Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Erinn Gilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Buchwalter

Third Advisor

Dr. Mitch Haney

Department Chair

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


In the western culture, historically speaking, there are different ideas of what gives an individual authority or power. There is also historical evidence of an unequal balance between men and women and throughout this thesis I will argue that this is still the case in contemporary society. This unbalance is evident in the ways in which women make use of their bodies in acts such as dieting and pregnancy, how women take on the role of caregivers, and the view of women in leadership positions. I maintain that one of the biggest concerns and contributors to this problem is the subject/object relationship in which women find themselves. In this dichotomy, women find themselves to be a subject and autonomous person while at the same time cognizant of the way they are viewed by others as objects. Within this subject/object dynamic, women become non-subjects and lose their autonomy. A large part of this ongoing relationship is due to the ways in which women use and are expected to use their bodies as well as minds due to social norms that have been passed down through the culture. This can stem from the way women physically maneuver their bodies as well as how others perceive their bodies typically in an inferior or sexualized way. The duality for women as objects is illustrated not only in the way men view women but in how women view other women as well. I will argue that many of the issues surrounding the subject/object dualism can be related back to the ways in which women, throughout their lives, use their bodies. I will illustrate how through the social education of women regarding how to utilize and experience their bodies, women often times lack both in physical ability as well as in leadership roles. I will illustrate how this takes place with young girls and how they maneuver their bodies in regards to physical capabilities. I will then examine the pregnancy process and the ways in which the subject/object relationship manifests due to the female body being seen as a human incubator and a thing that needs medical attention. Finally, I will look at the workplace and the different leadership styles that women are assumed to take as well as the potential resistance that accompanies the challenges to these norms. The types of barriers that are constructed for women to traverse and how those affect the abilities of women to function in a position of power within a university illustrate issues of gender equality for all women. Throughout the thesis, I will explore in detail some of the different barriers that have an impact on women. I argue that barriers have been constructed to hinder women and their perceived abilities within several contexts.