The Epistemic Harm of Normative Masculinity



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I identify a peculiar case of hermeneutical injustice thus far absent from the literature on epistemic injustice: when masculine norms prevent some men from understanding and talking about the finer minutia of their emotional experience. I argue that patriarchal norms which deem certain kinds of emotional expressions as deviant create a hermeneutical gap in our shared epistemic resources to the detriment of some men's emotional capabilities. In addition to this epistemic harm, I develop from the ethics of care further harms to these men's non-fungible relations of care. Analyzing these subsequent harms reveals a blind spot in Fricker's model of hermeneutical injustice. Often men whose emotional capacities are hermeneutically blocked trade in anger and misogyny, therefore Fricker's notion of the interpersonal virtuous hearer must be replaced in such cases. When a dominantly situated knower is hermeneutically impaired, the primary and secondary harms of epistemic injustice are pulled apart and the approach to ameliorating hermeneutical injustice must be revised to protect the livelihood of those situated marginally.