OT feminisms (was Meredith Ann Pierce)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Mar 4 11:33:08 EST 2004

On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 15:58:04 -0000 (GMT), Ika wrote:

>and Melissa responded:
>> I tend to swing back and forth on whether I actually refer to myself as a
>> feminist or not.  What you describe isn't "really" what feminism means,
>> deep
>> down,
>Depends on the feminism, doesn't it? I remember hearing that "the French
>feminists" (ie Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray and their
>associates/followers) described themselves as "anti-feminists" for some
>years after a group of feminists whose politics/theory were violently
>opposed to Cixous, Kristeva's and Irigaray's trademarked the word

French feminism has always been different from, um, American feminism (not
really American, but I think of it that way because of studying at an
American university) but then there's also the difference between what I'd
call academic feminism--feminist theory as it affects politics, literary
criticism, gender theory, etc--and practical feminism, which is feminism as
it expresses itself in the actions of individuals.  Though I can hardly
blame Kristeva and Co. for wanting to distinguish themselves from other
groups; it wasn't just a matter of discourse to them.  But see more below.

>and I've had Estonian and Czech friends whose sexual politics
>were similar to mine react very badly to being called "feminist". It's one
>of those words like "queer", that covers a range of extremely different
>and sometimes oppositional theoretical positions, political approaches and
>personal practices.

Which is why, I suppose, saying that a certain kind of feminism is the
"real" feminism is so problematic.  Even though I was talking about
practical feminism in my post, it's still, as you say, a word that covers a
wide range of positions--and you are always coming up against people whose
understanding of the word is different.  I prefer a definition of feminism
that is very basic and allows for individuals to make a wide range of
decisions that can all be called "feminist."  I do not understand French
feminism because the experiences of, say, Helene Cixous are so alien to me,
the dialogue that emerged from them makes no sense.  (This is ten years
after studying it, but I doubt it made much more sense at the time.)  She'd
probably think the same about me.  But there are a few things we have in
common.  (Not many.  I do not agree with her on the subject of women's ways
of expressing themselves.  But since that computer program thought I was a
man, Cixous would probably say my own expressiveness has been repressed by
long training in masculine forms of writing. :)  Like the word "queer," I
think at heart "feminist" has something in it that links all the different
ideas of what it means.  But it's those differences that make me sympathetic
to women who don't want any part of the debate.

I have no obDWJ to add.  Except that Polly is my feminist hero.

Melissa Proffitt
(we're at 9:32 and procrastinating is getting harder)

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