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the feminist critique of science

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Thu Sep 14 10:31:40 EST 1995

I find it very interesting (and just a bit disturbing) the wide variety of
views of the usage of the word "feminism," even on this group.  There are
some who seem to define it quite broadly, in terms of the struggle for
social and political equality, and others for whom it represents only a 
narrow academic movement.  Sometimes it seems to me that this debate of
what the word "feminist" means is a lot of divisive hair-splitting and
categorizing that doesn't do much good.  But diversity of opinion is what
makes a political movement vibrant and alive . . .

Still, a post that claimed that "post-feminist" was the appropriate categori-
zation for the idea that it's not so easy to divide the world into two sexes,
two genders, two anything, was really a new one on me.  I thought that what
feminism was all about was expanding (and dispensing with) rigid gender roles
where appropriate, and allowing more choices for both men and women--allowing
women to be scientists, and men to be child care workers, if they made that
choice.  This idea, that we don't want to categorize people by their gender,
seems squarely feminist to me, not "post" anything . . .

What are other people's thoughts on the current usage of the word "feminism?"
And if the consensus is emerging that it is a narrow academic, white,
upper-middle-class Western idea that is "anti-male," and has abandoned the
concerns of the "majority of women" (not my personal view at all, but one
that I see with increasing frequency), then what word are we to use for the
continuing struggle for equality and respect for women, both under the law,
and in the unwritten norms of society?

Karen Allendoerfer

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