Re: (PCT and Feminism)

Robert Parks (
Thu, 16 May 1996 14:39:10 -0400

Thanks Mike. I need this help... and am surprised and pleased people here
are willing to help me think this through. Not the place I thought I'd find
such ideologically sensitive colleagiality.

You say....
> Bob -- I think that feminism, as distinct from "masculinism" helps us
>to highlight the ways in which women and women's roles have been dominated in
>history. I agree that "humanism" would be an inclusive way of integrating
>all of disempowered groups under a single umbrella term. However, feminism
>(like African-American Studies, etc..) focuses our attention on the the
>specific ways power and domination have affected women. Such an issue
>would be less salient if studied under an umbrella concept like humanism.
>I say let's have humanism, but this should not make feminism go away.

I would be perfectly happy being a feminist if other feminists would be
willing to use the term this way. Your interpretation places "feminism" as
an orientation toward a particular TOPIC... the role of women in societies,
past and present, with respect to power and possibilities. (just a rough

But wouldn't you grant that if thats what we mean by "feminist", then we
must grant that there is a role for "masculinists" also... those who study
the topic of the role of men in societies (with respect to power, etc.)

In that case, "feminism/masculinism" become equivalent to
"african-American/Asican-America, etc." studies, and "Gender Studies" would
be the equivalent to "ethnic studies".

But does this adequately reflect the aspirations of "feminism"? It appears
to me that feminism aspires to be a theory of the importance of gender in
the creation of societies and in the creation of knowledge (e.g.,
Gilligan's critique of Kohlberg on moral development). (The parallel would
be a theory of race which said "skin privilege" of whites has corrupted the
knowledge claims of all whites... they are all racists. In fact such claims
are made by some feminists.)

For me, the question is: do we promote the interests of women to the
exclusion of those of men? or do we promote the interests of women and men
as the constituents of our human species, looking for a species existence.
If its the latter that "feminists" aspire to, then I am still left with the
question, why should we NAME the theory/aspiration "feminist"?

I think I'll be quiet for a while now... sorry to have ridden my hobby
horse for so long...

Thanks for the thoughtful help in thinking these matters through...

Bob Parks