Re: PCT and Feminisms: asking again...

Robert Parks (
Wed, 22 May 1996 15:45:07 -0400

Dear Alessandra and Lois,

Re Allesandra's recent comment:
>I hope you do not take offence if I defend my ground quite

I would never be offended by your defense of your beliefs. But it appears
to me that the most interesting discussions are a discovery of what we
believe, rather than a defense. I wasn't intending to attack, but to
discover, so I"m sorry I forced you to go into a "defense" mode.

What I have discovered is quite gratifying. It appears that we aren't far
off on any substantive point. I still would like to ask your assistance in
thinking through with me a couple of additional points. I ask for your
assistance because I trust you have thought about these or similar
questions before. I find it far too risky to discuss these matters with the
intelligent women I know who consider themselves feminists. Men who are
sympathetic to feminism but want to participate in a constructive/critical
dialoge seem to me to have been effectively silenced in academic circles.
Any sign of disagreement is taken to be allegiance to an
anti-feminist/anti-woman position of the right wing. The "politically
correct" slogan wouldn't be so efective for the right wing in the U.S. if
it didn't in fact tap a strain of intolerance on the left.

Alessandra states:

>We seem to come to similar conclusions... HOWEVER, I think we still need
>a feminist movement, IMHO, to bring together women who struggle in
>various groups to share their experiences. I really believe (and my
>personal experience validate my constructs about this), that as women we
>do have something to share BEYOND our posible belonging to other
>oppressed groups. We also share the fact that we are NOT a minority: we
>are a good half of the world population, and as such we have an enourmous


> why can't we accept feminism? Or, may I ask, why do you have
>a problem with this word? (don't take offence please, many men seem to
>have the same difficulty... Maybe there is a negative shared construct
>there, that most men, and some women have in common?) Feminism is not a
>dirty word (or does not need to be).

well said! No disagreement. Still, it appears to me that you have come to
the conclusion that "feminism" is a theory developed in support of the
womens movement, just as "black power" or "Multiculturalism" might be said
to be theories developed in support of the interests of racial or cultural
groups. In this case, since I am neither a woman, nor black, I probably
don't have much to contribute to those theories (at least to the extent
that theorizing a condition is intimately connected with experience). But I
could then join a "white power" or "masculinism" group, and try to reform
those groups so that their values better reflected the needs for equality.
The "mens movement" seems to be based on such a premise.

But is that all you want to mean by feminism? I have this gut feeling (and
can't find a reference at the moment) that the aspirations of feminism as a
theory are universalistic - claimina a unique, distinctive, and more
valuable perspective on the HUMAN condition (not just the condition of
women) than ANY previous theory (not just "masculinist" theories based on
inequality of the sexes).

Perhaps - to use Lois's terminology - I am worried that the contrast to
"marginalization" is not "acknowledgement" or "recognition", but
domination. Without a unifying theory of equality, there is no way to bring
women's experience out of the margins without making it central and
dominant - as for example Gilligan appears to do in her "In A Different
Voice". She says women's moral thinking focuses on "care", and implies that
this perspective is not only different, but superior.

If I"m wrong, then I am grateful that you have helped to bring me to this
point - to bring my thoughts to this understanding.