Dear Carrol,

I find your comments on this a great relief because you so clearly have
read feminist theory and history and know what the words mean.  But as
long as people comment on what they seem to identify with parodies from
the media and general misunderstandings, it seems useless to pursue the
discussion.  It is two monologues on parallel tracks.

It is an ironic fact, however, that although many--maybe a majority--of
women deny being feminists, they then say "I'm not a feminist but. . .but I
believe women are equal to men and deserve equal pay and are as
intelligent as men and have equal rights and can paint and write and be
scientists and philosophers, and they should be senators and
representatives and judges and professors, and they can play sports and
make policy and write books and be in the army and and and . . . ."  In
other words, "I'm not a feminist but I'm a feminist; I just have no idea what
the word actually means."  Probably if most women knew what Aristotle
and Aquinas, for example, said about them, they would be appalled.  My
students always are anyway.


Date sent:              Sun, 1 Dec 2002 19:07:48 -0600
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: Thatcher, feminism, etc.
To:                     [log in to unmask]

[Due to a couple errors this got sent to Peter rather than the list, but
it was intended as a reply to his post to the list.]

Feminism (in any of its many forms) probably does not enjoy support from
a majority of women, though it has affected public consciousness (and a
good deal of public law & practice) considerably. It's a movement with ups
& downs, and with many inner conflicts. The word can't be defined
precisely, but it can I think be confined to women who do see it as a
movement in some form, and who more or less adhere (passively or
actively) to it as a movement.

For example, most feminists in fact reject aggressively that wing of
feminism which organizes around opposition to pornography, but
"feminist" still applies to both of these currents in a way it would not
apply to Thatcher or the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

(All movements, including those with long-range staying power, wax and
wane. It is _probably_ best to "define" them as they appear in their
waxing stages.)