14SUSAN STANFORD FRIEDMAN
acquired its own local coloration, much influenced by the way inwhich the civil rights movement of the 1950s to 1970s along withthe general social/political ferment of the 1960s had contributed tothe reawakening of feminism and the formation of the gay and les-bian rights movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. Within this con-text, the
added to feminism developed a geographically specificmeaning, far more in tune with American political conditions thanwith French or European intellectual traditions. As Audre Lorde putit, "By and large within the women's movement today, white womenfocus upon their oppression as women and ignore differences of race,sexual preference, class, and age. There is a pretense to a homogene-ity of experience covered by the word
that does not in factexist."
The predominant focus of feminists on the differencesbetween women and men had worked to obscure the difficult andpotentially creative differences among women based on other oppres-sions, Lorde argued. "It is not our differences which separate women,"Lorde insisted, "but our reluctance to recognize those differences andto deal effectively with the distortions which have resulted from theignoring and misnaming of those differences" (122). Lorde's call fordirect acknowledgment of differences among women based on mul-tiple oppressions highlighted a process of pluralization into
that had already begun in theory and practice with the formation ofsuch organizations as Black Feminism, the caucus structure of theNational Women's Studies Association, and anthologies such as
Writings by Radical Women of
edited byCherrie Moraga and Gloria
In this context, abandonmentof the singular term
and the adoption of the plural
signified a theoretical and coalitional praxis that refused anyaffirmations of a universal sisterhood of women joined togetheragainst worldwide patriarchy in the name of
My intention in this chapter is to
a reinstitution of
feminism in the singular
and then to ex-amine the spatial/temporal literacy such feminism requires. I do notmean by this
of feminism a return to a notion of auniversal feminist subjectivity or a movement based on an assump-tion of female homogeneity. Nor do I mean to suggest that the foun-dational recognition of differences among women based on othersystems of stratification such as race, class, or sexuality is no longer
15necessary (been there, done that). Indeed, I believe that we must re-main continuously vigilant to the conditions and effects of such dif-ferences. And I accept as a profoundly important advance in feministtheory and praxis that gender can never be fully understood in iso-lation from other constitutive elements of human identity and thesocial order. No one register of social organization and no one com-munal identity sufficiently defines power relations or individual lifeas negotiated within
gender or race or class or na-tional origin. Moreover, the interactive dynamic among these distinc-tive systems of stratification requires more than an additive approachto differences. The processes by which race or class or sexuality (andso forth) mediate
themselves key spacesfor theoretical reflection and coalitional activism.What I do mean by feminism in the singular is a locational femi-nism that is simultaneously situated in a specific locale, global inscope, and constantly in motion through space and time.
locationalfeminism is one that acknowledges the historically and geographi-cally specific forms in which feminism emerges, takes root, changes,travels, translates, and transplants in different
con-texts. The feminism that mandates a quota of representation by lowercaste women in village councils of rural India (reported in the
May 3, 1999) is not the same feminism as that whichmotivates those who demonstrate for reproductive choice outside abeleaguered abortion clinic in the United States. But both feminismsare still political practices informed by theories of gender and socialjustice that are recognizably a part of a singular entity we can callfeminism. Both participate in the notion that the given social orderprivileges the masculine and distributes power inequitably accordingto gender (in whatever ways, for whatever reasons, and however dif-ferently interactive with other issues of power). Both advocate for aform of gender equity (however equity is conceived or to be achieved).Putting these two locationally different political practices under thesame categorical umbrella named
requires what GayatriChakravorty Spivak calls
Reflecting the wayin which specific languages are tied to particular places, she uses alinguistic metaphor to insist on feminism's locational particularity.Any given embodiment of feminism is inflected with the over-determined conditions of its history and geography.