To (Witch? Fairy Godmother?)
Offering the Temptation and Threat of the Apple of Knowledge
The first feminist moment of my childhood:
"Girls, don't look!"
...Said by my strong-willed (and certain) father
Wearing dresses when going to town (where they could look up our dresses) and working as a telephone operator (where no one could see us @ all)
Noticing the limits of my mother's life, wanting something bigger:
As per Ann Dixon: I'm wondering whether a lot of the guilt is passed along mother to daughter?
So that all of grandma's choices, or lack thereof, in the past are passed down in a legacy to daughter/new mom?
Too abtract, too removed from anything I was curious about
Consciousness Raising in Rural Maine:
realizing that I was complicit in shaping my own life....
Graduate School in English @ Penn
"The work you are doing is women's studies" (who knew?!)
Co-ordinating Feminist and Gender Studies @ BMC (1995-present):
I have had MANY feminist guides and foremothers in this process.
Three of the most important ones are
Susan Bordo. (Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of Kentucky) "Feminism, Postmodernism, and Gender Scepticism" (1990): "It is impossible to be 'politically correct' . . . all ideas . . . are condemned to be haunted by a voice from the margins . . . awakening us to what has been excluded, effaced, damaged."
Iris Marion Young (Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago)
"The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference" (1990):
"The ideal of community...privileges unity over difference, immediacy over mediation, sympathy over recognition of the limits of one's understanding of others from their point of view. Community is an understandable dream, expressing a desire for selves that are transparent to one another, relationships of mutual identification, social closeness and comfort. The dream is understandable, but politically problematic...because those motivated by it will tend to suppress differences among themselves or implicitly to exclude from their political groups persons with whom they do not identify....The desire for unity...generates borders, dicotomies, and exclusions....difference means the irreducible particularity of entities, which makes it impossible to reduce them to commonness or bring them into unity without a remainder....the ideal of community...has undesirable political implications....desire for reciprocal recognition and identification...denies difference....in making it difficult for people to respect those with whom they do not identify...the desire for mutual understanding and reciprocity underlying the ideal of community is similar to the desire for identification that underlies racial and ethnic chauvinism...Our political ideal is the unoppressive city....defined as openness to unassimilatable otherness...Radical politics must develop discourse and institutions for bringing differently identified groups together without suppressing or subsuming the differences."
"Impartiality and the Civic Public"(1987):
"The bourgeois world instituted a moral division of labor between reason and sentiment....sentiment has been thoroughly devalued because it has been excluded from rationality....I am suggesting that only a conception of normative reason that includes the affective and bodily dimensions of meaning can be adequate ....contemporary politics grants to all persons entrance into the public on condition that they...keep their passions private....Liberating public expression means not only lifting formerly privatized issues into the open of public and rational discussions...but also affirming in the practice of such discussion the proper place of passion and play in public."
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (1938)
demonstrates that three requests for contributions--
to support women's education, a professional women's organization,
and the peace effort--
are inherently linked:
"to emphasize superiority...rouses competition and jealousy...which encourage a dispostion towards war. We can refuse all such distinctions ourselves. (21)
Do we wish to join that procession, or don't we? On what terms shall we join that procession? Above all, where is it leading us, the procession of educated men? (62)
The professions have a certain undeniable effect upon the professors. They make the people who practise them possessive, jealous of any infringement of their rights, and highly combative. (66)
This is an awful mind- and soul-destroying life....Sight goes....sound goes...Speech goes...Humanity goes...Health goes...What then remains of a human being who has lost sight, sound, and sense of proportion? Only a cripple in a cave. (70-2)
How can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings...who wish to prevent war? (75)
[She ends w/ a refusal] to be separated from the four great teachers of the daughters of educated men--poverty, chastity, derision and freedom from unreal loyalties." (79)
the inherent and insistent social nature of thinking
the interaction of mind and body, how each affects the other in what Descartes poetically called "interfibrillar spaces"
the provisionality of all knowledge: there is no ultimate criteria for truth, only arbitrarily and temporarily useful constructions which we rely on for decision-making and action
the freedom to make something new: how large is that space?
And wherefrom does the newness (and/or the space/interplay that generates newness) come?
Turning it over to the next generation-- what have you been "generating," as we have been talking?
Which "feminist foremother" is going to be the most help to you,
@ this juncture of your own thinking-and-writing?
If you are as yet motherless,
what kind of mother are you looking for?
That is, what do you need someone to help you think about?