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Paper presentation at the International Steiner Symposium 2021. The Actuality of Rudolf Steiner: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Steiner in the 21st Century.

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?

This tweet, written and posted by Joanne K. Rowling in June 2020, triggered a worldwide debate about women’s health and safety issues, transphobia, gender identity, sexuality, and corporeality. Petitions supporting and opposing Rowling’s position were signed and published, YouTube videos were filmed, articles were written, and a myriad of tweets – in varying degrees of anger – were composed. The wildfire-like response shows that the tension between people who were discussing questions of gender identity and those who deal with issues that are specific to the experience of cis-women was already high. It seems to become increasingly difficult to find common ground in the trenches between feminist criticism and gender and queer studies – even though these academic fields are close cousins, if not sisters.

In this paper, I suggest that we can build a bridge over this trench by taking a closer look at Rudolf Steiner’s chapter 14, “Individuality and Genus,” in the Philosophy of Freedom and Rosa Mayreder’s essay Perspectives of Individuality. I will use Steiner as an introduction into the idea of an individuality that is not independent of but related to the context that it emerged from. I will then incorporate Mayreder’s more gender- and sexuality-specific text, which suggests a reconciliation between corporeality and fluid, and even spiritual, gender identity.

Eva Fürst: Institute for Education and Social Innovation, Germany

Eva holds a Master in English Literatures and Cultures with a thesis on the structural erasure of the female doppelgänger in the majority of anglophone research literature. She is currently interested in Rosa Mayreder. Mayreder’s synthetic human can, in Eva’s opinion, provide a feminist approach that connects seamlessly with gender and queer studies. Furthermore, Eva is working on a critical edition of Mayreder’s only play Anda Renata, a female Faust tale.