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Teaching 70s Feminisms

in response to Pauline Bart

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 07/06/2001

I am assuming that Dr. Bart is referring to a particular brand of feminism for which _Sisterhood is Powerful_ was paradigmatic, as she said in an earlier post as the "70s feminism" - I find such labeling misleading and troubling, but for the sake of discussion I use the term under that definition in this post.

On 01.7.5 8:18 PM, "pauline b. bart" wrote:

I was told that because students now in women's studies courses believe all the myths about 70's feminism, it is better to skip from the suffragists to the nineties, and to go back only when the students trust the faculty person.

Interesting. If the problem was indeed myths spread by the backlash, I would imagine that introducing students to raw materials from the "70's feminism" should dispel them. What are you afraid of? If students can understand and historicize the suffrage movement, surely they are capable of understanding and historicizing the second wave. Or, is that the problem? That you expect students to accept the "70s feminism" as the timeless Truth rather than a part of the history (or herstory, or however you spell it)?

Thankfully, my feminist theory teacher did introduce to me plenty of materials from the 70s including the likes of _Sisterhood is Powerful_ and critiques made by other feminists from the same era. I find it insulting that you continue to insist that any critiques or resistence by young women are invalid or that they arose from our ignorance, or that they reflect mother-daughter conflict and therefore have nothing to do with the criticized text. It is also disingenuous and anti-intellectual position to take, as it makes constructive and respectful dialog impossible.

While intelellectually I dislike this position, it makes sense to me, because that would account for, among other factors, a number of students dropping out after that lecture. I had considred demystifying the seventies and analyzing possible reasons for the continuation of the lies was a useful excercize, but apparantly it has to approached very carefully.

So you are blaming students for being too intellectually vigorous to accept an unquestionable authority, too self-respecting to tolerate ageist dismissal of their views, and concluding overall that their time is worth too much to waste listening to the 70s radio. And now you are asking other scholars about manipulating students into extending their trust by hiding your true agenda, while depriving students of the consistent historical overview of the feminist thought. I, too, would have dropped out if my teachers treated me that way.

I think that one, and only one reason for the rejection of seventies feminism is a daughter mother conflict (symbolic) which would account for the intensity of resistance to it.

How is that different from explaining that women's resistence against sexism is a manifestation of the penis envy? And what (and whose) purpose does it serve to explain away a conflict that is costing many young students opportunities to pursue Women's Studies?

Emi K. <>

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.