If that is your point about Thatcher, I never denied it. I only denied that it
made her a feminist. I also think that feminism has too long a history to
be a term you can use for whatever idiosyncratic meaning you like. It is
like the character in "Alice in Wonderland" who announces that when he
uses a word it means just what he wants it to. Unfortunately, the meaning
of words is a matter of definition and history and is not simply individual.
So by all means call anything you like "feminism" but that does mean it
is, any more that announcing that by "conservatism" you mean the ability
to make conserves and jams because it is an ancient skill that is being
retained. Or saying that by patriarchy you mean the government of Israel
because the patriarchs were the Old Testiment fathers and they were all
Jews. I mean, you can SAY whatever you like, but it is the women who
have written feminist theory and philosophy who have defined it, and your
use does not change the work of those women or the ones who are now
engaged in developing and extending that work.
And as I said before, the notion that an essentialist definition of women as
naturally nurturing is or was a necessary position in feminism--at any point
--is untrue even though some women did argue it. So the fact that it did
not turn out to be the case is not in any way a critique of feminism. That
is like saying that since Enron happened, all of Jefferson is subverted
because we did not turn out to be a country of small farming communities.
That actually does not obviate the claims about equality and rights to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Neither does the fact that women
are not essentially nurturing and pacifist obviate all of Wollstonecraft, who
never said they were as I recall. It only means that a certain form of
essentialist feminist argument was not accurate.
So by all means use words any way you like as you have the right to say
what you like even if it is not feminism.
Date sent: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 17:07:26 -0800
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: What the word feminism means
To: [log in to unmask]
From: Nancy Gish [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
the fact that Thatcher is an assertive woman who had a great deal of power
and no doubt benefited an a broadly general way from the developing idea
that women could be in politics
me, the above, as
you have clearly stated it, was most of the issue, and you seemed very
reluctant to admit it.
The other part of my point was that the injection of the anima
factor into politics has not brought about the much vaunted
changes in less hostility and more compassion that were promoted.
I'm quite sure that Auntie Maggie would not want to be
called a feminist, but it is impossible to deny that both
by fact and style she promoted the cause of women in politics
and therefore in almost every other way in Britain. To me that
makes her a feminist, even if a downright brutal one, and I've
met my fair share of such in my time.
In any event, like it or not, I will continue to use feminism
as a convenient cover-all, as seems more and more to be the
option, these days. I respect the fact that you disagree with