Campaign Against Pornography Barbara Norden The Mothers’ Manifesto and Disputes Over ‘Mütterlichkeit’ Prue Chamberlayne Multiple Mediations: Feminist Scholarship in the Age of Multinational Reception Lata Mani Cagney and Lacey Revisited Beverley Alcock and Jocelyn Robson Cutting a Dash: The Dress of Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge Katrina Rolley Deviant Dress Elizabeth Wilson The House that Jill Built: Lesbian Feminist Organizing in Toronto, 1976–1980 Becki Ross Women in Professional Engineering: The Interaction of Gendered Structures and Values Ruth Carter and Gill Kirkup Comment: Identity Politics and the Hierarchy of Oppression Linda Briskin Poetry: Regina Bufkin Nancy Zumwalt Review Essay: Clara Connolly on Sacred Cows Reviews Linda Semple on The Dog Collar Murders and After Delores Alison Oram on Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality?: Essays from the International Scientific Conference on Lesbian and Gay Studies Robyn Archer on Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This—My Life in the Jazz World Noticeboard

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read out in her absence. our deep and personal knowledge of it’ summed up a recurring theme. The leaflet contained a feminist argument against the dangers of censorship. Clare Short. the registration form stated that women attending should be opposed to pornography and want to organise against it. is a rarity in itself. the six papers which made up the first half of the conference were not about ways to combat pornography but a rehearsal of arguments and feelings against it. but CAP’s conference was also unusual in that it did not invite debate about the issue. which described the closeness between women in the sex industry and the stigma and harassment they experience.CAMPAIGN AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY Barbara Norden The first Campaign Against Pornography (CAP) eonference took place in November 1989. Despite the fact that participants were presumed to agree already. which took part in the London press launch of Off the Shelf. former stripper and author of The Front Line: Women in the Sex Industry Speak. as the event was subtitled. entitled ‘Pornography and Sexual Violence’ had been planned for over a year. The speaker who said ‘We shouldn’t fall into the trap of rationalizing a collective experience. shortly after the launch of Off the Shelf.H. At no time did her statement advocate or even logically lead to a campaign against pornography. Page 3 and Off the Shelf CAP was started by Labour MP Clare Short who in 1986 attempted to wrest the antipornography argument away from Mary Whitehouse and Conservative MP Winston Churchill and on to a feminist footing. The only exception was a paper by Nickie Roberts. Summer 1990 . A national women’s conference. The conference. CAP’s campaign to get W. Though not confined to CAP’s 700 members. was nowhere to be seen. A cheer went up when it was announced over the loudspeaker that a group of women who had distributed a leaflet ‘against the aims of this eonference’ during the lunchbreak were ‘no longer with us’. was massively oversubscribed and a 1990 repeat was planned.Smith to stop stocking soft-porn magazines on its top shelf. Feminist Review No 35. The November conference took place at Nottingham Polytechnic Students Union. It was part of a programme of action between November 1989 and April 1990 which included a speaking tour and regional training events in February— sessions for activists on winning the arguments against pornography—and a national day of action on International Women’s Day. students were much in evidence though the Townswomen’s Guild. Women with press tickets were allowed to listen to the series of papers which formed the first half of the conference. Potential dissenters were excluded from the afternoon workshops. before they had heard the arguments.

At the time of the Bill. Penthouse. passion and power of women to challenge the distribution of pornography in the mainstream of our society…It isn’t just funny. where anyone who dares produce it or look at it has to huddle and hide because everyone knows how disgusting and unacceptable it is… Feminist critics of antiporn feminism have repeatedly pointed to the dangers of making alliances with the antifeminist right.’ (Quoted in Chester and Dickey. Smiths would not sell them to children. she asserts: To a woman the libertarians describe the anti-pornography feminists as being conservative. 1990:269) Several speakers at the conference were anxious to pre-empt any suggestion that they would ally with the right and. allied to the moral majority. I thought you can’t do it all at once. it’s mainstream.H. Playboy. And our aim of course is to have a society where porn is not acceptable in the mainstream. rightwing. formed the opening speech of the CAP conference. and their position on the top shelf implies restricted availability. Antiporn feminists insist that their analysis and tactics are distinct from those of the right. Describing feminist critics of the antiporn movement as libertarian. they are actually in a position which is reactionary . Anticlimax. screwed-up men who use it. Off the Shelf. most men must use it and consume it…Our campaign is going to ripple and grow in groups throughout the country. It is not easy to find evidence of present-day feminists being allied with moralistic right-wing movements…(Jeffreys. in a brief Guardian interview. bases much of its argument—that the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was directly opposed to women’s freedom—on the growth of the porn industry. It would go underground anyway. and the childish and prurient behaviour of male Tory MPs. Playmates in the Spotlight and Sunday Sport Magazine in its petition to W. CAP’s director Sam Chugg dissociated herself from the moral majority: I think Mrs Whitehouse is a straw opposition to pornography. for instance. 1988:29) At the conference she described her anti-Page-3 Bill and the Off the Shelf campaign as if they were equally mainstream. Clare Short’s speech proposed not a legal ban but a campaign to drive porn from the mainstream by creating a climate of shame: I moved on to this campaign. ‘men’s interest’ magazines as opposed to ‘mainstream’ tabloid newspapers. Mayfair. Clare Short was not in favour of banning all pornography as she told Melissa Benn in early 1987: I was quite careful about the phrasing of [the Bill] so it would cover Page 3 only.Smith—are regarded by the news trade as specialist. Although she and the people behind her are full of fire about how awful pornography is.000 letters of support from women. the tide is turning. I feel very optimistic. which is a wonderful campaign because it’s about using all that anger. Sheila Jeffreys’ most recent book. So instead of hunting out the most vile porn. Clare Short’s by now well-known account of the impulsive decision to introduce her Indecent Displays Bill banning Page 3. which elicited 5. can’t get rid of porn. I thought: start in the middle and go for the thing that everyone’s exposed to all the time. though magazines displayed on the top shelves of newsagents—CAP specified Health & Efficiency.2 FEMINIST REVIEW Churchill was trying to pass a bill banning violence on TV which could have affected war reporting and medical textbooks.

(Guardian. that women had the right to have multiple partners. declaring her support for Off the Shelf. Lynda Lee-Potter of the Daily Mail did a ‘Femail’ special report on the launch of Off the Shelf. She advocates a return to the level of film censorship prevalent in the 1950s and early 1960s: We need to go back 20 years in our history to see why and when the decline began. They do not inevitably go together. lays the blame at the door of the sexual revolution. like Sheila Jeffreys’ book. the Conservative MP responsible for Section 28. It was a double-edged speech. 17 November 1989) The language of antiporn feminists is not far removed from this. A letter to all women MPs resulted in Jill Knight. ‘The point is not whether there is a sex worker who enjoys her work but the majority the world over who did not choose it or for whom sex work is still the best option’. however obscene it might be. Of course. debase and ultimately lead to a savage increase in rape on our streets… This is why I believe we need censorship. class and wealth she made no reference to the women who do make money out of the industry not only as sex . the second speaker at the CAP conference talked of women allying against pornography regardless of party politics and gave an analysis of the ‘libertarian backlash’ closely allied to Sheila Jeffreys’. But this is a hegemonic project and it means we will make alliances with people that we don’t always agree with because we want everybody and we want to win. They believe the reintroduction of censorship would be wrong because where would it stop? I think it’s a risk we must take. It is not because selling pornography is to do with women’s rights or sexual violence—it is to do with imposing their morality on others. concentrating on prostitution and sex tourism as if these were the same as the production of pornographic magazines and videos. The ‘libertarian backlash’ Susanne Kappeler.AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY 3 and to do with sexism. Only in Anticlimax it is not ‘all of us’ who are to blame for a decline in standards but a few feminist collaborators trapped in a gay male socialist conspiracy—the libertarians. in Thailand the government has encouraged sex tourism for economic reasons but poraography is officially banned. In the Sixties there was a belief that sexual abandon was the way to Utopia. Sheila Jeffreys portrays two decades in which pornography has unleashed woman-hating violence on the world. Well even take Jill Knight. and in very similar language. there are still people who defend the right to publish anything. (Daily Mail. 15 November 1989) Yet CAP clearly is prepared to make pragmatic alliances with the right. Though she stressed that pornography affects women ‘differentially’ by race. which. Kappeler also claimed to side with workers in the sex industry while attacking those ‘privileged few’ women who say they enjoy their work. Clare Short’s response to challenges from the audience on this issue was unambiguous: Jill Knight is a neighbour of mine in Birmingham and I know all about her terrible attitudes on everything. for instance. not only in our morality but in our common sense. They manipulate women’s anger at pornography to get support for an actually reactionary project. Like Lynda Lee-Potter. that all restraints should be torn aside… We didn’t face the possibility that lack of censorship would produce scenes of sadism and horror that would corrupt. She stressed the economic exploitation of women ‘who earn a survival wage in an industry which makes giant profits for white male Western capitalists’—a description which would equally apply to the electronics industry. CAP could have taken a decision to declare its distance from her as well.

lesbian or heterosexual sadomasochism and all pornography are inextricably linked. also. the notorious 1970s revolutionary feminist paper accusing women who had sex with men of betraying women as a whole with their weakness. oppressive expressions of lesbian sexuality were a result of the domination of debates about representation by heterosexual feminists in the early 1970s. It is not a distinction that all antiporn feminists would make. These women may be the exceptions that prove the rule.Smith stopped stocking soft porn as a result of Off the Shelf it is unlikely that Gay Times which is not pornography but which the chain previously refused to stock. However.H. They have gained some credibility in British institutions from trade unions and the National Council of Civil Liberties to support from MPs and the press. The danger of censorship Lesbianism poses a practical problem to advocates of antiporn legislation. 1990:3). or the West German porn baron Beate Uhse who started out in the 1940s by running a contraceptive advisory service and whose company with its £30 million-a-year turnover sponsors a women’s handball team. for instance the ex-model and nominal editor of Penthouse Linzi Drew. that lesbians. For Sheila Jeffireys. The involvement of the NUS in CAP is an indication of the campaign’s influence in colleges. when advocating a legal ban in an interview said she hadn’t seen any lesbian or gay pornography but supposed that would have to be banned too. at . Catherine Itzin of the Campaign Against Pornography and Censorship. 1990:262). The launch of new antipornography campaigns have been the first sign of highly visible feminist activity in Britain since the mid 1980s. especially young lesbians. similarly drew a connexion between the feminist pornography debate and the lesbian sado-masochism debate.4 FEMINIST REVIEW workers but as producers. would survive on its shelves. in her view. in a speech about representation and power and the cultural sanction of rape in which she argued that pornography is ‘the glove that softens the blow’ of sexual violence. as a bunch of lawyers. implicitly likening heterosexual pornography to the US lesbian sex magazine On Our Backs and the British one-off equivalent Quim. middle-class. expressions of the eroticized power differences which oppress women and which libertarians defend (Jeffreys. It is possible. but can feminists ignore the fact that the fastest growing market for pornography is said to be women and heterosexual couples? Feminist critics of antipornography feminism were portrayed as exclusively white. and accusations of collaboration were strongly reminiscent of Love Your Enemy. the feminist group which took an anticensorship stand against Dworkin and McKinnon’s Minneapolis ordinance. cynical consumers of pornography who enjoyed their porn so much that they couldn’t bear to give it up like not fighting on Third World issues because you like jeans made in Taiwan’: ‘Let’s be clear about the cynicism and implicit imperialism of these privileged women in exploiting the struggles of sex workers’. if W. The connexion with Jill Knight and the likelihood that any measures of censorship of sexual representation would be applied first and most strongly against lesbian or gay material have made lesbians wary of an antipornography campaign. Susanne Kappeler dismissed members of FACT. a ‘pro-porn white middle-class élite’. the introduction into parliament of Clause 28 in 1987 led to a resurgence of lesbian and gay cultural and political activity also with a very high profile among students. Maud Sulter. The sado-masochism debate. She argued that these extreme and. Because the CAP conference was not advocating legislation this contradiction was avoided but. have had more exposure in the last few years to alternatives to antiporn radical feminism than young heterosexual feminists. which may also have something to do with the involvement of feminist teaching academics in the campaign. Susanne Kappeler clearly limited her definition of porn to that made for heterosexual men. In an almost direct quote from Andrea Dworkin (quoted in Jeffreys. writers and publishers. The language of guilt rather than responsibility.

1988:336–9) The argument that pornography should be the primary target of feminists because convicted rapists are often reported to use pornography and sex murderers have even blamed pornography for their behaviour is impossibly open ended. It is not surprising that men for whom violence is sexual should seek out violent porn. Porn Gold gives a convincing account of the source of this item of antipornography faith and reports that the Adult Film Association of America offered $25. West Germany and Holland has not increased the sexual crime figures. but fail to mention Linda Marciano’s disclosures that she was kept as a slave and forced to perform in it at gunpoint. films and plays addressing sexuality have been charted in Feminist Review (Ardill and O’Sullivan. Denmark.AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY 5 its height in London in 1986. She repeated the well-known argument that ‘snuff movies’ have been made in which people were actually killed. Links with sexual violence The links between pornography and sexual violence are usually cited as the reason for extending censorship. Even in more liberal circles mainstream discussions of pornography tend to ignore or underrate misogyny and cases of abuse — for instance. Let’s Take Leave of Our Censors (Evening Standard. where appropriate. or the New York lesbian theatre company Split Britches whose Little Women: The Tragedy brilliantly explored sex and censorship when it came to London in September 1989 all offered lesbians feminist alternatives to radical feminist orthodoxies on sexuality. David Hebditch and Nick Anning in the generally wellresearched and informative Porn Gold mention that the film Deep Throat packed out US cinemas. the author of A Restricted Country brought over to Britain by Sheba Feminist Publishers in 1988. who see a blanket crusade against pornography in Britain today as potentially more harmful than helpful. The fourth speaker. It does not follow that women covering themselves up eliminates rape. homophobic reactionariness are suitable targets for carefully .000. should these too be singled out as responsible for sexual violence? The feminist antipornography campaign polarizes feminists into ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ positions. Liz Kelly. Joan Nestle. as in Alexander Walker’s piece about Off the Shelf. should be subject to feminist analysis and. the wave of tolerance which accompanied the visits to London of a variety of American lesbian writers. which has never been claimed. admitted that American studies had not suggested a causal link between sexual violence and pornography. which talked of raucous women who should stay at home looking after their children. (Hebditch and Anning. However these cultural products had extremely limited circulation and arguably little immediate relevance to the lives of most women. Many men (including judges) have blamed crimes of sexual violence on women’s ‘provocative’ dress. condemnation. to anyone who could produce evidence that this had taken place. or that newspapers like The Sun in all its sexist. CAP does feminist thought a disservice. shown in London at the 1989 lesbian and gay film festival. is still echoing in lesbian circles in other cities in Britain. like all images. as being uncritically pro-porn and only interested in defending male capitalist interests. By caricaturing dissenting feminists. Few feminists would disagree that pornographic images. Mainstream opposition to censorship or pornography is hardly profeminist. Many rapists consume alcohol or drugs. not surprisingly. The gunning down of fourteen female students in Canada by a man who said he hated feminists and watched a lot of war films (Evening Standard. racist. though it has been shown that representations of women enjoying rape. 8 December 1989) does not mean feminism or war films should be singled out as uniquely likely to lead to the murder of women. 21 November 1989). Its effect on lesbian sexual politics and. 1988). Juliet Bashore’s film about the lesbian relationship between two porn actresses (incidentally Bashore is not pro-pornography). She could have added that the legalization of pornography in Sweden. later. Kamikaze Hearts. aid the acceptance of myths about rape.

yet all hard-core porn is illegal under the Obscene Publications Act. LEE-POTTER. The Single European Market in 1992 will make it even more difficult to keep material that is legal in one Western European country out of Britain. BENN. But in brooking no debate and in not putting readily available facts before its audience the CAP conference showed a lack of confidence in its own position and in the ability of potential supporters to think for themselves. Not that national laws will make much difference in the future.6 FEMINIST REVIEW thought-out campaigns. 6. . Dorset: Prism Press. Daily Mail. JEFFREYS. London: Women’s Press. Feminist Review. no. Nick (1988) Porn Gold: Inside the Pornography Business.31. surely a relevant consideration in a campaign led by an MP. p. Guardian. pp. 26–35. Tuesday 21 November 1989. dissenting publications. WALKER. Susan and O’SULLIVAN. David and ANNING. that Britain has the toughest antiporn laws in Western Europe apart from Ireland. References ARDILL. Dennis (1989) ‘Taking issue with Mrs Whitehouse’. Far from having to ‘huddle and hide’. She worked for Spare Rib between 1984 and 1987. It was not even mentioned. the news trade in Britain already favours the distribution of large-circulation commercial magazines over independent. Attempts at censorship are far more likely to backfire on cultural products that threaten the status quo. Lynda (1989) ‘High street shame: why Clare Short is so right’. Evening Standard. Melissa (1988) ‘Page 3 and the campaign against it’ in CHESTER and DICKEY(1988). Julienne editors (1988) Feminism and Censorship: The Current Debate. Friday 17 November 1989. BARKER. HEBDITCH. those who want to get hold of porn will find it easier. An observer from another planet would have imagined that Britain was awash with child pornography and ‘snuff movies. CHESTER. Alexander (1989) ‘Let’s take leave of our censors’. Meanwhile. Sue (1988) ‘Sex in the Summer of ‘88’. Gail and DICKEY. Wednesday 15 November 1989. pp. for instance. 28–9. Note Barbara Norden works part time as a reporter for a council newspaper and as a freelance journalist. Sheila (1990) Anticlimax: A Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Revolution. new technology will make higher quality pirating and international transmission of images impossible to resist. London: Faber & Faber.

Weimar and Nazi Germany. often on such basic equal rights issues as equal pay. pay and pensions for home carers. I consider the context of family policy in the ruling conservative party. Second. the Mother’s Manifesto. etc. in spite of bitter divisions between liberal.2 Understanding this rift requires an exploration of the resonance of ‘neue Mütterlichkeit’ in the German context. industrialized society has thrown doubt on the socialist project of emancipation for women through participation in the public domain on equal terms with men. and the facilitation of political activity for mothers (Table 1). For ‘emancipationists’ and advocates of ‘equal rights’. the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the 1980s. Yet it provoked a year-long blaze of discussion in the Federal Republic. however. I discuss the history of the concept of ‘Mütterlichkeit’ in pre-Weimar. seems radical indeed. a revision of urban design. and earlier feminist ‘solutions’ to issues of reproduction reappraised. increased leisure time. Summer 1990 . And third. In contemporary feminism the goal of ‘equality’ has also been questioned. The radical feminist valorization of emotional aspects of ‘caring’—which is contrasted with ‘work’—has gained ground. I look first at debates in German feminism. flexible employment. socialist and radical feminist approaches. individualistic. occupation or sexual orientation. the issue also resonates with shifts and ambiguities in contemporary feminism internationally. abortion and equal opportunities. issued by a section of women in the West German Greens in 1987. for example. here hazarded from three angles. the resurrection of ‘Mütterlichkeit’1 spelled reaction. Its demands include collective provision for child care.THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO AND DISPUTES OVER ‘MÜTTERLICHKEIT’ Prue Chamberlayne From the standpoint of Thatcher’s privatized Britain. as has the recognition of biology in female experience and identity. in love and the desire for children. 1989) The West German identification of a separate constituency of ‘mothers’ exemplifies this trend. Feminism in the 1980s. (Adams. Bureaucratized welfare has cast doubt on public provision ‘replacing’ the family. even Nazism and Mothers’ Crosses. which have framed discussions about the Manifesto and are linked to wider developments in Western feminism. has pluralized into interest groups and a ‘politics of identity’ based on ethnicity. Feminist Review No 35. a questionable undertaking for an outsider. Disenchantment with the values of competitive. the reading of which is hotly contested. Debates within feminism While the parameters of present and past German feminism throw light on the Manifesto debate. Post-1968 feminism united broad strata of women. and Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party responses.

relegated to a ‘reserve’ as guardians of a dying culture. it is said. the dual labour market increases gender divisions. says one of the theorists of the movement. 1989:57). (1989:68) For the sake of humanity mothers must be returned to the centre of society.. time and organizational structures must be revised. which will none the less retain the possibility of difference. as well as a rediscovery and extension of eroticism in experiences surrounding reproduction. (reflected in a Berlin leaflet—‘Anyone wanting a child in this day and age is the victim of capitalist propaganda’ (Sichtermann. rather than simply embracing ‘what is’ among women. ‘Wir sind unsere Körper’ (We are our bodies) is an extreme version of this (Böttger. the Greens are seen to extend the masculinist project of capitalism. and the fields women enter. i. despite equal rights legislation. have lead to a painful and unresolved reconsidering of former certainties. these dilemmas are explored and debated in terms of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ between the sexes. envisages the development of a new male tenderness and responsiveness through intimacy with babies. comparable to that launched fifteen years ago by women against men. and in so doing. for paltry reward. for example. The ‘Mothers’ argue instead for the recasting of emancipation in favour of the 90 per cent of women who do three-quarters of society’s labour.8 FEMINIST REVIEW In the Mothers’ Manifesto. the so-called ‘post-feminists’ refuse to acknowledge the possibility of changing male behaviour. For. 1987:39). a reclaiming of female sexuality and fertility as a source of strength and potency. feel marooned. which will leave society ‘entsorgt’ rather than ‘Versorgt’ (without care rather than cared for). 1987:91) Their focus instead is on the . Mothers. Many balk at the ‘easy’ transposing of yesterday’s oppressions into today’s transformations and many look for new qualities in both sexes. neutered androgyns who have never seriously engaged with the issue of gender (Erler. Feminists claimed that roles considered ‘natural’ and biological were socially constructed and that women must free themselves from subjugation to the needs of others. Barbara Sichtermann. must gain ascendancy. 1986:17)) and the conflict between being a ‘good mother’ and ‘a good feminist’ (Gieve. (Rowbotham. need to learn how to form ‘object relations’ in their personal and public lives. Gisela Erler. for their part. as expressed in the desire for children. (Rosenfeldt and Stacey. for. argues Sichtermann. for example. and those who problematize the extricating of ‘femininity’ from its patriarchal ‘dispossession’ (Enteignung). ‘Mein Bauch gehört mir!’ (My stomach is my own) was a key slogan used in West German feminism against abortion clause §218. have difficulty constructing others as objects for themselves. In the ‘Mothers” view.e. all its unpaid reproductive work and one-third of its paid labour. 1989:112) Feminism in the 1970s rebelled against the equation of women with motherhood. intimacy and the uniting of body and soul. become devalued. The ‘guilt’ many women felt in the 1970s about wanting children. against exclusion and disadvantage. 1989) and of the need to find a greater correspondence between feminist perceptions and private desires (Ortmann 1989:116). the Greens have equated emancipation with employment. Yet more recently there has been a ‘repossessing’ of femininity from patriarchal definitions and from male ‘Körperentfremdung’ (physical alienation). By seeking freedom from gender’ in the labour market. mothers’ qualities of sharing. (Sichtermann 1983:69–80) Sichtermann seems then to be suggesting a transcendence of existing gender roles. have contributed to the reproduction of a world of work organized around time-efficiency and stress. 1987:17). just as men are currently unable or unwilling to be constructed as objects by and for others. Those who do ‘succeed’ are superwomen—childless. which have been all but destroyed by ‘reason’. Women. or ‘equal rights’ versus ‘autonomy’. of individualism and rational control over nature. hierarchy and élitism. (Pinl. but there has been growing feminist recognition of the interrelatedness of nature and culture. (Erler. 1987) The Manifesto is a declaration of war against non-mothers. By contrast. including local—and nationallevel politics. 1989:67) Few women achieve equality. (Stopczyk. women too. In West German debates on these issues there is an important difference between those who uncritically claim an ‘essential’ femaleness in existing women’s culture.

Writing in 1984. following much debate. at work. CDU family policy addressed the decline in the birth-rate and the rise in unemployment. 1988: Flieshardt and Steffen. however. In its initial 1980s phase under Norbert Blüm. (Rosenfeldt and Stacey. 1989: 116)) Blüm’s keynote document ‘Die sanfte Macht der Familie’ (The gentle strength of the family).THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO 9 female self—though here too. 1989:106) Another standpoint envisages a humanization of society through the transcendence of existing gender roles. 1988:17) CDU family policy Some equal rights feminists attribute ‘post’ or ‘new feminism’ to rightward shifts in government internationally rather than to developments within feminism. Other pro-family policies included the founding of the Stiftung Mutter and Kind (Mother and Child Fund). In one view. 1984) CDU ‘generosity’ towards the family has been more recently challenged on the grounds that the 10 billion DM package was heavily counterbalanced by cuts. 1986) Flieshardt. with 60 per cent of women aged 18–35 renouncing childbearing. (Beck-Gernsheim. It redefined ‘Beruf’ (profession) to include the housewife’s role. Although the first view echoes postmodernism in its rejection of reason as its guiding principle. feminism has shifted from individualistic notions of ‘self-determination’ and ‘self-realization’ to more relational concepts of ‘self-fulfilment’ and ‘self-consciousness’. together with the facilitation of part-time and voluntary work. focused ‘equal rights’ and ‘disadvantage’ on inequalities between working women and housewives. (Stopczyk. Chernobyl gave enormous impetus to the perceived need amongst many West German women to place food. perhaps nowhere more so than between neo-liberal Britain and the corporatist Federal Republic. estimates that additional annual government expenditure on child care amounted to only 0. (This figure is . life and well-being at the centre of public political agendas and gave rise to the demands for 50–70 per cent mothers’ quotas on public bodies and for an international ‘Weiberrat’ (women’s committee) such as apparently existed in Roman times. for example. the feminist sociologist Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim argued that these policies. Certainly in Germany there are discomforting similarities between right-wing and new feminist or ‘Mothers” politics. The new forms of rightism have however varied greatly. (Riedmüller.7 billion DM in the five years between 1983 and 1988. (West Germany’s low birth-rate. 1987:88) Similar divergences mark recent West German feminist responses to second-wave feminism’s call for ‘equality’ in the public sphere. or for peace. the 10 billion DM package of Erziehungsgeld (child-care allowance). in the environment. aimed to disemploy women and boost fertility. and marked the abandonment of CDU commitment to equal rights and ‘compatability’ between home and work. which paid mothers (or fathers) to stay at home with young babies. female values are called upon to rehumanize society. was widely criticized for its sentimental view of ‘neue Mütterlichkeit’ (new motherliness). it is basically specific to radical feminism and ‘Mothers’ are therefore more isolated as a political position. and in 1986. (Pfarr. Post-materialist values and romanticism are common to both. established in 1984 to make discretionary grants to forestall abortions on grounds of material hardship (which was the reason given for abortion in the majority of cases). suggested that emancipation lay in ‘self-fulfilment’ in motherhood and called on women to assert their ‘motherly’ qualities in the workplace. The post-Fordist and post-industrial prospects of a reduction in work-time lend credence to this approach. has created a panic about future dependency ratios. with veto powers over statesmen’s decisions. by breaking down the social division between production and reproduction. (Ortmann. whereas the second view enjoys the backing of mainstream Green and post-socialdemocratic thinking.

It stressed the need for greater choice and easier access to jobs for women. Implemented by his successor Rita Süssmuth. etc. * Timetabling of political life to suit mothers. (Pinl. In the political landscape mapped out by CDU family policy. The necessary legal and social conditions were pledged. desperate for the expertise and creativity of women. recognition of social experience of mothering. 1987) In response to the Essen principles. Rita Süssmuth distanced herself from the Manifesto in ‘10 Theses’. on a widening of ‘choice’ to include alternative living styles. insurance. the ‘Mothers” revaluation of traditional female roles positions their Manifesto closer to Blüm’s right-wing vision of ‘neue Mütterlichkeit’ than to Geissler’s post-Essen egalitarianism. * 50–70 per cent of women’s quota positions for mothers. mothers’ centres. and on basic income guarantees to home carers. introduced the so-called ‘Essen principles’. (Currently need 35 children to get minimum pension.) (Fleishardt and Steffen. the Mothers’ views are more radical and appear more left than neoconservative: more ‘radical’ in their vision of a female-dominated public sphere and more ‘left’ in their call for a child-friendly society underpinned by comprehensive state provision. the SPD and Greens Table 1 Summary of Mothers’ Manifesto demands * Remuneration. argued for the sharing of household roles. lifting age barriers to training and education. 1986) In 1980 more women voted SPD than CDU for the first time. The SPD calls for a 30-hour week and 30 per cent gender quotas at work. the Greens for a 35-hour week and 50 per cent quotas. . in politics and employment. in particular. In other respects.10 FEMINIST REVIEW unrepresentative of the later years. communal dining/living rooms. part-time work. which continues as a CDU theme despite ‘Essen’. (Jansen.3 (Geissler. Family and Health. these have been heralded as signalling a dramatic change in CDU policy. 1986) In fact post-Essen policy attempted to bridge home and work roles. * The right to fulfil the desire for children without constraints. rather than mere pension credits (Table 1). with a guaranteed social wage. Hysterically opposed by some sections of the party as a betrayal of mothers and a heroization of career women. Heiner Geissler. 1986:19) The new CDU policy was prompted by signs of women deserting the party for the Greens. since the main benefits of tax exemption and Erziehungsgeld only began to take effect in 1986. with paid child care. she repudiated the notion of a ‘women’s culture’ and of a merging of private and public life. however. including parenting—the possibility of fathers taking parental leave—and more social and financial recognition for ‘invisible’ domestic labour and voluntary activities. the then Minister for Youth.) * Neighbourhood infrastructure of crèches. pensions for mothers at home. with marked electoral mobility among women under the age of thirtyfour. predicted the collapse of whole sections of industry through the ‘baby year’ (child-care allowance) system. Thus in July 1987. She also warned against dividing mothers from nonmothers and excluding men from parenting. to achieve what Geissler in his Abschied von der Männergesellschaft (Goodbye to male society) described as ‘the central socio-political task of this century’. 1986:26). * Flexible access to work: shorter hours. to allow spontaneous life rhythms. (Geissler. In 1985. the SPD and Greens have insisted on more decisive policies towards gender equality at work and shared parenting at home. together with the exigencies of flexible specialization and the dual labour market. Against the CDU conceptualization of mother and housewife roles as alternative ‘careers’. Meanwhile employers. the programme described traditional gender divisions as ‘antiquated’ and called for action by influential sections of society to bring about ‘equal rights in everyday life’.

public provision for the 0–3 age group.. adjusted to costs and income. * Basic income of 1200DM (£400) per month. and courses in housework for men. the Greens’ prioritizing of employment rights is seen to have little bearing on feminist preoccupations with questions of social relations. latter 1200–2000DM (£400-£700) per month over 15 months or spread over 3 years. leave for home care and social activities. Greens’ demands for women * Elimination of abortion clause §218. choice of household form. right to return to work. ban on job sharing. male and female.THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO 11 * Male participation to be encouraged. additional to rent. * guaranteed workplace.. involvement of childless women. and for an ‘employment culture’ which would take child-care responsibilities into account. with relations between nature and culture. * Inclusion of education and training periods in pension entitlements. right to part-time work. contest the efficacy of privileging equal opportunities at work on at least three grounds. In the two years of its existence the Langen mothers’ centre had already set up a Chernobyl information centre. insurance. Firstly. suitable housing. e. * Abolition of joint taxation (Ehegattenssplitting). (Emma. the focus on women’s waged work is seen as deflecting attention from the considerable practical achievements of mothers in the Federal Republic in recent years. comprehensive child-care provision. adequate pay for child-minders. however. * Crèches or paid child care for political activity. that only when mothering and child care are given the reward and social regard due to them will men’s habits change. on tax allowances for child-care costs. They oppose the CDU tailoring of female labour to the post-Fordist labour market through the facilitation of part-time work. community meetings. established a babysitting and childminding network. Their response to the Mothers’ Manifesto has thus been hostile. funding of selfhelp parent initiatives. * Better provisions for disabled and for carers of elderly. ‘time rhythms’ and caring. under direction of mothers. e. i. no privileging of marriage. 1987) . (Erler. with eroticism. * Adequate.e. insist on women’s right and need to work.g. The ‘Mothers’. * Quotas and workplace strategic plans for equal opportunities. Mainstream Greens fear that the Manifesto offers a cheap and subversive option to their more fundamental project of humanizing society through the transcending of gender roles. variable hours (Kapovaz—kapazitätsorien-tierte variable Arbeitszeit) and home work (Heimarbeit). and argue instead for basic incomes for all. insurance for home carers. and the primacy of equality in the labour market. abolition of state guardianship for illegitimate children. pay for carers. flexible working hours and home-work. And thirdly. * Flexible. it had successfully lobbied for an increase in the number of local kindergartens as well as an extension of their hours of opening. a regular local radio phone-in programme.. 1989:63) They argue that change must begin in the sphere of reproduction.g. pay. The couple’ cannot cope alone. These achievements are illustrated by the remarkable growth in mothers’ centres in the 1980s. The congress itself held discussion groups on ‘women and politics’. needs-based child benefit and parental leave. * Working group (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft—BAG) for ‘Mothers’ within Greens. they are sceptical of the possibility of changing male domestic roles by reducing the working week. A mothers’ centre congress in the small town of Langen in 1988 attracted 500 women and 200 children from the national network of 130 centres. Secondly. given that ‘the 8½-minutes-a-day father’ has already received a twenty-hour reduction in working hours this century. a rights conference on ‘Mothers and Work’.

often as ‘Mothers after Chernobyl’ (Stopczyk. Whether the Essen shift. impetus for the Manifesto came from a research project undertaken by the Munich Deutsche Jugendinstitut (German Youth Institute). including education at higher maledominated levels. On the other. the term ‘geistige Mütterlichkeit’4 indicated the desired qualities educated. the Manifesto is clearly in line with Blüm’s family policy orientation. more direct. frustration and hardship of motherhood. 1989:95) The Cheraobyl initiatives and the Youth Institute report combined philosophical and practical concerns— two different thrusts which have been regularly apparent in the Mothers’ movement. aimed at halting a haemorrhage of CDU supporters to mainstream Greens. and the association of the term with Nazism. actually lost ‘traditionalist’ members to the Green Mothers would make an intriguing investigation and an interesting test of social movement politics. Coined in the 1880s. elements within the Mothers’ movement seek a cultural revolution to end industrial tyranny over ‘natural’ desires and spontaneous life rhythms and thus to save the world from destruction. they pointed particularly to the ‘external constraints’ contemporary mothering places on women’s everyday life and mother-child relationships. On the one hand. the anticipated conclusion was an SPD-style advocacy of familial adjustment through shared roles. The history of ‘Mütterlichkeit’ Two further reasons for the contentions surrounding debates on ‘Mütterliehkeit’ in West Germany are its prominence in early German feminism. In an account which may well be partisan since it comes from the pro-Manifesto collection ‘Mütter an die Macht’ (Mothers to Power) Stoehr traces three phases in the development of the notion of ‘Mütterlichkeit’. opponents of the Mothers Manifesto spread around Nazi Mother Cross stickers. 1989:108). 95 per cent of the 300 groups which sprang up were run by women. the ‘Mothers’ were unutterably shocked. Instead it was used to argue for greater civic power for women and for a public strengthening of feminine values against the vicissitudes of the machine age.12 FEMINIST REVIEW The Chernobyl disaster provoked vigorous political activity amongst German women. At conferences on the Manifesto each side has been said to be barely interested in the preoccupations of the other. the movement has demanded concrete measures to alleviate the isolation. (Stoehr. parental education and support services. ‘Geistige Mütterlichkeit’ constituted the basis for women’s participation in public life. though it was never used simply to validate biological motherhood or the values of ‘hearth and home’. Striking about both the women’s centres and Chernobyl initiatives. yet the breadth and depth of the Mothers’ vision. ‘Mütterlichkeit’ as a mobilizing theme belonged to bourgeois feminism. whether on practical matters or values. (At one Manifesto conference. Another. to create flexible access to work and a comprehensive infrastructure of child-care provision. With its regard for mothers’ roles in society. is that they appeared neither separatist nor restricted to women at home with children. and for some a dramatic ‘conversion’ to Mothers’ politics (Stopczyk. not as equals to men . unmarried women teachers should bring to girls’ education. Instead the researchers challenged the ‘social conditions of mothering’ and raised questions about the ‘emotional climate’ of mothering and the ‘contentedness’ to which it supposedly gave rise. beyond the energies they captured. The research brief was to investigate ways of modernizing and improving the functioning of ‘socialization agencies’.) Retracing the history of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century German feminism inevitably resurrects deep divisions between bourgeois and social democratic feminism. the latter ‘revolutionary’ until the First World War. 1989). outstrip CDU policy in any guise. indeed many of the Chernobyl groups were disbanded after they were taken over by the so-called ‘old activists’.

as it derives from our own culture’. (Hackett. As feminism entered the turbulent 1920s. (Stoehr. were rallied to defend traditional society. 1989:86) The position of the social democratic wing of the pre-Nazi women’s movement was equally complex. for example. Promises of emancipation. Helene Stöcker. 1989:76) In addition to counterbalancing male with female power. Here again ‘Mütterlichkeit’ was to exert itself in the public sphere through ‘female citizenship’ (weibliches Staatsbürgertum). partly to maintain links with the Social Democrats. held out for women’s right to work. It did not arise automatically in mothers. the family. bourgeois feminists sought to exercise their share of class power as professionals and employing housewives. they argued. In 1915 the ADF.123) A different view was being propounded by the broad-based movement for Mothers’ Day. still used the term in its original sense. As Gordon says: ‘At its edges feminism slides imperceptibly into non-feminist assertions of women’s power’. the professions. founded in 1904). Here mothers. counterposed ‘motherly being’ to the masculinism of industry. wife of Max Weber. League of Progressive Women’s Associations. monopolies and cartels. she argued that women must transcend both masculinism and ascetic moralism. founded 1855) invoked the concept in a call to extend women’s special influence in education. and local and national public life. president of the BM (Bund für Mutterschutz. In this context the notion of ‘Mütterlichkeit’ was used in counterposed ways. 1984:117. arguments for women’s right to work were increasingly contested. for example. ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘devotion’ were presented as the magic formulae by which mothers .THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO 13 but as stroftg individuals with distinctive qualities capable of humanizing the mechanical and bureaucratic world. At school. though conflicts over women’s roles exploded in mass actions over abortion rights. justice and reform paled in the face of the rigours of the labour market and inflation. for example. breastfeeding allowances (Stillprämien). switched its sixty-year commitment to protective legislation and the right to work to ‘protection from work’. which expressed itself in love and cooperation’ and for a’spiritual evolution’ of society against hatred and barbarism. however. social provisions and education. Yet it was ‘Radicals’ who often used ‘Mütterlichkeit’ in a biological sense to argue women’s suitability for certain types of work—philanthropic work with the poor. (Stoehr. All-German Women’s Association. physical motherhood had to be elevated into spiritual motherhood. founded 1899) who belonged to the pacifist left bourgeois’ umbrella organization. Bourgeois women also challenged ‘social state’ interventions in the domestic sphere. Marianne Weber. women would influence taxation policy. more ‘freedom’ in ‘inequality’. which at the time included hygiene inspections of housing. finding. girls should be taught household skills and shown the political nature of their daily tasks. domestic-science training for the poor and social work. Seeking to combine Nietzschean individualism with socialism. League of Women’s Associations. 1987:102) In the second phase of feminist organization around the theme of ‘Mütterlichkeit’. in 1905 the ADF (Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein. Thus. newly politicized as citizens. as some feminists fatigued by the double burden perhaps do now. and administer state interventions into family life. the protector of our racial heritage’. (Gordon. started in 1922 and supported by the Nazis. The intellectual. to ‘create our own personal view of the world and life. By 1927 it had 349 corporate members including twenty-six local authorities. The ‘Radicals’ (VFF—Verband Fortschrittlicher Frauenvereine. She hoped for ‘the triumph of “Mütterlichkeit”. the BDF (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine. That the path to women’s emancipation lay through employment was incontestable to the left. as ‘the refuge of the Volk. They feared women would become ‘objects’ in a process which they wanted instead to see ‘politicized’ through the collective organization of women as mothers—a process for which they coined the term ‘organisierte (organized) Mütterlichkeit’. founded 1894). all in the name of the ‘common good’ rather than ‘mothers’ interests’. housewives themselves and the reduction (Entleerung) of household roles through mass production became the focus of debate. League for the Protection of Mothers.

yet the BDF remained ambivalent on the question of whether women should work outside the home. 1986:142) Diehl dreamed of a Women’s Chamber at top government level. Bridenthal. and counterposed a six-hour day for all. retorted that children’s education might well depend on mothers’ earnings. ‘Old-time’ women leaders. The antithesis of women’s emancipation. (Koonz. 1986: 144) It is true that in the early 1930s prominent Nazi women voiced opinions similar to those of the bourgeois women’s movement. 1984) It is perhaps not surprising to find such opposing interpretations of the relationship between Nazism and earlier feminism as those of Stoehr and Koonz. 1986:166) Up to 1933 such Nazi women ran their various organizations fairly autonomously. (Bock. (Koonz. The Mothers’ Day organization. 1986. (Hansen. were dismissed and their . says Hansen. backed the repeal of abortion rights in 1932 and called on women to observe ‘racial and eugenic standards’. it was not supported by the BDF (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine). with a bigger share of housework by men! In recent years feminists in West Germany have interrogated the role of women under Nazism. to effect a spiritual revolution by women as a counterpart to Hitler’s political successes. 1986:173) In 1933 however Krummacher. and Siber declared. since the Nazi hierarchy was largely dismissive of them and they looked forward to leadership positions and strong state backing for women to maintain their own separate sphere in education. (Koonz.149) In reality. soon to become a Nazi supporter. ‘Women must create the family and the soul of the state’. women were simply mitigating the severity of the national crisis through their double role as workers and mothers. 1984:145. (Stoehr. distrusted for their energy. for example. was appointed to reorganize the women’s sections. Methuen 1982 would transform society. (Koonz. whereas for Koonz ‘the middle-class women’srights organisations subscribed to an ideal of motherhood shared by Hitler and his followers’. autonomy and commitment. In Stoehr’s view none of the earlier views on ‘Mütterlichkeit’ expressed within feminism served as a model for National Socialism. social work and family affairs. Gottschewski. hoped to make women’s ‘spiritual powers’ fruitful. supported by the full range of church welfare agencies. 1989:89) Gertrud Bäumer. particularly around the theme of complitity (Mittäterschaft). a man. Koonz maintains that it was in anticipation of such power that many former bourgeois women’s leader’s submitted to Hitlerism. Speaking at a BDF conference in 1931 the eminent Maria Baum lamented the spiritual impoverishment of women’s employment and pinned hopes on the family as a ‘fount of social revival’ against the ‘inhuman harshness of capitalism’.14 FEMINIST REVIEW Drawing by Claire Bretécher Frustration.

(Bock. Conclusion Pre-Weimar and Weimar versions of ‘geistige Mutterlichkeit’. 1984 and 1986) It is perhaps true that the dedication of many housewives to work in the home was the result of a drive to ‘improve their women’s world rather than competing in a political contest they could not win’. on the one hand as the objects of procreation promotion and abortion prohibition. all have a bearing on the Mothers’ Mani festo’. a nonentity. women made their strength their weakness. 1986: 145) Does this make the pre-1933 concept of ‘Mutterlichkeit’ responsible for at least aspects of Nazism. Haug argues that by according themselves a distinct sphere. It has much in common with the ‘geistige Mütterlichkeit’ of . whereas Gordon’s remarks veer towards timelessness and the wild ahistoricism of allegations of Nazism thrown at the Mothers. in their contended interpretations. and many middle-class women also worked actively in support of eugenicist policies in social work and administration. Because they did not more actively stand out against Nazism ‘non-socialist women’s leaders provided an avenue along which battalions of women marched into the Nazi world’. the Nazi mother cult and the CDU early 1980s ‘neue Mutterlichkeit’. allowing Nazis to appeal to them as housewives and mothers in their everyday lives. even if unwilling. 1987). Women were debarred from practising as doctors and lawyers. on the other as candidates for sterilization or forced abortion. (Koonz. She made dull speeches about ‘sacrifice’ and the need to use ‘feminine tactics’ and to avoid the overly sterile and intellectual weapons of reason and intelligence. in any event. even though the Nazis themselves fought it as ‘degenerate’ and ‘dreamy-eyed’ (‘ins Ungesunde ausartende Nachstenliebe’ and ‘Humanitatsduselei’)? (Stoehr. Such passivity and subordination ran directly counter to the pre-Nazi notions of an assertive public role for Mütterliehkeit’. 1986: 173) But such acquiescence. and surely not the stuff of which fascism is made.THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO 15 organizations disbanded in favour of the Women’s Front and Women’s Organization. ‘an important base for fascist regimes’. 1989) For Gordon the very positing of a deep difference between men and women may lead to submission to authority. Many bour-geois women’s organizations voted to disband in the face of Nazism. was ushered in to lead the women’s organization. but that was not enough. Imperial Union of German Housewives’ Associations) chose submission. (Gordon 1987: 95) Some Greens maintain that the motherhood model inevitably leads women to subordinate themselves to others. however. The housewives’ organization (RDH— Reichsverband Deutscher Haus Frauenvereine. There is a danger here of implying ‘universal truths’ about gender divisions and differences. Scholtz-Klink. amounted to complicity. Haug’s and Koonz’s comments are addressed to a specific historical situation. The Mothers’ Manifesto can be seen as yet another attempt in the long tradition of German feminism to assert human and female values over society and to define a gender-specific sphere of ‘Mütterlichkeit’. (Koonz. making the private into a public sphere. In the Federal Republic the debate has crystallized around a division between those who advocate female solutions to issues of humanity and those who seek to transcend existing gender roles. as I hope the opening section of this article has demonstrated. The BDF voted to disband rather than submit to Nazi conditions. Considerations of how ‘caring can retain its positive and predominantly female attributes but avoid the trap of self-subordination is a central concern of contemporary feminism (Gieve. In fact Bock argues that all German women were implicated in Nazism. It must also be remembered that the recency of the determination amongst German feminists to explore and address the scale and nature of women’s complicity in Nazism affects the situation in a way which is difficult for outsiders to gauge. (Haug. 1989: 92). all women were implicated in eugenic classi-fication and registration. The legacy of ‘Mütterlichkeit’ plays a considerable part in this polarization. free of subordination and permeating public life.

wir machen einen Auflauf!’—‘We’ve been boiling (cooking) for ages. and to have highlighted the importance of the constituency of mothers among ‘women’. Notes Prue Chamberlayne teaches Social Policy and European Studies in the Sociology Department at the Polytechnic of East London. Koonz’s ‘maternal spirit’ conveys the historical concept. which reappears in the left-radical interwar figure. as the mothers’ centre movement has shown. The Mothers’ Manifesto has the distinction of combining demands for a comprehensive set of collective facilities and financial benefits for mothers with the conception of a society hospitable to children in its physical and time structures. It will remain the special achievement of the Mothers’ Manifesto to have made a sufficient stir (‘Wir kochen schon lange. Helene Stöcker. whose support for the Greens rose from 42 per cent in 1980 to 70 per cent in 1987. (see section on history. 1987: N=2000) The Mothers’ Manifesto is also said to have influenced discussion in the SPD. Certainly Green support among women has not been adversely affected by the dispute. The crosses bore the legend The child ennobles the Mother!’. Ironically it may be this very ‘winnability’ that most antagonizes mainstream Greens. This article is based on a paper given at a conference at the Goethe Institute in May 1989: The Federal Republic—Forty Years On’. but many have an immediacy. six and eight children respectively. Once the ‘Mothers’ gained a special committee and funding within the Greens the debate died down. though there was little of the ‘transformative’ in his policy. and were issued in bronze.16 FEMINIST REVIEW early bourgeois feminists. It will be published by Gower in a collection under that title edited by Eva Kolinsky. It has close affinities with ‘geistige Mütterlichkeit’. at least judging by Emma’s survey of its readers. ‘intellectual’ or ‘enlightened motherliness’ are all possible but cumbersome translations of this. While offering men a powerful inducement to become involved in infant care. now we’re making a stir (soufflé))’. job guarantees and shorter working hours. Many thanks to Ilona Ostner for help with references. . CDU leader Blüm invoked the term again in the early 1980s. while SPD support dropped from 43 per cent to 15 per cent in the same years. Some of these challenging ideas appear utopian. ‘motherhood’ being too physical. She has recently done research in the GDR on neighbourhood and tenant participation and on housing co-ops. 16–20). though discussion has continued on aspects of home care (Betreuung) such as social insurance. ‘Spiritual’. and is currently writing on various aspects of women and social policy in Western Europe. Geissler and Süssmuth. including perhaps their hotly disputed decision in autumn 1988 to advocate three years of paid shared parental leave. this policy also recognizes that the parenting of small children involves full-time commitment. 2 On Mother’s Day 1939. Leading Nazi women who voiced similar ideas up to 1933 had their hopes of power dashed. preferring ‘partnership’ to the traditional gender divisions of ‘neue Mütterlichkeit’ and the Manifesto. and to Erica Carter and Eva Kolinsky likewise. p. Her original degree was in German. (Emma. have also rejected the latter’s collectivism. 1 ’Neue Mütterlichkeit’ literally means ‘new motherliness’. to put the special needs of mothers and children on the political agenda. a term much used in earlier feminism. who fear detraction from what they consider the more fundamental goal of systematic gender quotas in all public spheres and time off for both parents to fulfil child-care commitments. but sounds inept for modern usage. silver and gold. half to be forfeited if not taken by the male partner. so I have kept to the German. and for discussion and encouragement. for four. 3 million Honour Crosses of the German Mother were awarded to prolific mothers of ‘good character’ and ‘Aryan stock’.

27. GORDON. Sheila (1989) To be or not to be: the dilemmas of mothering’. Veränderungen in den letzten 20 Jahren. PASS-WEINGARTZ. or working less than eighteen hours a week. London: Methuen. no. 31. (1988). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. HANSEN. Beiträge zur feministischen Theorie und Praxis. Feminist Review. in GERHARDT. Linda (1987) ‘Review essay: Nazi feminists?’. BECK-GERNSHEIM. compulsory sterilisation and the state’ in BRIDENTHAL. no. it was increased from ten to twelve months in January 1989. Judith (1987) ‘Second thought on the second wave’. AUS POLJTIK UND ZEITGESCHICHTE. Elisabeth (1984) ‘Frauen zurück in die Familie?’. Special issue on opposing family policies. Katherine (1987) ‘Rethinking feminist attitudes towards motherhood’.19. BÖTTGER. ORTMANN. in BRIDENTHAL. for any parent at home fulltime with a child. Deborah and STACEY. G. (The Greens) (1987) Stellungnahme grüner Frauen zum Müt-termanifest. BOCK. Introduced in 1986. taz 23 March 1987. Barbara (1987) ‘Macht und Liebe. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.(1989). no. Renate. Gisela (1984) ‘Racism and sexism in Nazi Germany: motherhood. et al. (1984). Abschied von der Männergesellschaft. da will ich auch hingehen—Befremdliches über die Zukunft der Geschlechtsrollen’ in PASS-WEINGARTZ. BOCK. G. et al. Feminist Review. Johannes (1986) Renaissance der Familie?. New York: Monthly Review Press. Gisela (1989) ‘Herr. no. taz. (1984). Frankfurt/M: Ullstein. Mary Louise (1989) ‘There’s no place like home: on the place of identity in feminist politics’. Beiträge zur feministischen Theorie und Praxis. PETER et al. R. no. Gisela (1989) editors. BRIDENTHAL. 600DM (£200) are paid for the first six months. KOONZ. Barbara (1988) ‘Das Neue an der Frauenbewegung-Versuch einer Wirkungsanalyse der neuen Frauenbewegung’. Amy (1984) ‘Helene Stöcker: left-wing intellectual and sex reformer’. Hamburg: Rowohlt. Nirgends—Auf der Suche nach einem feministischen Politikverständnis’. and ERLER.THE MOTHERS’ MANIFESTO 17 3 An allowance.18. GEISSLER. in addition to maternity leave. Claudia (1986) ‘Die CDU und die Frauen’. GROTTIAN. Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany. ROSENFELDT. in GROTTIAN et al. 1984 B20/84.25. EMMA (1987) West German feminist magazine. 8 July 1987. Hedwig (1989) ‘Die Verleugnete Mutter’ in PASS-WEINGARTZ. R. Heide (1988) ‘Mutterschaft und Mitleid—Der Zauber konservativer Frauenpolitik’. (1984).172. PFARR. Feminist Review. Claudia (1987) ‘Mütterfrust gegen Emanzen’. 31. Claudia (1986) Mothers in the Fatherland. (1984) editors. Peter and STEFFEN. and ERLER. HAUG. (1988) editors. Die Wohlfahrtswende—der Zauber konservativer Sozialpolitik. Feminist Review. D. after which a ceiling on income operates. New Left Review. GERHARDT. 4 See note l. When Biology Becomes Destiny. Gleichberechtigung und Subsistenz —Kein Ort. wo Du bist. 27. . ERLER. no. Mütter an die Macht. Mechthild (1987) ‘Ritas Kritik am Müttermanifest’. Karen (1984) ‘Mothers’ Day in the Weimar Republic’. GIEVE. JANSEN. no. Uta. Gisela (1986) Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus—Studien für Rassenpolitik und Frauenpolitik. (1988) editors. FLIESHARDT. WSI Mitteilungen 1. Frauensituation. Frigga (1989) ‘Mothers in the fatherland’. HACKETT. D. PINL. DIE GRÜNEN. no. R. Hamburg: VSA-Verlag. et al. ROWBOTHAM. Feminist Review. Heiner (1986) editor. PINL. Dorothee and ERLER. RIEDMÜLLER. Uta. in BRIDENTHAL. References ADAMS. (1988). It is paid to single mothers in addition to welfare payments and can be moved from one partner to another. Munich: Beck.

G. G. STOPCZYK. (1989). (1989). The Politics of the Personal. and ERLER. in PASSWEINGARTZ. . Irene (1989) ‘Mütterfeminismus—ein alter Hut?’. in PASS-WEINGARTZ. D. Original publication in Germany in 1983. STOEHR. Barbara (1986) Femininity.18 FEMINIST REVIEW SICHTERMANN. Annegret (1989) ‘Von der “autonomen emanzipierten” zur “müt-terbewegten” Frau’. D. Oxford: Polity. and ERLER.

Feminist Scholarship in the Age of Multinational Reception
Lata Mani

‘“unusual knowing”, a cognitive practice, a form of consciousness that is not primordial, universal, or coextensive with human thought.[…]but historically determined and yet subjectively and politically assumed’ (de Lauretis, March 1990). On the acupuncturist’s table, Berkeley, California, July 1988. I am lying in wait for the complex verbal negotiation that attends each visit to my acupuncturist. I want a diagnosis—a definable illness, a definite cure. He is disdainful of this desire for clarity and resolution and insists on treating my body as a zone in which energies rise and fall, sometimes rebelliously, at other times gracefully and once even, as he put it, ‘stroppily’. As I ponder the frustrating untranslatability of his idiom, he asks the dreaded question: ‘Well, what is your Ph.D. thesis about?’ I stare at the infra-red lamp and wonder which version to present. The various responses I have elicited over the years race through my mind like a film running at high speed. My usual strategy is to assess the cultural politics of those addressing me (such as I can discern them), the tenor of the question (is this a serious inquiry or merely a polite one?) and my frame of mind at the time (do I want to educate, be patronized or try to avoid both by being vague, but thereby risking the impression that I know not what I am doing?). I did not, however, have time for such musings. I was trapped under the beady eye of my white American doctor of needles who, having taken my pulse, was awaiting a reply. So I blurted out what Iconsider my minimalist ‘no-nonsense’description: ‘I am working on the debate between colonial officials, missionaries and the indigenous male élite on sati (widow burning) in colonial India.’ I felt weak, as though it had been a confession extorted from me after intense cross-examination. I sighed inwardly. Meanwhile, my declaration had provoked what turned out to be a half-hour lecture on the dilemmas of cross-cultural understanding. He said that such practices would always be difficult for Westerners to comprehend, hastily adding that it was important none the less not to impose alien values and that sati probably had a particular significance within Indian culture which it would be enlightening to know. At this point he turned away from my foot, into which he had just finished inserting needles, and asked, ‘So how do you understand widow burning?’ I felt myself stiffen. He had thrown me a challenge that would require a command performance in colonial and post-colonial history and discourse, one that I did not feel equal to at the time. So I said evasively, ‘It’s a long story and ‘I’m trying to sort it out.’

Feminist Review No 35, Summer 1990



‘Good’, said the genial man in the white coat tapping my arm. Not waiting for a response, he continued. ‘Of course, you are Westernized and your ideas have probably changed from living here. I wonder what women in India feel about it?’ So saying, he left the room. I was furious. I had not interrupted his liberal, relativist, patronizing discourse, and was as a result caught in its pincer movement: an apparent but ultimately repressive tolerance, a desire for ‘true’ knowledge, and a demand for authenticity that was impossible for me to meet, given that any agreement between us, however fragile and superficial, would immediately make me ‘Westernized’: not like ‘them’ but like ‘him’. I wished for the millionth time that I had been working on a less contentious topic, one that, unlike sati, had not served as metonym for Indian society itself…or had had the panache to wag my finger like him and say, ‘Read my book and you’ll find out’. The emergence of a politics of location This paper explores questions of positionality and location and their relation to the production of knowledge as well as its reception. These issues have animated feminism from its inception. Here they are approached through a set of interconnected reflections, on the processes that shaped my study of debates on sati under British colonialism, and on the different ways in which this analysis has been received in Britain and in India. Such alternative readings thematize the politics of intellectual work in neo/post-colonial contexts, and the difficulties of achieving an international feminism sensitive to the complex and diverse articulations of the local and the global. Contemporary theory in feminism and in the humanities has brought a critical self-consciousness to bear both on the place and mode of enunciation (who speaks and how) and that of its reception (how it is interpreted and why). As claims to universality and objectivity have been shown to be the alibis of a largely masculinist, heterosexist and white Western subject, both readers and writers have had to confront their particularity and history. Gender, race, class, sexuality and historical experience specify hitherto unmarked bodies, deeply compromising the fictions of unified subjects and disinterested knowledges. Such developments, or should I say acknowledgements, require attentiveness to the theoretical and political impulses that shape our projects, and an openness to the inevitable fact that different agendas may govern their reception. Needless to say, there have always been multiple investments and diverse audiences. Our accounting of these phenomena today simply attests to the successful struggles for discursive spaces of those overlapping and hitherto marginalized groups, women, Third World people, gays and lesbians. Institutional concessions to the heterogeneity of the social landscape has prompted the emergence of new fields of study within US universities, for instance ethnic studies and-women’s studies. It has also given new momentum to interdisciplinary work. The current mobilization of talents and energies around culture studies is a case in point.1 The revolt of the particular against that masquerading as the general, of what Donna Haraway has called ‘situated’ as against ‘disembodied knowledges’, (Haraway, 1988) has brought to the fore theoretical and political questions regarding positionality and identity. This issue has probably been most fully developed within feminism, in part in debates about the relationship between experience and knowledge. One locus of such discussion in the Euro-American context has been the related struggles over racism and white centredness of dominant feminism (Moraga and Anzaldua, 1981; hooks, 1981, Amos et al., 1984; Bhavnani and Coulson, 1986, among others) and its replication of elements of colonial discourse (Spivak, 1981; Mohanty, 1984; Minh-ha 1986/7; Lazreg, 1988). Feminists have called for a revised politics of location —‘revised’ because, unlike its initial articulation, the relation between experience and knowledge is now seen to be one not of correspondence, but fraught with history, contingency and struggle (In addition to the



authors already cited, see Bulkin et al., 1984; Segrest, 1985; Rich, 1986; de Lauretis, 1986; Kaplan, 1987).2 These terms powerfully suggest some of the problems of positionality as they confront me: a post-colonial Third World feminist working on India in the United States. Chandra Talpade Mohanty argues that developing a politics of location requires exploration of ‘the historical, geographic, cultural, psychic and imaginative boundaries which provide the ground for political definition and self-definition’ (Mohanty, 1987:31). Location, in her terms, is not a fixed point but a ‘temporality of struggle’, (p. 40) characterized by multiple locations and nonsynchronous processes of movement “between cultures, languages, and complex configurations of meaning and power.’ (p. 42) These processes, in Mohanty’s view, enable ‘a paradoxical continuity of self, mapping and…political location… [M]y location forces and enables specific modes of reading and knowing the dominant. The struggles I choose to engage in are then the intensification of these modes of knowing.’ (p. 42).This definition of the space of politics very nicely illuminates the dynamics of how my conception of a project on the debate on sati in colonial India bears the traces of movement between cultures and configurations of meaning, multiple locations and specific modes of knowing. My research examines colonial official, missionary and indigenous élite discourses on sati in Britain and India in the late eighteenth—and early-nineteenth centuries. I investigate the conditions of production and the burden of each of these discourses, the intersections, differences and tensions between them, and the competing and overlapping ways in which they were deployed. Among other things, I argue that a specifically colonial discourse on India framed the debate on sati, producing troubling consequences for how ‘the woman’s question’ in India was to be posed thereafter, whether by Indian nationalists, or Western feminists (Mani, 1989). One of the things that has prompted and sustained my energy through hours of plodding through archival documents and reels of dizzying microfilm has been a conviction of the importance of the contemporary ideological and political legacy of such debates about women and culture. I have always been aware that this legacy has had a differential trajectory in India and in, for example, the US or Britain: that the relation of this earlier discourse to contemporary knowledges, popular and specialist, about India in the West, was different from its relation to the contemporary self-knowledge of Indians. It is the contours of this difference that this paper will now explore. The following section reflects on the experience of presenting my work (Mani, 1987) to groups in the US, Britain and India and discovering that the audiences in these places seized on entirely different aspects of my work as politically significant. These responses in turn have caused me to reflect on how moving between different ‘configurations of meaning and power’ can prompt different ‘modes of knowing’. The experience has also required me squarely to confront a problem not adequately theorized in discussions of positionality or of the function of theory and criticism: the politics of simultaneously negotiating not multiple but discrepant audiences, different ‘temporalities of struggle’.3 Back to the future: the after-lives of colonial discourses ‘Colonial’ or Eurocentric discourses on India, and on the Third World more generally, have an abiding presence in the USA and Britain, the two Western countries with which I am most familiar. Television documentaries, scholarly writing and popular wisdom circulate such notions as the centrality of religion— whether framed as the essential ‘spirituality’ of the East or as the dominance of caste (Inden, 1986; Appadurai, 1988)—the antiquity of Indian ‘culture’, and the victimization of women. These ideas ‘hail’ those of us living here with a systematicity that, over time, makes them truly oppressive. As a Marxistfeminist who had come to feminism in India, I initially responded to the predominance of culturalist

immigration controls and policing of Asian marriages and family life. They have charted a complex strategy. or by white feminists in the interest of ethnocentric versions of women’s liberation. contests and determinations. brahmanical texts have come to represent quintessential Hinduism. 1988). questions of rhetoric and strategy: how to argue for women’s rights in ways that were not complicit in any way with patriarchal. over what constitutes ‘tradition’. To some extent this is not surprising. discussions after my presentations explored. who defended ‘culture’ and ‘women’ in a similarly overdetermined context (Parmar. on occasion virtually unreconstructed. In Britain. The significant difference between then and now is that black feminists (unlike many male nationalists) have insisted on keeping women at the centre of the struggle. we explored how the British state manipulates women’s ‘oppression’ in Indian and Pakistani ‘culture’ to legitimate virginity tests. by black men on behalf of tradition and community integrity. inhabiting a timeless zone. Quite simply. 1982. 1984. Indeed. Grewal et al. In this context. and immobilized by ‘tradition’. Thus. ‘of their own lineage’). in the service of British racism and US cultural imperialism.. This ‘civilizing’ racist British state has placed black feminists in Britain in a position analogous to that of nineteenthcentury Indian male social reformers. for instance. By and large. primarily as an academic and historical argument. the dynamics of which I would barely have been able to fathom when I first arrived in the US. they have resisted both the ‘proteetion’ of men in the black community when it has come with a defence of practices oppressive to women. Certainly. I brought this new sensibility to bear on reading the debate on sati. critical to the elaboration of hegemony. In short. resonances or rearticulations of what I had sketched. Simultaneously. this dimension of my project was interpreted quite differently. given that the British state draws on key elements of nineteenthcentury discourses on India to further its own current projects. For although I have read many of the same documents as other historians. however. In India. for instance. there does not exist a serious convention of representing Indian citizens as lacking agency. However. The repetition of such incidents as my encounter with the acupuncturist. whether by the state in the name of civilized modernity. Notions of ‘timeless textual traditions’ or the essential spirituality of Indian society have a different afterlife in the Indian public domain. they are not. I consider excavation of the colonial prehistory of such ideas to be a political gesture. compelled me to think seriously about the prehistory of such knowledges about India and Indian women. and the colonial legacy of making religious scriptures the basis of civil law has enormously complicated feminist projects of legal reform. Given a context in which elements of this nineteenth-century discourse continue to circulate.22 MULTIPLE MEDIATIONS understandings of Indian society with surprise and bemusement at the ignorance they betrayed. by and large productive. they have challenged the selfserving appropriation of ‘women’s issues’ by a racist British state. On the one hand. most discussions that followed presentations of my work in the US or Britain tended to focus on the contemporary replications. Except in the case of Government of India documentaries on tribal peoples. an alertness to how British colonialism may have shaped knowledge about colonized society has turned up unexpected disjunctures.. notions like ‘timeless traditions’ function most often to inspire literature from the Indian Tourist Development Corporation or to feed the fantasy life of petit-bourgeois middle—and high-caste Indians regarding the glory of ancient India (read. among other things. It has been. and white feminist attempts to rescue them from patriarchy. refusing to let themselves become mere pawns in a contest between the state and community. this kind of . as in Britain. black feminists in Britain have refused ‘salvation’. my delineation of the colonial dimension of these discourses was seen to have an explicitly political character. racist or ethnocentric formulations of the issues. Indian and nonIndian. I believe. Amos et al. I assumed that such ignorance must also account for my having so often to explain the supposed anomaly of being an Indian feminist. or sometimes in relation to remote rural areas. development policies explicitly embrace the logic of modernity.

Such a reading is further comprehensible because. the activities of the nation state are themselves related in complex ways to regional and global geopolitical trends. This last point was made in my presentation in relation to the recent controversy over reform of Islamic law provoked by the ‘Shahbano case’. for example. naming something ‘colonial’ in India has. It comes as no surprise. that in India. not inappropriately. then. 1987. but it is the local face of this international phenomenon against which one is moved to struggle. Kishwar. rather than a crucial move in developing an oppositional. existential sense. and the legacy of colonialism in contemporary discussion of women’s issues. they point to significant parallels between nineteenth-and twentieth-century debates on women. ideas are potentially available for different kinds of appropriation by different social forces. and as struggles over a community’s autonomy and right to self-determination. I did not assume that the persistence of certain discursive elements implied unchanged significance. In analyzing the case. given that the authority of the Indian state has been continually challenged since independence. in the Bhopal industrial disaster. While these terms do not exhaust the arguments made in relation to the case. No doubt. discourses.) What I am suggesting is that. contests over women’s rights were being debated as contests over scriptural interpretation. the limited parameters within which nationalists posed the question of women’s status. The Indian context thus presents a sharp contrast to the West. Shahbano. anti-imperialist critical practice. for example. in this as in many instances in the nineteenth century. dominant social and political institutions. histories and practices that its identity as ‘Western’ is refracted and not always salient. in a palpable. Suffice it to say that the case. many nations in the Caribbean or in Central America. 1985. accordingly. The case was one in which the Supreme Court had upheld the application of a Muslim woman. and is bolstered today not by a democratic consensus but through a brutal and increasingly unashamed use of violence. served to convey some of the political impulses of my project. unlike. when one is in India. Despite India’s economically dependent status in the world economy and its wilful exploitation by multinationals and agencies like the World Bank. the ‘colonial’ dimension was of academic interest. little confusion about the ultimate culpability of the US-based corporation Union Carbide. a different import. This is not to say that Indians are naive about the impact of the West. The pressure one feels compelled to resist is rather that of the nation state. The Supreme Court’s verdict became a rallying point for many Muslims who felt that the court had (contrary to its claims) violated Islamic law and thus undermined the only legal protection Indian Muslims enjoyed as a religious minority (Punwani. colonialism does indeed seem like a thing long past. My interest in such continuities was in the ways in which they constrained the form and content of contemporary discussions. It becomes a question of periodization. 1986. meanings or effects. more than any theoretical argument about ‘colonial discourse’. fell to the practical problems of building coalitions between Hindu and Muslim women in the wake of the divisiveness produced by the Shahbano case and the growth of communalism in Indian politics. 1987:153–6). in India it is not the boot of imperialism that is felt as an identifiable weight upon one’s neck. the marginality of women to nineteenthcentury discussions supposedly about them. however. it was possible to point out how. . the ‘political’ dimension of my work is seen to be expressed primarily in my engagement with nationalism. (Mani. (There was. The burden of the discussion. Even here. 1989). Pathak and Sunder Rajan. ‘the West’ as ideological and political presence articulates with such a density of indigenous institutions. and religious ‘fundamentalisms’ of various kinds. Engineer. for lifelong maintenance from her ex-husband.FEMINIST REVIEW 23 analysis would be difficult to sustain.

My interest in these was not merely that of a historian of ideas. Consequently. however. as in Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands (1987) an enabling moment for the possibility of a collective politics attentive to difference and contradiction. colonial official and missionary discourses on India. by implying that their politics are exceptional and ungeneralizable. 1989). This charge may be levelled by First World intellectuals demanding a spurious authenticity of their Third World colleagues. also be shared by Third World intellectuals working in the Third World. I have tried to train myself to look . I find it significant that an Indian friend of mine once remarked that the full force of Said’s argument in Orientalism had come home to her only after spending time in Europe. have to leave home to sell out. It implicitly conceives of the West and non-West as autonomous spaces and thereby evades the thorny issue of their intersections and mutual implications (Mohanty. and one does not. it runs the risk of dodging entirely the question of location. It seems to me that travelling to the US and living under its regimes of truth regarding India and the Third World more generally have intensified for me certain ‘modes of knowing’. ‘selling out’. Here again we have a prescription which may make sense in specific instances. such as asymmetries in the material conditions of scholarship in metropolitan and Third World contexts. The criticism in this instance may be rooted in the assumption. in my own case. This strategy is compelling when such a demonstration of hybridity becomes. one’s geographical location and the formulation of one’s projects. Prior to this she had believed. there is the possibility of adopting a tactic which would separate projects into what is deemed appropriate or inappropriate to do ‘while one is in the West’. The disjunctions between how I saw myself and the kinds of knowledge about me that I kept bumping into in the West. Such problems are. It is.24 MULTIPLE MEDIATIONS Situating our interventions These differing receptions of my work in Britain and India raise questions regarding the relationship between ‘experience’ and ‘theory’. discourses and attitudes I was encountering and helped me in the task of situating personal experiences within a historical problematic. the elaboration of hybridity becomes an end in itself. On the other hand this strategy also has the potential for side-stepping the issue. When. Reading Edward Said’s Orientalism in this context was enormously productive and energizing (Said. working on the Third World in the belly of the First? For one thing. serving only to undo binary oppositions. not always unwarranted.4 It seems to me that the politics and epistemology of differing readings such as these dramatizes the dilemma of post-colonial intellectuals working on the Third World in the West. that intellectuals abroad are. In the face of this discourse of authenticity. of course. It contextualized the phenomena. would I proceed to delineate. however. I can only wonder at how my project might have been fashioned in the absence of this experience of travel to a different economy of power and knowledge. ultimately simplistic because it overgeneralizes. assertions about ideological contamination are often shorthand allusions to genuine issues. This analysis may. some Third World intellectuals working in the First World have reterritorialized themselves as hybrid. To this one must say. and this is a fairly common perception in India. the potential and limits of my location. ‘necessary but insufficient’. stretching a point. for those intellectuals from the geographical Third World who have an elsewhere to return to. it seems to me that the mode of knowing enabled by the experience of existing between discursive systems makes it difficult for me to isolate colonialism as a distinct historical period with little claim on the present. Finally. then. so to speak. In this regard. Alternatively. How. not clarified by a moralistic formulation of the issue in terms of purity or pollution. that Said was perhaps overstating his case. for political and practical reasons. however. 1979). One diagnosis of this situation accuses such intellectuals of inauthenticity or ideological contamination by the West. It quickened my impulse to take more seriously than I had previously been inclined to. however. but of someone curious about the history of the present. It often works to challenge the latter groups’ credibility. opened up new questions for social and political inquiry.

1988. But as I reflect on what moves me. it seems to me that my attempt to specify location might also be fruitfully undertaken in dialogue with feminists in India. in the latter through aggrandizing it. yet to be adequately thematized in the literature on colonialism in India. Priorities redetermined: the aftermath of Roop Kanwar’s burning The difficulties of straddling different temporalities of struggle cannot. are ultimately benign and noncontradictory. The incident has sparked off a nationwide controversy on sati in India. but has paid comparatively little attention to its impact on culture or on conceptions of it. Each of these is more elaborate than my characterization of it suggests. Roop Kanwar died on the funeral pyre of her husband in Deorala. In this recent case. the dangers of reading the local as global are potentially present both in India and in the West: in the former through minimizing colonialism. I also need to be aware that I now inescapably participate in multiple conversations. Meanwhile.FEMINIST REVIEW 25 for discontinuities in apparently smooth surfaces. all emerged as key items in the debate. a lesson learnt earlier from Marxism: an abiding suspicion of primarily cultural explanations of social phenomena. State officials were present along with an estimated 300. Sangari. only time will tell. issues of scriptural interpretation. the deadening essentialism of much historical and contemporary Western representation of the Third World has confirmed for me. referring readers to others who have analyzed them more thoroughly (Patel and Kumar. It may be that I accent the colonial rather more heavily than my imagined counterpart. albeit in a different way. Historiography on nineteenth-century India. too late.000 others at an event ‘honouring’ the episode thirteen days after the burning. the socalled ‘traditional’ nature of sati. Perhaps the ways in which I may be tempted to frame the problem will be marked by the fact that it became an issue for me as a result of my experience of Britain and the US. On 22 September 1987. and dragged out of the closet vociferous supporters of the practice. among others). Secondly. Four positions were discernible in the discussions that followed upon Roop Kanwar’s death. After all. while they may alternately diverge and intersect. the role of the state. the response was too little. As in the colonial period. What counts as ‘culture’? How is it conceived and represented? With what consequences? In short. women’s social conditioning and the question of the widow’s consent. perhaps not paradoxically. critical of sati as ‘traditional. This is a problem that is. There was firstly. a massive debate on sati had been set in motion. 1988. and when the state finally banned glorification of sati. In the meantime. for instance. the feminist writing in India.’ ‘religious’ and barbaric and arguing that the incident represented the . to my mind. with opponents and defenders staking out their claims in terms that were in many ways remarkably reminiscent of the nineteenth-century controversy which is the subject of my own research. a ‘liberal’ position. I have been persuaded of the need to open to critical reflection the vexed and complex issue of the relationship between colonialism and questions of culture. its barbarity. not all of which overlap. experiences of such a persistent privileging of ‘culture’ have in turn compelled me to take very seriously the domain designated by it. has produced sophisticated analysis of the impact of colonialism on India’s economy and politics. the government of India vacillated in taking action against family members found to have coerced Roop. At the same time. however. As for the gains of being situated in the interstices. unearthed the information that there have been at least thirty-eight widow immolations in Rajasthan since independence. Rajasthan. There are political moments which pose limits to the possibility of conceiving of international feminist exchanges (whether between First and Third World women in the West or between Third World women cross-nationally) as negotiated dialogues which. and continuities across the dominant and oppositional. but my purpose here is merely to sketch in broad strokes the discursive space that was constituted. always be resolved through listening for and talking about our specificities.

contemporary liberal incomprehension parallels nineteenth-century colonial horror. is merely the product of a dehumanized market morality. if not unwilling. 1987. 1987. and opposed to this. Again. feminists warned against the danger of demanding more stringent laws and greater state intervention.26 MULTIPLE MEDIATIONS failure of the project of modernization. is not the direction in which Nandy develops his argument. ‘glorious past/degraded present’ and ‘authentic/inauthentic sati’. and to my mind. Ashis Nandy. Both cast sati simultaneously as an exceptional practice and one that is emblematic of society as a whole. 1987). The latter two are brought together in his positive evaluation of the original. not religious devotion. to comprehend the masses. however. concern for women’s lives was very much at the centre of feminist discourse. they pointed out that Roop Kanwar was a city-educated woman while her husband had a degree in science and her father-in-law. a trenchant critic of the philosophies of modernization and development. mythological sati. Nandy’s ire is directed mainly at what he perceives as the ‘Western’ modes of denouncing sati’ reproduced by ‘modernists’. the religious is secular where women are concerned’ (Jaising. 1987. genuinely anti-imperialist position (even though. 1988a. 1988. Bhasin and Menon. What is even more curious. challenged attempts to frame the issue as one of tradition or religion and located the Deorala incident within post-independent political and economic developments in Rajasthan (Kishwar and Vanita. Indira Jaising put it thus: ‘just as the personal is political. They highlighted the appalling lack of will . 1988. This. In addition to the insufficiency of derisively analyzing sati as ‘traditional’. 1988. In a sense. Vaid. educated men in their twenties and thirties. Feminists insisted that Roop Kanwar’s death should be understood in the context of the general subordination of women in Indian society. although reserving the burden of its critique for the former and ultimately aligning itself with the latter. tap water and a 70 per cent literacy rate (Kishwar and Vanita. Patel and Kumar. Further. 1988b). We may agree with Nandy that the incomprehension of sati expressed by the liberal media required examination and critique: after all. 1988. but rather a prosperous town with electricity. was the conservative. 1988b). 1987). In arguing that cries of ‘religion’ could not absolve anyone of murder. however. The fourth. overlooking thereby important distinctions between feminist and liberal critiques of the practice (Nandy. He reaffirms the ‘tradition/modernity’ dichotomy in analyzing the practice. urban Indians. was employed as a school teacher. was a third stance (Nandy. 1988) whom he scorns as modernist. Religious arguments were similarly exposed as serving to legitimate the oppression of women. The sense of its exceptionalism emerges in analyses of sati which treat it in isolation from women’s subordination in general. is that Nandy’s critique of the colonial mentality of these modernists itself reproduces three key moves of colonial discourse. unlike Nandy’s it was not articulated as such) was that taken by feminists. Not surprisingly. pro-sati lobby. whose members were urban. as against his negative description of contemporary widow burning which. sati is only one among many practices exploitative of women. Feminists also pointed to the modernity of the incident and to the character of the pro-sati lobby. feminists argued that such a ploy would play into the hands of pro-sati ‘traditionalists’. among others). while its emblematic status is dramatized in the way in which the incident has provoked anxiety about the nature and extent of India’s social progress. decultured urban bourgeoisie. This valorized sati’s ‘traditional’ and ‘religious’ status and argued that the rationality of the practice was necessarily inaccessible to westernized. Kishwar and Vanita described how the daily rituals around the spot where the burning had taken place resembled victory celebrations. castigated liberal condemnation of sati as the response of a rootless. the recurring pleas of liberal opponents of sati. Madhu Kishwar and Ruth Vanita argued that Deorala was not a rural backwater. he claims. Sangari. Secondly. and replicates the colonial oppositions. Finally. said to express women’s sacred and magical powers. Philipose and Setalvad. unable. Nandy’s stand on sati has drawn sharp criticism from feminists (Qadeer and Hasan. one of the abettors. For example. Ostensibly critical of both these positions.

a procedure that involved British officials in determining and enforcing a colonial version of the practice deemed traditional and authentic. guarantees nothing. Considerable care will be necessary in framing my discussion in such a way that only a deliberate misreading can appropriate my arguments to reactionary ends. I argue that these developed within the constraints of a discourse on Indian society privileged by the British. These fears have largely been realized. 1987). whose abolition by the British in 1829 supposedly illuminates. marginal to the current debate. we saw. Women thus appear as obstacles to societal reform. 1988). perhaps in my discussion of the nineteenth-century debate on sati I should also explicitly engage the contemporary moment so as to clarify how once again. that intervention in sati provided grounds for intervention in civil society. Local police have used their powers to harass journalists and others investigating the case and. one of the provisions of the legislative act on sati makes its victims liable to punishment: women who attempt sati are hereafter to be subject to fine or imprisonment! The events that have followed Roop Kanwar’s burning have radically changed the Indian context for my work. a ‘historical’ problem. despite the law against abetting and glorifying sati. then. as it had been when I began. The former are more active in mobilizing a constituency and have had the support of political parties more wedded to securing votes than to fundamental rights of any kind. it is generally conceded. and that here too. and as individuals who must be trained to take up the duties of modern life with its own requirements of good wife and mother. My point is that ultimately. Among other things. I point out that legislative prohibition of sati was preceded by its legalization. Widow burning is no longer. How. but because neither seemed to me to be selfless and benign in their espousal of women’s rights. has called into question the overly positive evaluation of the civilizing impulses of colonialism and the modernizing desires of protonationalism and nationalism: not because women did not gain from them. for both officials and missionaries.000 people gathered at Deorala in September 1988 to ‘celebrate’ the one year anniversary of the burning of Roop Kanwar (Pachauri. what is occluded in the following statement which represents a dominant story about colonialism and the question of woman: ‘we came. and the possibility that the state would merely abuse the greater powers that would accrue to it. Taking the instance of sati. arguments about women’s rights have provided the basis for a further . This context has made it imperative to contextualize and frame in particular ways some of the arguments I develop in my thesis. par excellence. I make a related argument about nineteenth-century indigenous discourses on sati. And perhaps worst of all. in some detail. I have tried to suggest that the story is much more complicated. we intervened’. but very much a charged and explosive contemporary issue. we were horrified. My argument. they are.FEMINIST REVIEW 27 demonstrated by the state in prosecuting Roop’s in-laws. nor even centrally concerned with them. women were not really at issue. might my critique of the civilizing mission be appropriated in the current situation? Part of my argument has been to show. with the signal exception of feminists and some progressives. that ambivalence to the practice is discernible even among those passionately opposed to sati. Women rather provided ground for the development of other agendas. alas. The discursive space is principally being defined by conservatives and liberals. with horror being reserved primarily for fundraising material produced for a British public. the legitimacy of this account. an estimated 8. I argue that missionary involvement in sati was similarly complex and ambivalent. concern for women seems secondary to concern for ‘tradition’ or for the general good of society. Although my own discussion here has focused most on feminist arguments. In addition. and that a fundamental ambivalence to sati structured colonial attitudes to the practice (Mani. for instance. How will such a critique of colonialist and nationalist arguments against sati resonate in India today? Is there any danger that my critique of the terms of these arguments will be read reductively as support for sati? Authorial intention.

even determining. 1989). eoercion and consent. I was lucky to be in India in the aftermath of Deorala. A static conception of agency intersected with the assumption of religious hegemony to marginalize the ways in which women actively negotiated and struggled against the social and familial constraints upon them. social conditions (Ong. For instance. The discourse of woman as victim has been invaluable to feminism in pointing to the systematic character of gender domination. viciously oppressed. Against this. By and large. But if it is not employed with care. chance encounters on buses and trains. I also know that it comes from a conviction that structures of domination are best understood if we can grasp how we remain agents even in the moments in which we are being intimately. this dualistic conception of agency led to legislation requiring women to be crossexamined at the pyre and being permitted to burn if their action was declared to be voluntary. in and of themselves. The possible implications of other issues. which consistently effaced signs of women’s agency in struggle. the issue was formulated more broadly in terms of women’s social position and of the meagre alternatives available to them. and accounts of group discussions held in schools. The widow’s will has been a recurring theme in both the nineteenthand twentieth-century debates on sati. it leaves us with reductive representations of women as primarily beings who are passive and acted upon. Here. despite being a central concern. 1984). such as exploration of the question of women’s agency. feminists far more consistently than liberals. 1989 develop such complex analyses of women’s agency). 1987 and Gordon. consent was sometimes conceived as impossible by definition: women were simply deemed incapable of it. political and community organizations. The problem of women’s agency occupies a paradoxical position in feminist thinking in that. appear to be even more treacherous. This is equally true of poststructuralist theory which. I know that part of my own concern with these questions comes from a sense of the extent to which Third World peoples are consistently represented in Eurocentric discourses as lacking agency. My combined impressions strongly suggest that great care will have to be exercised in making arguments such as a critique of the Western civilizing mission. and questioned the meaning of consent. It is crucial to stress in . family members and neighbours. made claims about the ‘voluntary’ nature of the act. already victim’ (Mohanty. because. Lucky. or in conjunction with a dynamic conception of agency. while being critical of the bourgeois conception of agency as the free will of an autonomous self. In the earlier debate.28 MULTIPLE MEDIATIONS entrenchment of patriarchy in the name of ‘tradition’ (a point made by many Indian feminists) and for the arrogation of greater powers to the state in the name of ‘modernity’. Grasping the situation required the cumulative experience of countless conversations with friends. it was pointed out that one could hardly speak of consent when widowhood imposed its own regimes of misery. public meetings. Much of this would obviously have been unavailable in print. At other times. In other words we are left with that common figure of Eurocentric feminist discourse: the Third World woman as ‘always. I have long felt anxious about how a broader consideration of women’s agency is foreclosed by its reductive translation into an issue of whether or not the widow went willingly. those against sati today have developed this latter argument. newspaper clippings and magazine articles could not have conveyed to me the political temperature there. it remains poorly theorized. Limiting discussion of women’s agency in this way makes it difficult to engage simultaneously women’s systematic subordination and the ways in which they negotiate oppressive. colleges. then as now. resistance and coercion (Mani. What is forsaken here is the notion of women’s oppression as a multifaceted and contradictory social process. In the colonial situation. Nowhere is this more evident than in colonial eyewitness accounts of sati. discussion of agency is framed around the limited and analytically unhelpful binary terms. Those defending sati have. has yet to produce an adequate alternative formulation. opponents of sati have emphasized coereion. reports from feminists and civil libertarians who had travelled to Deorala.

She has been active in feminist struggles in India and in feminist and antiracist work in the US. 2 As a whole. we run the risk of producing a discourse which sets women up to be saved. Cornell University. However. Gayatri C.FEMINIST REVIEW 29 this regard. An earlier version of this paper appeared in Inscriptions. I am also indebted to Indian feminists and progressives whose political insight and imaginative interventions in the contemporary debate on widow burning have been inspiring and instructive. Firstly. But in raising them in the current Indian context. current legislation on sati. bell hooks (Gloria Watkins) and Gayatri C. 1988). that when Indian feminists speak of woman as victim it is in a complex material sense. April 22–3. ‘Critical integration: talking race. Mary John and Kamala Visweswaran have left the imprint of their critical readings on the final version of this paper. be an unhelpful. The law states that any such punishment must take account of the circumstances in which the woman’s decision was taken. 1989. one walks a tightrope. resisting racism’. Conference on Feminisms and Cultural Imperialism: The Politics of Difference. if not disastrous move in the Indian context. Santa Cruz in 1989. why should we trust that this proviso will not work against women? In the short term. or engaged. This would situate women within feminist analysis in ways that are similar to their positioning within colonialist or nationalist discourse. to claim that women are agents even in their coercion is to court the possibility of misappropriation by the right wing. Vivek Dhareshwar. if not done with extreme care. What might be a valuable pushing of the limits of current rethinking of agency in Anglo-American feminism. it must take account of the worlds in which it speaks. it seems safest to counter the notion of woman as free agent by emphasizing her victimization. Notes Lata Mani received her Ph. Conference on Feminisms and Cultural Imperialism: The Politics of Difference. ‘Post-coloniality and the field of value’. as Norma Alarcon (forthcoming).Spivak. the critique of US white feminism has been taken up very unevenly and has failed fundamentally to transform dominant feminist thinking. Ruth Frankenberg. Cornell University. Santa Cruz. 1 The relative rapidity with which the concept of ‘culture studies’ has found institutional support in the US academy compared to ethnic or women’s studies should give us pause. University of California.D. It is also important to note than in emphasizing women’s systematic subordination rather than debating questions of agency. . from the University of California. bell hooks. however. Aida Hurtado (1989) and Chela Sandoval (forthcoming) have recently argued. implicitly conceives of them as ‘free agents’. 1987/8:5) we should also add the notion of a ‘where’. Spivak have recently mapped out what is at stake intellectually and politically in the kinds of theoretical and curricular agendas being privileged and excluded in the institutionalization of Third World’ or ‘culture studies’. Secondly.5. 1989. unless we include in this a complex sense of agency. however. 1983:1–30) or ‘situated’ (Haraway. If criticism is to be ‘worldly’ (Said. Perhaps to Bruce Robbins’ suggestion that theory is a ‘when’ not a ‘what.5 Questions of agency provoke issues at the heart of feminism. But given that legal and political institutions routinely punish victims instead of perpetrators. given the dominant discourse on sati. The example of women’s agency is a particularly good instance of the dilemmas confronted in simultaneously attempting to speak within different historical moments and to discrepant audiences. Kum-Kum Bhavnani. no. may. 1989 April 22–3. then. by making women attempting sati liable to punishment.’ (Robbins. Indian feminists are specifically attempting to counter rightwing discourse that falsely proposes women’s total freedom.

S.D. (1990) ‘Eccentric subjects: feminist theory and historical consciousness’. K. The Politics and History of Family Violence. Feminist Studies. There is firstly the theoretical resistance of those working within an objectivist paradigm to his social constructionist approach. Chicano Criticism in a Social Context. BHASIN.14. E. Boston: South End Press. for example. AMOS. a response tied to both geographical location and historical experience. P.20. Modern Asian Studies. P. 5 Rajeswari Sunder Rajan is approaching the problem of the widow’s subjectivity in sati from a different perspective. DE LAURETIS. felt that the book’s value for them was seriously limited by its primary focus on the West and its lack of analysis of internal class and power relations in colonized territories. The Lawyers Collective. I. vol.. (1987) ‘Women. A. K-K. M. BULKIN.. no. (1989) ‘Relating to privilege: seduction and rejection in the subordination of white women and women of color’. R. one chant: Black-feminist perspectives’. (1989) Heroes of their Own Lives. the political and ideological impetus of Said’s project has generally not been apprehended as compelling. then. A. no. Jose D. A. religion and the law’. C. (1986) editor.1. no.. She argues that the ‘methodological impasse’ generated by the ‘coercion-consent’ framework can be avoided if the question of the widow’s subjectivity is engaged via an exploration of ‘both the phenomenology of pain and a politics that recognizes pain as constitutive of the subject’ (forthcoming). M. B. Cultural Critique. See also. N.. J. V.17. LEWIS. Cultural Anthropology. (1981) Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism.6. G.11. Said. 4 There may be many reasons for a critique of Said’s Orientalism. (1986) ‘Orientalist constructions of India’. Seminar. KAPLAN. no. no. in India. and COULSON. London: Hutchinson. PRATT. in CALDERON and SALDIVAR. (1987) ‘Deterritorializations: the rewriting of home and exile in Western feminist discourse’. (1988) editors.14. L. INDEN.. no. GORDON.. (1987) The Shahbano Controversy. Special Issue on sati. T. G. vol. (1987) Borderlands/LaFrontera:TheNewMestisa. vol. (1984) editors. CALDERON. Signs. R.30 MULTIPLE MEDIATIONS 3 Edward Said (1986) raises the problem of discrepant experiences and constituencies but develops instead a case for foregrounding the shared intellectual and political terrain produced by colonialism. References ALARCON.3. HURTADO. 1985). Feminist Studies/Critical Studies. MAMA. T. B. Many Indian readers. 1983:226– 47). and MENON. ‘Many voices. and SMITH. Feminist Review. APPADURAI. .B. New York: Penguin. (1988) ‘Situated knowledges: the science question and the privilege of partial perspective’. New York: Long Haul Press. Feminist Review. G. and PARMAR.4. GREWAL. HOOKS. and PARMAR. L. San’Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute. ANZALDVA. no. A.3.3. Charting the Journey: Writings By Black and Third World Women. Hector and SALDIVAR. (1988) ‘Putting hierarchy in its place’. My point here. London: Sheba.23. (forthcoming) editors. BHAVNANI. Feminist Studies. ENGINEER. vol.342. CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL STUDIES (1982) ‘The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain. no. some more persuasive than others (Mani and Frankenberg. Durham: Duke University Press. (1986) Transforming socialist-feminism: the challenge of racism’. LEWIS. Bombay: Orient Longman. KAY. is not that there are no grounds to criticize Orientalism: rather that. LANDOR. vol. (1988) ‘The problem’. (1984) Yours in Struggle: Feminist Perspectives on Racism and AntiSemitism.A. Then there is the question of the scope of his argument.2. DE LAURETIS. (forthcoming) The theoretical subject(s) of This Bridge Called My Back and Anglo-American feminism’. JAISING. no. HARAWAY. Bloomington: Indiana.

32.13. MANI. (1983) editor. —— (1986) ‘Intellectuals in the post-colonial world’. R. November 24.342. ONG. Cultural Critique. (1984) ‘Under Western eyes: feminist scholarship and colonial discourses’. (forthcoming) ‘US Third World feminism: the theory and method of oppositional consciousness’. and FRANKENBERG. VAID. 1988. (1987) ‘Contentious traditions: the debate on sati in colonial India’.C. also published in SANGARI and VAID 1989.K.8. (forthcoming) ‘The subject of sati: Pain and death in the contemporary discourse on Sati’.14.342. diss. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Yale Journal of Criticism. 1988. Economic and Political Weekly. no.l. University of California. (1986) ‘Pro-woman or anti-Muslim? The Shahbano controversy’.2. (1986) ‘Notes toward a politics of location (1984)’. in CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL STUDEES (1982). no. Boundary 2. P. vol. R. (1988) ‘Feminism and difference: the perils of writing as a woman on women in Algeria’. no. (1988) ‘Demystifying sati’. Indian Express. (1989) ‘“Shahbano”’. Social Text. locating the politics of experience’. October 15. November 14. and VANITA. MANI. (1989) ‘Contentious traditions: the debate on sati in colonial India. (1985) ‘The challenge of Orientalism’.30). in ‘Oppositional consciousness in the post-modern world’. L. ‘She the inappropriate/d Other’. K. and ANZALDUA. I. ROBBINS.D. (1987/8) ‘The politics of theory’. KISHWAR. NY: Firebrand Books. race and class: Asian women in resistance’. and SETALVAD. The Illustrated Weekly of India. New Delhi: Kali. (1989) editors. S. L. no. ——(1988a) ‘The human factor’. MOHANTY.2. C. C. January 23. no. SPIVAK.1. SANGARI. (1982) ‘Gender. ——(1988b) ‘Sati in Kaliyuga’.K. MOHANTY.1. M. G. Signs. P. (1989) ‘Us and them: on the philosophical bases of political criticism’. SAID. Manushi. and SUNDER RAJAN. QADEER.. 70–1. vol. PATEL. India Today. Doctoral dissertation in progress.14. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color. Special Issue on Sati. PARMAR. and VAID. The Illustrated Weekly of India. no. Watertown Mass: Persephone. E. March 13. Z. PUNWANI. Spring/ Fall. A.12. Discourse. Albany: SUNY Press. PATHAK. A. SANDOVAL. Z. J. Special Issue on Sati.S.14. p. no. Ph. ——(1987) ‘Feminist encounters.P.3/vol. T. Feminist Studies. (1987) ‘The sociology of sati’.FEMINIST REVIEW 31 KISHWAR. . (1987) ‘Deadly politics of the state and its apologists’. (1988) ‘Turning a blind eye: glorification of sati continues despite the law’. October 5.62. Economic and Political Weekly. —— (1983) The World The Text and the Critic. no. Economic and Political Weekly.7. LAZREG. MORAGA. New York: Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press. R.42–3. no. (1987) ‘The burning of Roop Kanwar’. M. vol. G. SEGREST. vol. Seminar. January 17. no. no. (1985) ‘The strange case of Shahbano’. The Sunday Observer. SUNDER RAJAN. Salmagundi. New York: Norton. Yale Journal of Criticism. no. (1988) ‘Perpetuating the myth’. September 17. vol. K. B. S. SMITH. Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. MINH-HA. no. (1985) My Mama’s Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture. (revised. and KUMAR. (1987) Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Resistance: Factory Women in Malaysia. Feminist Review.3. Yale French Studies. vol.B. no. Santa Cruz. 1780–1833’. in Blood Bread and Poetry. PACHAURI. Copyright.T. M. no. RICH. no. Ithaca. p. (1988) ‘Politics of Widow Immolation’. Seminar. M. T (1986/7) editor. (1981) ‘French feminism in an international frame’. Recasting Women: Essays on Colonial History. NANDY. A.1. S. (1981) editors. and HASAN. Manushi.2. R. L. SANGARI. MANI. PHBLIPOSE. New York: Vintage. Economy and Society. no. C. (1988) ‘Defenders of sati’. (1979) Orientalism. University of California.18. TRIHN. Santa Cruz. K.

These articles. In fact the need to conceptualize some kind of space for the female spectator. In the second. the early eighties saw a shift in emphasis away from the text and towards the reader. was addressed by Mulvey herself in the second article ‘Afterthoughts’ and has since been located as an important site for feminist theory. restless in its transvestite clothes. she continues to use psychoanalysis as the frame of reference in accounting for the pleasure available to the female spectator and points to ‘the ego’s desire to phantasise itself in a certain active manner’. too. Feminist Review No 35. formed. Pearl brings out its sadness. she moves to a consideration of the position of the female spectator. is the female spectator’s phantasy at crosspurposes with itself. In the first article. Two articles by Laura Mulvey have been crucial in this respect: ‘Visual pleasure and narrative cinema’ (1975) and ‘Afterthoughts on “Visual pleasure and narrative cinema” inspired by Duel in the Sun’ (1981). paradoxically. so to speak! With the proliferation of work on popular cultural forms. has provided insights into the workings of patriarchy. since the mid-seventies. the basis for what became the orthodox feminist approach. her sexuality. although intended as radical forays into enemy territory in search of weaponry that might be useful in the ideological struggle. which leant heavily on psychoanalysis. So. been informed by Freudian psychoanalysis in attempting to explore the mechanisms by which patriarchy organizes psychosexual structures within ideology. Summer 1990 . Rather than dramatizing the success of masculine identification. Mulvey unashamedly pillages Freud as a means to unpacking patriarchal texts (Hollywood films) and investigating the male gendering of film audiences. Work on female representation in the cinema has. However. to account for the pleasures women clearly derive from cinema and TV.CAGNEY AND LACEY REVISITED Beverley Alcock and Jocelyn Robson Theoretical context Much contemporary writing within the field of cultural studies addresses the agenda set by feminist film theory. The article concludes in a particularly deterministic way: I have argued that Pearl’s position in ‘Duel in The Sun’ is similar to that of the female spectator as she temporarily accepts ‘masculinization’ in memory of her ‘active’ phase. While it is true that subsequent feminist work. Her ‘tomboy’ pleasures. for at least a decade we appeared to be stuck with the Oedipal baby and the Freudian bathwater. except in death. it is also true that it has obscured alternative approaches. particularly television. are not accepted by Lewt.

in opposition to Gamman. any more than does the role of Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby or The African Queen. pleasurable perhaps but not progressive. At all events the proposition that dominant meanings may be dispensed with by an act of choice on the part of the reader seems altogether too simple. Gamman proceeds like a theoretical guerrilla. While in a sense this does locate one kind of pleasure available to the viewer. It is from this perspective that we will be looking at Cagney and Lacey and commenting on what we see as the demise of Christine Cagney. Introduction In a period of marked conservatism in both society and popular entertainment. into a traditional female space. She gives as an example the use of mockery by the two female protagonists. Traditional gender roles appeared to be challenged by the casting of two women as active professionals in a cop partnership. that of audience and the active role of the female reader in the struggle between dominant and opposition meanings within cultural production. through the workings of the plot. and taken up by Gamman. In the analysis that follows we abandon psychoanalysis in the interests of positing a reader who is not completely fixed within the strict gender opposition male/female. This is precisely the lesson of seventies’ film theory.FEMINIST REVIEW 33 Despite its pessimism. One example of this approach is Lorraine Gamman’s article ‘Watching the detectives: the enigma of the female gaze’ (1988). In her article. in much the same manner that Mulvey lifts ideas from Freud. such ‘buddy’ relationships had previously been reserved for men (e. is the lesbian subject. An example of this is her use of the notion of ‘the female gaze’ with which she seems to be arguing that we can reclaim the text by seizing the look. Our reader ‘freewheels’ between the poles of sexual identity and identification. to undermine the machismo of certain of the male characters. in which she inverts Mulvey’s notion of the man as the bearer of the look and argues that in the series Cagney and Lacey the female viewer may locate certain strategies at work within the text which serve to disrupt the dominant male gaze. In our view. since the strong woman character is often relocated. For what feminist film criticism has always failed to take account of.g. the article nevertheless marks out a new terrain. liberating ideas from feminist film theory which seem useful. Gamman seems to be saying little more than that it is important to have strong female characters with which to identify. an area that is being explored within the contemporary context. she is neither unhappy nor restless in ‘transvestite clothes’ because she is used to violating the boundaries staked out by heteropatriarchy. both in terms of female representation and female readership. the presence of such characters does not necessarily subvert the patriarchal working of the text. the TV show Cagney and Lacey has attracted attention for its seemingly more liberal stance. not only in fantasy (the cinema) but also in the world. It is our view that the series Cagney and Lacey is not so easily rescued. most notable in feminist work on the ‘femmes fatales’ in film noir. Furthermore the lesbian reader is potentially more ready to perceive that within the operations of popular culture the punishment of the strong woman also entails the laying of the lesbian ghost. . theorized by Mulvey after Freud. and we suggest. with particular reference to the last three episodes of the penultimate series broadcast in the UK during the summer of 1987. but unlike the female spectator Mulvey envisages. as in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and cop series (even those featuring women) had not convincingly reflected the changed position of women in society. This ignores any consideration of the patriarchal structuring of the subject who reads and wipes out at a stroke the most crucial insight that Mulvey provides. that it is a fundamentally reactionary text consistent with the mood of the late eighties.. Such a subject theoretically and actually ruptures the strict opposition of the Freudian model which underpins the heterosexual world view.

The career woman (played by Glenn Close) in Fatal Attraction is a malign and obsessive person who threatens the stability of the family unity and is violently eradicated by her rival (a ‘proper’ woman). body language and dress differ markedly from Christine’s and her nature is generally constructed as female within this context. she worries a lot about her family. as well as traditional gender roles. and a house (not an apartment). In particular. Despite these liberal concerns.. Lieutenant Samuels. Her humiliation can be seen as the price she must pay for her independence and her rejection of traditional family and sexual roles. She does not try to wear the trousers at home and at work. First and foremost she is successful because she has the ability to integrate her roles at work and at home and she finds fulfilment in both. Further. Cagney and Lacey shares some of their concerns. she is seen to have established herself in these ways despite an unsatisfactory relationship with her own father. for she is also a mother. her male colleagues treat her with distance and respect. including those they shared with their families. She plays by the rules. Nevertheless.34 CAGNEY AND LACEY Further. as we shall describe later. as we shall describe. most of the key discussions take place in the context of the precinct but in spaces which are separated off from it. via alcoholism and a freewheeling lifestyle. notably the concern with the relationship between women’s working and private lives. The show thus appears (at first sight) to challenge strict generic boundaries. these two sites (of work precinct and home) although distinct. the women’s room. . Similarly. The generic crossover between cop show and soap opera serves to identify. as we hope to show. The protagonists Mary Beth Lacey is a successful woman. with whom she still refuses to communicate. that despite a more liberal outlook in political terms. the show quickly developed many of the generic features of soap opera (such as an emphasis on the importance of the woman’s role) and as such it was able to construct a series of private spaces for the women. partially fulfils this role. She is a true woman. the masculine and feminine aspects of the key characters and. as it were. she is emotional. Such films may be thought of as the legacy of seventies’ feminism. there are some basic similarities between Cagney and Lacey and the much more overtly reactionary Fatal Attraction. as patriarchy protects. On duty. Accordingly. despite their conflicting demands. meet and overlap in the bodies of Christine Cagney (woman and cop) and of Mary Beth Lacey (woman and cop). independent women who transgress against the heteropatriarchal order must be punished and face rehabilitation (or death). Her husband Harvey will nurture and protect her. the squad car. It follows perhaps. a loving husband and children. eg. it examines the friendship and the emotional ties between the two women in such a way that this friendship itself eventually becomes central to the drama. She has in fact a ‘proper’ family. but it extends others. we shall argue that there is in Cagney and Lacey a fundamentally reactionary project at work in the demise of Christine Cagney. Lacey is less militant than her partner on issues relating to women. as at home. There is a sense in which Cagney and Lacey are both honorary ‘men’ at work since they are agents of law in a patriarchal order. The seventies produced a crop of ‘women’s films’ which featured strong women characters and at times (as in Julia and Turning Point) strong friendships between women. however. is afraid and feels joy. she cries. she draws her strength from them. the rest of the men in the precinct collude and Mary Beth fits comfortably into the space constructed for her. As in forties’ melodrama. the authority figure within the precinct. The discrepancy between what Cagney and Lacey are (women) and what they are at work (cops) generates the most interesting motor of their relationship. Christine Cagney is brought to heel. though far less violently of course. At work. Mary Beth’s interaction. In a contemporary context.

He brought her up and she loves him uncritically. the gun collector flirts with Christine and invites her to accompany him on a shoot. guns (obvious signifiers of maleness) are identified as belonging to Cagney’s province. Christine is consequently ‘lost’ and must be found (or rehabilitated) by another (true) woman. the lesbian spectator may be more inclined to seize the oppositional moments and so liberate the text. Cagney is in charge of the fire-arms check. Christine is able to efface this difference. She balks at the concessionary nature of her positioning inside the patriarchal space. in Cagney. in itself a contradiction since power is normally a masculine attribute. For the first time there is a promise that their potential for a relationship that is more than just buddies will be explored. colludes with her disregard for the rules of the precinct. her father Charlie is an important role model. a cop. it becomes plain that the majority of her male colleagues are flouting the rules of the precinct either by carrying the wrong gun or by carrying too many guns. like daughter’. as ‘Detective Cagney’. we have a representation of a powerful woman. The episode opens with a visit to the precinct by a gun collector from the South who is reporting the theft of one of his weapons. It is in several ways the most significant of the three since in it. Christine’s discomfort at her positioning as a woman. the friendship between the two women comes under close scrutiny for the first time in the series. As we have already noted. ‘I like a man that’s heavily armed. we see Christine failing to acknowledge the fact that Charlie is responsible for his own death and eventually colluding with his alcoholism. to be the active desiring one and to share the excitement of the narrative drive. They are also explicitly associated with sexual interactions. the links between them are strong. Later. Family life for Christine had been far from happy. another female cop in the precinct remarks suggestively. in the precinct Christine wanders dangerously close to the boundaries. As such. He assures her that ‘it is pretty exciting stuff’ to fire an automatic weapon. In the precinct context. through identification with Cagney. as the site of power and danger. a drinker. as a member of a family or even a sisterhood is repeatedly contrasted with Mary Beth’s contentment and ability to care. For Christine. The men . and a person unable to sustain a relationship. she announces at his funeral). her parents quarrelled a great deal and Christine’s sympathies were with her father. In the episodes we shall examine. The double-edged nature of her position as the desirable one (classic female blonde) and the one who desires (active cop) allows the spectator a range of reading choices increasingly rare in contemporary female representations. but it is this act that contains the seeds of her self-destruction.’ The incident with the gun collector serves to encapsulate the contradictions inherent in the Cagney character: her role as the blonde who is attractive to men (and to the male spectator) and her own active desire for men. as a result of Mary Beth’s sustaining a gunshot wound.FEMINIST REVIEW 35 Christine Cagney is a woman who wants to be a man. Christine is most of the things her father Charlie is or has been—Irish. In the precinct. he is an ex-cop and he too has a drinking problem. Christine a woman. her dress (despite the fluffy jumpers) her body language and her interactions indicate that she considers herself to be part of the male ‘buddy’ network. (‘Like Dad. There is of course one crucial difference— Charlie is a man. As suggested above. he in turn. Whilst it allows the male audience to respond traditionally. Narrative themes The first of the three episodes we are concerned with is entitled ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’. it also opens up a space for the female spectator. It may be possible to argue that as a woman who rejects her assigned gender role. She wants equivalent power and status and she wants independence. Her nature here is constructed as male. Certainly.

the trappings of power. they may (it is suggested) render the wearer sexless as well as safe. To Harvey. Lacey. Crucially. Cagney (like the men) is reckless with hers. The vests are an encumberance. the victim. The female signifier. it is the gun collector’s missing gun that later wounds Lacey.36 CAGNEY AND LACEY Orion are generally casual about their weaponry. In accordance with the rules of the precinct. is the bullet-proof vest. they appear to flaunt it and to resent Cagney’s attempts to make them more accountable. Lacey wears her vest. To Charlie. is careful about her gun and her body. Christine looks ‘chunky’: ‘I thought you might be pregnant or somethingl’ As the episode . the protection from the gun. Cagney (like Isbecki) has to be reminded. Mary Beth feels ‘like Yogi bear’ when she is wearing the vest.

Mary Beth accuses Christine of letting her down. on the level of gesture and emotional charge there is more than a hint of sexual anger and physical attraction. She is ‘punished’ for this by the knowledge that if she (and not Lacey) had been shot.’ replies Samuels. She had taken it off the night before at Charlie’s and has left it there.’ While the verbal cues in this exchange reinforce a reading in terms of Mary Beth as caring ‘mother’ and Christine as wayward ‘daughter’. Why is it all right for you to die?’ ‘No.’ Mary Beth: ‘No. however. An exasperated plumber has called at her apartment twice and twice she has failed to leave him the key. she includes Christine in her list of family members. The exchange is reminiscent of that between an angry mother and a wayward daughter. she replies that it is to protect her ‘everything’.’ Mary Beth stops her: ‘Not this time. however. sister. Mary Beth asks. Christine leaves the precinct without her vest.’ Mary Beth brings Christine with her to her next interview. Twice. comes the angry response. The male characters respond in distinctive and protective ways. indeed. In response to Christine’s question as to whether this is to protect her broken rib. Papers are disappearing from her desk in the precinct. She nurses anger at her partner and significantly she refuses now to remove her vest. Christine turns to tablets and to drink and. Lacey is alive because she followed the rules. and not Lacey: ‘Nobody ever shot your wife. she feels she is being ambushed. Clearly the imagery which charaeterizes this episode functions to throw into relief the difference between the two women and to represent Cagney’s impending crisis as specifically the result of bending gender boundaries. In the confrontation that follows. Christine’s casual ‘forgetting’ may be seen as a refusal to accept her gender role. A visit to psychological services is routine after such incidents and Cagney is reminded of this by Samuels. as a symbol of both female sexuality and vulnerability that becomes the central motif in the unfolding emotional drama between the two women. she would have died. In response to Mary Beth’s assertions of care and concern for her. increas ingly. somebody shot one of my detectives. Increasingly. . Well.’ says Harvey.’ Therapist: ‘It’s OK. there are signs that in both professional and personal spheres she is failing to cope.FEMINIST REVIEW 37 progresses it is the vest. it’ll always be you’. On the second occasion that they are called out in pursuit of the gun thief. Charlie returns Christine’s vest to her and colludes with her failure to wear it. When Lacey is describing her background to her therapist. There is an implication too. detective. The therapist withdraws and the two women are alone in the room. Christine stalks to the door: ‘I don’t want to hear any more of this crap. She is dismissive of her interview with a therapist but Lacey is not able to shrug off recent events so easily. she did what a good cop should do and there is talk of a promotion. it’s not. Since the vest signifies vulnerability and femaleness. She is not happy. Harvey takes his anger out on the Lieutenant (the man really responsible) who colludes with his anxiety. As if to underline this point. Christine is defensive and accuses her partner of collusion. it is not all right if I die’. her relationship with Lacey is strained. ‘You act like it is. it’s not. She expresses fear and denial but also acknowledges her unhappiness: Therapist: ‘It’s OK. Christine Cagney. she assures Harvey of her loyalty as a wife: ‘If you ask me to choose between you and the job. that she is alive and whole because of her acceptance of her vulnerability as a woman. I care about you. Christine for her part accuses Mary Beth of ‘mothering’ her. Events are described in terms of the injury sustained by them. I care about what happens to you.’ Mary Beth: ‘No.

the son defends the mother. it is a moment not only of dramatic but of sexual intensity. reckless. This foregrounding of the moment where physical contact is attempted but thwarted only serves to extend the possibility of constructing a lesbian subtext. and she does not tackle her father with very much conviction. he falls and hits his head on a low table. I like to have a few nips of whiskey. Turn.’ Later.’ says Brian.38 CAGNEY AND LACEY Wish that didn’t scare you so much. physically she’s moving into intimacy—which opens up a space for the lesbian reader. She enjoys considerable acclaim. alcoholic: the result is a foregone conclusion. whilst the daughter takes the father’s side: ‘I hated the way he talked to her. one night at home after a heavy drinking bout. ‘Turn’. families and houses are difficult places for her to be in. she refuses. Christine is now having to cope with the demands that her father. replies Christine. The rescue of the baby has set in train the search for a real mother. It is precisely the ambiguity of Mary Beth’s message—verbally she reprimands Christine’s deviant behaviour. deviant. which comes to a head with his death. she will leave her brother’s family in California earlier than planned. ‘Turn. heterosexual wife and mother versus Christine. their positions are polarized to a point where sides must be taken. in which Lacey rescues a baby from a burning car is another opportunity for us to see her as the caring woman. The dramatic opening of ‘Turn. the admiration of her male colleagues and her family for this brave action. she suggests to Charlie that he visit Alcoholics Anonymous. Cagney’s attempts to revive him fail and he is dead on arrival at hospital. Christine’s problematic identification with her father. Lacey accuses her of betrayal. the spectator is suspended in almost unbearable animation. Several false mothers put themselves forward but Mary Beth (a true mother) is not fooled. their friendship but. to acknowledge that if he had been sober he could probably have saved himself. . Their differences. is making on her. Later. finally errupt into a moral conflict that cannot be negotiated. Here. Turn. The next two episodes. Christine goes to stay with Mary Beth but leaves in the middle of the night: 1 can’t stay.’ She moves as if to touch Christine on the shoulder but then drops her hand. more crucially. As the frame freezes. There is an underlying suggestion implicit in her increased dependence on alcohol that the therapy Christine requires goes beyond that offered by the police psychological services. herself as a woman. she will be required to break her identification with men (especially Charlie) and to find herself as a woman. Mary Beth. and her ambivalence towards her family are both explored in the funeral episode. Christine is provoked into an angry outburst in the precinct at the sight of these ‘mothers’ and their evident need for children. These final moments of broken looks and gestures are excruciating in their intensity and suggestiveness. Christine finds mothers hard to tolerate. homes. this is Lacey’s project and she pursues it keenly. stable. Following Charlie’s death. as elaborated above. Charlie. Mary Beth’s rescue of the baby from the burning car earns her the taunt ‘Mother of the decade’ from her partner. but is rejected: ‘I’m Irish. When her brother Brian arrives for Charlie’s funeral it becomes clear that his view of their family life differs sharply from Christine’s. The inherent ambiguity of Cagney’s position in gender terms. Prompted by Lieutenant Samuels.’ The question of his drinking is a sensitive one for she is a heavy drinker too. she has betrayed their partnership. Turn’ (Parts 1 and 2) which were shown in the UK as a double-bill are similarly concerned with Mary Beth’s wholeness as a woman and a mother and with Christine’s continued disintegration. Christine’s refusal to acknowledge the emotional side of herself and her (womanly) vulnerability is the path to self-destruction. As it is. is for a moment clearly foregrounded. as never before. despite the evidence. By contrast. lines drawn. ‘She always started it’. contained for so long. I’m sorry.

he was drunk. ‘I don’t know what to do any more. ‘A member of our force is down. Christine is drinking her way to ruin. So we return via an emotional morass of families. Mary Beth proves herself able to give. who finally brings Christine ‘back to the fold’. provides. Similarly. the first item she retrieves from his flat is his police uniform. As such. Mary Beth can cross over the divide between family and work. ‘Can’t tell me she’s not cracking up a little. While such a repressive resolution was never in doubt.’ Much is made of the burial and wake as a police ritual. She is absent from the party Mary Beth throws to celebrate her promotion. fathers.’ she cries. at the ideological level. it is nevertheless a disappointment for those of us who dared fantasize another kind of ending. brothers and boyfriends to the central motor of the narrative. Mary Beth is the agent of patriarchy who drags Christine back to the straight and narrow.FEMINIST REVIEW 39 With Charlie’s death and funeral come again strong reminders of his life as a cop and the importance this has for Christine. Christine drinks too much and has difficulty sustaining relationships. as transgressor of social order and gender boundaries. the rescued baby’s real mother. in ways that are beyond her partner. despite Christine’s earlier absence from the party celebrations.’ ‘Charlie killed himself. as a woman. this bar. namely the relationship between the two women. ‘a real cop’s cop’. Christine. melodramatic confirmation of the importance of the family unit. Having tried and failed to resuscitate him. Christine phones for an ambulance. Lacey claims. as was suggested in the first interview with the therapist. All Cagney’s male colleagues from the precinct attend the funeral and the wake. replies Mary Beth. ‘My name is Christine. With Lacey at her side. too. It is once again Mary Beth’s intimacy that disarms Christine. which she clutches to herself throughout her conversation with Brian. Whilst Mary Beth is receiving an award for bravery and later the long-awaited promotion. At the end of the confrontation that follows. This ‘father’ has a double power. So are you’. then. ‘I don’t need a mother. the series destroyed .’ Women who transgress against the heteropatriarchal order are punished. ‘All I wanted to do was grow up and be a cop like my daddy. of course. However. is to acknowledge her real womanly identity and her vulnerability. the recuperation of the free woman by the forces of law and order.’ says Isbecki. however fleetingly. is an extension of the precinct. David. she stands and announces to fellow sufferers. Christine is violent and drunk. emotionally. Christine. the ex-lover. Life without Charlie is a sore test for Christine. I don’t know what to do. the cop’s bar. no more breaking the rules. Her ex-lover David watches from the sidelines. not least the pleasure of female protagonist as hero. and of Mary Beth’s ability to integrate her roles at work and at home. is at the point of exhaustion when Mary Beth arrives. Nothing ever makes you feel all right. The rescuing of Christine Cagney by her female buddy Mary Beth Lacey represents. It is within the confines of the Lacey universe that Cagney realizes she must reside. the series offers a number of pleasures along the way. Christine has saved herself with the help of her friend Mary Beth but we have tried to show that there is a sense in which she has lost her power.’ says Christine the following morning. ‘He didn’t just fall. a positive image of female deviation. When it matters. ‘Nothing ever fills you up. Christine says. Cagney is the character who drives the narrative forward and it is with the resolution of her disequilibrium that the plot is primarily concerned. It is Mary Beth. The decision she makes to stay with Christine and care for her rather than to return to Harvey and the children is an important one. ironically. He loved me no matter what. she feels Christine to be part of her family and.’ What she must do. We may identify with her as the central character who. Charlie was their colleague too. Like her father.’ ‘Charlie did. I am an alcoholic. the parents are reunited with their child and they present themselves to Lacey in final. Your father was a drunk. Christine is finally defeated. In breaking Cagney. in which this is her demise as an independent and freewheeling woman. a late arrival turns out to be not Christine but.

she is desirable because of the reckless and cavalier fashion with which she drives the narrative to the boundaries of the permissible. Jocelyn Robson lectures at Thames Polytechnic and is specifically concerned with training Media Studies teachers for Further and Higher Education. KAPLAN. to read the relationship between Cagney and Lacey as structured upon desire. and MARSHMENT. . She has taught the Open University module ‘Representations of Women in Film’ and is currently working on materials for media education. L. She has published articles on cinema in Spare Rib and is currently working on women and science fiction. so that against all the odds. Notes Beverley Alcock lectures in Film Studies at City and East London College and teaches the Introduction to Cinema course at the British Film Institute. L. nos. The Female Gaze.Framework. L. (1988) ‘Watching the detectives: the enigma of the female gaze’. L. Screen. we are able to read those moments of intense emotional conflict as positively erotic. (1988) editors. London: The Women’s Press.E. (1975) ‘Visual pleasure and narrative cinema’. 16. London: BFI. 3. M. in GAMMAN and MARSHMENT (1988). In textual terms. GAMMAN. References GAMMAN. MULVEY. as we hope we have demonstrated. (1981) ‘Afterthoughts on “Visual pleasure and narrative cinema” inspired by Duel in the Sun’. Cagney is designated ‘deviant’ precisely because of her lack of a fixed position. 15/16/17. It is also possible. Women in Film Noir. The character of Cagney may also be seen to exist as the active site of female desire.40 CAGNEY AND LACEY itself-the final series was a disaster—with the character of Cagney subjected to rape and a prolonged courtship. vol. pp. Ann (1980) editor. no. 6–18. MULVEY.


preference for women over men’ (Newton. the sexologist whose work was most influential in Britain at the time. age. unlike those of most lesbians. and Alison Hennegan suggests that: ‘It is almost impossible now to determine whether the “men of science” created theories which inverts then tried to fit or whether inverts revealed to the scientists theories which they themselves formulated. ‘womanly women’. For centuries women who desired women had been puzzling over their place within a ‘heterosexual’ society. Both women defined themselves as ‘inverts’. simultaneously. It is. most famous for her overtly lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness. The communication of identity through dress. important not to oversimplify the situation and accuse women like Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge of passively accepting the definitions thrust upon them by hostile sexologists. They have been chosen not because they are in any way representative but because their lives. and her lover Una Troubridge. 1982: x) For some women. …the components of identity are endless. and they accepted and supported the theories of Havelock Ellis. and a passive ‘pseudo invert’. 1984:567). ‘Congenital inverts’ were ‘inter-sex’ and possessed ‘some approximation to the masculine attitude and temperament’ (Ellis. such as Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge. Certainly it was a two-way traffic. ‘Pseudo inverts’ were. however. can be a vital resource. I have chosen to concentrate on only two. for others the questions remained. like its expression. as the recently published diaries of Anne Lister demonstrate. Feminist Review No 35. class. the most popular contemporary term for a homosexual. It can allow instant recognition in an alien environment and can be a way of fighting back and announcing one’s existence to every passer-by. Una. have been substantially and accessibly documented. the sexologists provided an answer and an identity. occupation. Rather than attempt to consider a number of women briefly. For years. …seem to possess a genuine. ‘the pick of the women whom the average man would pass by. though not precisely sexual. According to Ellis. 1941:199). the lesbian couple comprised an active ‘congenital invert’. consciously or unconsciously. [who] so far as they may be said to constitute a class.CUTTING A DASH: The Dress of Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge Katrina Rolley Dress has long been accepted as a medium of both expression and communication. the author Radclyffe Hall. and remain. explaining the seemingly impossible desire of two ‘passive’ women for each other by recreating the ‘heterosexual’ active/ passive dichotomy within the lesbian relationship. in this case Radclyffe Hall. unanswered. sex.’ (Hall. and it was a fascination with the styles of self-presentation evolved by past lesbians that provided the initial stimulus for this article. is of particular significance for lesbians. on the other hand.1 Clothing. a silent language through which. we ‘speak’ our race. Such an analysis served to separate ‘lesbians’ from ‘real women’ whilst. ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ found expression through dress. with its ability to speak without the commitment of words. Summer 1990 .

it also meant that for viewers who were unaware of their sexuality. to an informed viewer. The dress and appearance of each woman is clearly gendered. their respective roles within a lesbian relationship. on occasions. they continued to observe the conventions of class. All these aspects of their lives need to be considered if some sense is to be made of the styles of self-presentation they developed. whilst Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge might be willing to disregard gender conventions in their dress. by Gladys Hynes demonstrates [plate 1]. 1985:202). as are the influences on our dress and appearance. the other placed delicately on her hip. earrings and two or three strings of pearls round her neck…she looked beautiful. who attended a party in the mid-1930s at which the couple were present. All these attributes traditionally signify aristocratic birth. as the 1937 painting. Radclyffe Hall inherited a substantial private income. who worked for Radclyffe Hall’s literary agent during the publication of The Well of Loneliness. Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge dressed not just as lesbians. experiences and personalities. . have overshadowed other implications. is quoted by Richard Ormrod as saying: I can remember exactly what they were wearing… Radclyffe Hall wore a beautifully cut man’s dinner jacket and skirt. An impression of aristocratic individuality could be reinforced by the stylish and expensive clothes both women wore. and her more ‘feminine’ dress and pose serve to complement and highlight the ‘masculinity’ of her partner. especially those distanced by class. Even Patience Ross. Everybody’s eyes were riveted on her. squarely facing us. still believed the couple to be ‘platonic friends who had a mission to help “those poor people” ’ (Baker. 1984:195). the components of identity are endless. a cigarette in one hand. They cut a tremendous dash as a pair. Both Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge were born into upper-class families during the later nineteenth century and. her well-proportioned figure and ‘quite beautiful’ hands and feet (Troubridge. It was an evening dress in cream coloured soft satin. Radclyffe Hall’s wealth and independence later allowed her and Una Troubridge to disregard public opinion and appear together in clothes which announced. the ‘unusually pure oval’ of her face. Una stands beside her. noble expression’. (Ormrod. and establishing Radclyffe Hall’s inherent nobility was one way of repudiating the long-established view of homosexuality as a morbid or degenerative condition. a stiff shirt and bow tie…. Radclyffe Hall stands at the centre of the painting. they ‘always dressed for dinner’ (quoted in Ormrod. Whilst the couple’s wealth and class freed them from the constraints of public opinion. almost over-dressed. hands in pockets and cigarette in mouth. and the resultant glamour may.FEMINIST REVIEW 43 As previously suggested. especially since Radclyffe Hall was also a writer. Class also plays an important part in Una’s description of her lover in The Life and Death of Radclyffe Hall. 1984:247) As this last quotation suggests. feet apart. She wears a feminized version of a man’s suit. and looked like a bride. Lady Troubridge wore the most glorious dress. at the age of twenty-one. Mrs James. and Hynes has ironically contrasted her with the effeminate young man on the right and the sculpture of a naked woman directly above her. This income allowed her to live independently from her family and to discard the ‘feminine’ clothes chosen by her mother in favour of tailor-made styles. with their ‘curiously fierce. their appearance might be (mis)read as part of the aristocratic tradition of eccentricity. She wore only pearls. They were affected by the fashionable/acceptable female dress of their lifetimes and by contemporary attitudes towards their gender and sexuality. but as women with particular backgrounds. 1961:45). ‘Private View’. Her high-heeled shoes are in direct contrast to Radclyffe Hall’s low-heeled lace-ups. She emphasizes Radclyffe Hall’s clear complexion and beautifully set eyes. As another contemporary remembers.

a far shorter and more ‘masculine’ style than Una would ever wear. this description of Radclyffe Hall from the Newcastle Daily Journal of 1928. and indeed fashionable. however. For her. their styles of dress became increasingly polarized along ‘masculine’/‘feminine’ lines. together with her severe style of dress. clearly established by subtle sartorial indicators: her hat. for women. meant that many people perceived Radclyffe Hall as ultra-modern during the 1920s. Radclyffe Hall. were an accepted part of women’s fashion from the late nineteenth century. indicating a gradual acceptance of trousers as a part of women’s dress for a few. and convinced of. for example. a gentleman’s evening dress suit. Women’s dress altered decisively during the first few decades of the twentieth century. is obviously vital to an interpretation of lesbian’ styles. but by no means fashionable [see plate 1]. although there are some private photographs of her wearing them during the 1930s. but these developments affected each woman differently. as previously mentioned. Una. in 1923. occasions. may frequently be seen at the West End theatres dressed in what is. Radclyffe Hall. as the ‘passive’. a more traditionally ‘feminine’ look returned.44 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS An understanding of contemporary fashionable and acceptable dress. Three years later. and probably also as a rebellion against her husband— actually wore hers short some years earlier. cravat and pin and the severer cut of her skirt. however. Una appears to have worn trousers even more rarely than her lover. As in a heterosexual relationship. Radclyffe Hall’s ‘masculine’ role within the relationship is. Radclyffe Hall’s Eton crop was some years in advance of that style becoming generally fashionable for women and this. During the early years of their relationship -presumably to assert her new sexual identity—Una also adopted a tailor-made style of dress. both women wear breeches to Crufts [plate 3]. save for the tight skirt. she was still defined largely by her . Radclyffe Hall continued to wear clothes which were now acceptable. as is clearly visible in Radclyffe Hall’s and Una Troubridge’s changing styles of self-presentation. once short hair was established as acceptable for women Radclyffe Hall always wore hers close-cropped. and looks the strong and silent woman to the life. as photographs from around 1915 testify. Consider. The period following World War I saw short hair becoming acceptable. with white waistcoat complete. if at all. always had a preference for simple. ‘feminine’ partner. Radclyffe Hall waited until 1920 before she had her long hair cut. however. and compare it with a caricature of her which appeared in 1926 [plate 5]. tailor-made clothes which. and as the two women become more involved with. Trousers were not. her whole aura is high-brow modernism. she must often have appeared ultra-fashionable. Radclyffe Hall adopted an even more severely ‘masculine’ cut. Similarly. She wears her Titian hair in close Eton crop. when longer hair came into vogue at the end of the decade. (Newcastle Daily Journal: 22/8/28) Radclyffe Hall’s modernity resulted from her need to express her sexual identity through ‘masculine’ dress and appearance. generally accepted as women’s wear until the 1940s or 1950s and Radclyffe Hall never wore them as formal dress. and a Punch cartoon of the same date [plate 6]. was very differently placed in relation to fashionable dress. During the 1920s this contributed to her ultra-modern appearance but. but she then chose to have it ‘Eton cropped’ [see plate 4]. very specific. every change in fashion which allowed women to wear clothes formerly designated ‘male’ was of importance and. and in plate 2 the two women emphasize their partnership by wearing very similar clothes. the paper says. since a process of ‘masculinization’ characterized women’s dress during the 1920s. Ellis’s theories about inversion. Una—as an ‘artistic’ sculptor and singer. although they derived from ‘masculine’ styles. When. as the mean against which any deviation is measured. With her notably fine forehead and beautiful hands.

.FEMINIST REVIEW 45 Plate 1 Private View by Gladys Hynes. relationship with her ‘masculine’ lover—a role not incompatible with ‘feminine’ dress—and during the 1930s her clothes and hair developed along fashionable lines [see plate 1). 1937.

not least because Radclyffe Hall and Una minimized it in their own testimonies to their relationship and their sexuality. leaving her. with reference to the butch/ femme roles of the 1950s: ‘We labelled ourselves as part of our cultural ritual. 1988:103) This complexity and exchange is difficult to determine in retrospect. Radclyffe Hall— with her ‘active’ desire for other women and her need to compete with men for her lovers—was defined. After Radclyffe Hall’s death in 1943 Una began to wear her lover’s clothes. important not to oversimplify this. whereas Una—who was still ‘passively’ responding to ‘masculine’ desire. was defined in relation to the ‘congenital inversion’ of Radclyffe Hall. apart from her she risked invisibility. stopped wearing make-up. and defined herself. As Joan Nestle explains. but the words which seem so one dimensional now stood for complex sexual and emotional exchanges. therefore. 1920. Radclyffe Hall and Una. and the language reflected our time in history. in the more ambiguous role of ‘feminine’ or ‘pseudo invert’. expressed Una’s sexuality when viewed in relation to Radclyffe Hall. It is. Whilst ‘feminine’ dress. had married and was. as ‘active’ and ‘passive inverts’ respectively. as closer to masculinity than femininity. as they were in relation to fashionable dress. were as differently placed in relation to social definitions of gender. and adopted male dress to . however. therefore. but this does not explain why she had her hair cut short. albeit housed in the body of a woman— remained closer to femininity. These gendered roles were reinforced by the fact that Radclyffe Hall had defined herself lesbian from an early age and could afford to live without marrying. moving from one ‘masculine’ partner to another when she left Rear Admiral Troubridge to live with Radclyffe Hall. Ranelagh. This could be explained by Una’s extreme grief and her desire to feel close even after death. of necessity. but it is essential to recognize its existence.’ (Nestle.46 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS Plate 2 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge at the Ladies’ Kennel Club Dog Show. on the other hand. Una’s sexuality. Una. as mentioned previously.

1961:20) and was renamed Peter from a very young age. and Una’s dress here is very similar to that worn by Radclyffe Hall in a photograph published in The Bookman in 1927 [plate 4]. As previously mentioned.FEMINIST REVIEW 47 Plate 3 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge at Crufts. necessitating the ‘masculine’ partner. Una writes. The ‘congenital invert’ was distinguished by a mind and body which ‘approximated to the masculine’ and Radclyffe Hall. both devout Catholics—it absolved the ‘lesbian’. with her ‘muscular shoulders. therefore. important that the couple prove themselves genuine ‘inverts’. in 1924. is an embodiment of the ‘congenital invert’. Radclyffe Hall and Una accepted the theories of the sexologists to the point where the heroine of The Well of Loneliness. according to Sybille Bedford. by the artist Romaine Brooks. It was. 1982:187). compliance with the definition of ‘congenital’. the label of ‘invert’ offered women an identity. a victim of nature. 1923. mistaken for a man. although neither claim is born out by Michael Baker’s research. Radclyffe Hall’s. This seems to confirm the suggestion that when she was to appear independently of her partner. and [the] slender flanks of an athlete’ (Hall. on occasions. the point where she was. Una had previously adopted uncharacteristically ‘male’ dress for her portrait. like many other lesbians. By the end of her life. Una needed to adopt the dress of the ‘masculine’ invert to ensure recognition of her sexuality. in The Life and Death of Radelyffe Hall. from the accusation of perversion.…small compact breasts. It also suggests that Radclyffe Hall’s death freed Una from her supporting role and allowed her to take on that of ‘congenital invert’ in her own right. Radclyffe Hall privately believed ‘that inversion could be detected in a baby’s . a sexuality and—very importantly for Radclyffe Hall and Una. was known by a masculine name in private—in this case ‘John’ and only ever used her surname in public life. that her lover was mistaken for a boy ‘throughout her infancy’ (Troubridge. and Havelock Ellis was asked to write the book’s foreword. something which would have been impossible during Hall’s lifetime. as opposed to sexual degenerates.

and she establishes dress as one way of ‘declaring’ oneself when she criticizes a former friend. ‘Youpie’ Lowther. 1984:91)2. suggests that Radclyffe Hall’s facial features actually became more ‘masculine’ with age. as inherently ‘masculine’. 1985:248). say. In her ‘Day Book’ for 1931 Una condemns ‘the cowardice of those [inverts] who refuse to declare themselves’ (Baker. and old age rarely enhances femininity as it can do masculinity. author of Una Troubridge. The Friend of Radclyffe Hall. to the point where Richard Ormrod. When dress and appearance were such vital indicators of gender that a woman could pass as a man simply by adopting male dress. Clothes can be vital in accentuating or minimizing physical attributes. he says. physical characteristics—in. There is. have been perceived. May 1927. 1985:268). eventually. Radclyffe Hall and Una clearly used dress and appearance to express and communicate their lesbian identities. all that has altered are the sitter’s clothes and her age. for attempting to conceal her ‘congenital inversion’ by wearing ‘scarlet silk “confections” in the evenings. the width of shoulders or the thickness of an arm’ (Baker. The faces actually look remarkably similar.’ (Baker. than in the photograph of 1938…showing the rather more subdued French beret [and] the heavier. a belief which explains why she later had a portrait of herself as a child repainted to make it appear more boyish. and come to perceive herself. 1985:247) However whilst Radclyffe Hall and . ‘much more facial femininity in the 1928 photograph showing the flamboyant Spanish hat and the pearl earrings. more masculine features’ (Ormrod.48 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS Plate 4 Photograph of Radclyffe Hall published in The Bookman. a woman who constantly wore ‘masculine’ clothes must.

In a period of fashionable androgyny. It remains. Naomi Jacob still felt able to include two strikingly ‘masculine’ photographs of herself and her lover. however. either her or her publishers feeling that it compromised her reputation. In 1937. the Daily Mail wanted to emphasize Radclyffe Hall’s ‘femininity’. in contrast.FEMINIST REVIEW 49 Plate 5 Radclyffe Hall caricatured in T. impossible to surmise just how many people would have understood the message inherent in the Sunday Express photograph. Una’s styles of dress must have been easily read by other ‘inverts’. When. it chose an image which could combine with the text to reinforce the message of ‘modern’ but still ‘feminine’. it must have expected it’s audience to surmise Radclyffe Hall’s sexuality from the particularly ‘masculine’ photograph of her chosen to illustrate the piece [plate 7]. as previously mentioned.P. The sympathetic Daily Herald printed. Patience Ross. was familiar with both the theme and the author of The Well of Loneliness and yet did not connect the two. signifiers of gender such as earrings become extremely important. nearly ten years after the book’s trial had supposedly familiarized everyone with the existence and nature of lesbianism. in a 1927 article on ‘How other women run their homes’ [plate 9]. a photograph which— because of Radclyffe Hall’s hat and pearl earrings presented a more ‘feminine’ image [plate 8]. Sadie Robinson [Plates 10 and 11]. After all. how likely were they to communicate similar meanings to a more general audience? When the Sunday Express denounced The Well of Loneliness as ‘a seductive and insidious piece of special pleading’. 1926. therefore. 19/8/28). Or was it rather that appearing ‘as herself’ was so important to Naomi Jacob that the inclusion of these photographs was worth whatever risk it might have entailed? . in her autobiographical book Me—Again without. presumably. and attacked ‘the decadent apostles of the most hideous and loathsome of vices’ who ‘take delight in their flamboyant notoriety’ (Sunday Express.’s Weekly.

If you can help.50 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS Plate 6 Cartoon from Punch. who remember the years before World War II. Naked. 1926. stripped of her ‘masculine’ guise. a sexuality and an identity. but as a woman. This article is drawn from the early stages of a more extensive research project which aims to consider in detail the dress of lesbians in Britain between 1901 and 1939. or their friends. Dress allowed women like Radclyffe Hall and Naomi Jacob to create certainty out of confusion. Defining themselves ‘invert’ gave women who ‘weren’t women’ a gender. and the joint author of a forthcoming book on dress between 1900 and 1920. and dress allowed them to triumph over their female bodies and express and communicate this identity. 1984:192). please write care of Feminist Review. was it necessarily any more compromised than that of ‘woman’? Notes Katrina Rolley is the author of an article entitled ‘Fashion. . and whilst the role of ‘invert’ may have been a compromised one. Richard Ormrod records that whilst Una Troubridge and several female friends were happy to bath naked when on holiday in France. The author is particularly keen to make contact with lesbians. Radclyffe Hall did not join them (Ormrod. femininity and the fight for the vote’ in the March 1990 issue of Art History. Radelyffe Hall was revealed not as a ‘congenital invert’. a member of the third sex.

London: William Heinemann (Medical Books) Ltd. References BAKER. . Signs. ELLlS. Una (1961) The Life and Death of Radclyffe Hall. 9. Its use here should be understood as a shorthand. The Friend of Radclyffe Hall. vol. London: Jonathan Cape. It is a category that has not been socially recognized in all periods and even when a similar category was recognized. Michael (1985) Our Three Selves. 21/8/28. HALL. London: Virago (first published 1928). ORMROD. NEWTON. NESTLE. 557–75). no. London: Hamish Hamilton. TROUBRIDGE. 48. 1 There are problems in using the term ‘lesbian’ in a historical context. 4. different words with different implications have been used. Radclyffe (1982) The Well of Loneliness. Richard (1984) Una Troubridge. Esther (1984) The mythic mannish lesbian: Radclyffe Hall and the New Woman’. NEWCASTLE DAILY JOURNAL (22/8/28) ‘London letter’. 33 and opposite p. (pp.FEMINIST REVIEW 51 Plate 8 The Daily Herald. 2 The two pictures are in Troubridge (1961) opposite p. ‘Novel Sent to “Jix” For Judgement’. Hammond. Introduction by Alison Hennegan. Havelock (1941) Psychology of Sex. SUNDAY EXPRESS (19/8/28) ‘A book that must be suppressed’. London: Sheba. Joan (1988) A Restricted Country. London: Hammond.

(Plate 1). The National Portrait Gallery (Plate 4). Ltd. The British Library (Plates 5. Punch (Plate 6).52 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS Plate 7 The Sunday Express. 19/8/28. 8 and 9). Acknowledgements The following are thanked for the use of illustrations: Michael Parkin Fine Art Ltd. (Plates 2 and 3). Hulton Picture Co. ‘A Book That Must Be Suppressed’. 7. .

‘How Other Women Run Their Homes’. . 11/5/27.FEMINIST REVIEW 53 Plate9 The Daily Mail.

54 DRESS BETWEEN THE WARS Plate 10 Photograph of Naomi Jacob published as the frontispiece to MeAgain by Naomi Jacob. . 1937.

1937. .FEMINIST REVIEW 55 Plate 11 Photograph of Sadie Robinson published in Me—Again by Naomi Jacob.

but have also made us aware of the extent to which we create individual identities by putting together our own self-representations. Feminist Review No 35. their very humanity. lipstick and dècolletage—items they would not have even thought of wearing in the seventies. crumpled figures in photographs of concentration camps. our choice of clothes and our use (or not) of cosmetics we create an ‘appearance’ for public and private consumption. discuss their convergence in the 1960s and since. No such distinction between artifice and nature. advertising and other branches of the popular media in constructing women—or femininity—culturally. ‘Come Dancing’ at which women once seen in boots. can long be maintained. Even a baby is tagged and assigned an outfit which grants its gendered entry to the human race immediately it is born. and suggest ways in which specifically lesbian styles may challenge what are still ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions for some feminists. It is really only the mad. In this article I want to do three things: relate the fashions of the lesbian subculture to mainstream fashion. Summer 1990 . For everyone. Feminists and fashion It has long been a standard figure of speech to refer to the way in which individuals of both sexes take a ‘pride in their appearance’. at least to heterosexual feminists. denim and leather appeared in frocks. Clothes play a key part in our acts of self-presentation. so taken for granted as a part of the vocabulary of grooming and fashion. that have abandoned or been forced to abandon the attempt and with it. The feminist debates of the eighties have placed representation at the core of feminist concerns. Many feminists do assume that there is a ‘real self beneath the artifice of fashion and that the feminist’s duty is simply to allow this ‘real self to ‘come out’. culture enjoins that we construct an ‘appearance’ of some kind. Now. an image whose relationship with some implied ‘reality’ beneath it is not so straightforward as it might seem. The dyke event of the year in London in the winter of 1986/7 was a glamour ball. everything’s changed. there has never been a culture without adornment. indeed. high heels. without some modification of the raw material of the body. actually acknowledges the performance element in dress.DEVIANT DRESS Elizabeth Wilson In the late 1980s it has increasingly seemed that lesbians experience a freedom and a pleasure in dress that is denied. The word ‘appearance’. or those naked. whether we like it—or recognize it—or not. if not to heterosexual women in general. These debates have included not only the role of poraography. In our hairstyles. preferably consistent with our social role. in a horrible way. Tickets were like gold dust. however. The Western stereotype of the ‘naked savage’ was always a myth.

but they do change. to appear at length in the high street and the down-market mail-order catalogues. when it is a challenge to the very notion of a ‘natural’ sexuality neatly matched to biological sex? Many women (and men) assume that what is meant by ‘fashion’ is haute couture. it is disseminated through every level of reproduction and expense. I would feel impelled to stress as strongly as possible that clothing is a necessary condition of subjectivity—that in articulating the body. 145. How. 1988). it simultaneously articulates the psyche. too. and it is also a myth that women are uniformly oppressed by a totalitarian dictatorship of fashion. 147) The representation of gender has been an especially important feature of Western dress since the eighteenth century (see Wilson. Soon. at least in France. and many were the Punch caricatures of this unlovely creature. (Silverman. Indeed. The ‘mannish woman’ was a phobia of bourgeois Victorian society. Upper-class lesbians. In the nineteenth century. This then becomes a second reason for radicals to reject it. woman lover of the . and articulates it as a meaningful form… Even if my sympathies were not fully on the side of extravagant sartorial display. has no visual status apart from dress and/or adornment… Clothing and other kinds of ornamentation make the human body culturally visible…clothing draws the body so that it can be culturally seen. rapid change and innovation. in the eyes of society at the time. men are increasingly being included in fashion. The dress of men as well as women in the West is determined by fashion. cosmetics. any rejection by a woman of traditional feminine attire was apt to attract ridieule. By the early twentieth century male dress for women was clearly associated. All Western dress is fashionable in the sense that it is ‘in fashion’—it operates in terms of style cycles. and by the end of the nineteenth century flamboyant clothing for men was coded as irredeemably effeminate. just as it is ‘natural’ for them to be less aggressive than boys. femininity is more obviously a ‘masquerade’ than ever: Madonna sleaze (denim skirts with lace frills. Under the influence of Beau Brummell and other dandies around 1800. 1986: pp. and this was true in the West as well. high heels and brightly coloured silks and satins. Oscar Wilde’s interest in dress reform and aesthetic dress was. such as ‘Missy’. ‘fifties’ lipstick in deepest crimson) creates a different appearance from the Marilyn Monroe image of the 1950s. Henceforth. though. manliness itself came to be associated with sober dress. can the lesbian or gay male gender by naturalized. Yet although ‘high fashion’ is generated to a large extent through the work of haute couture designers.DEVIANT DRESS 57 Clothing naturalizes gender in the sense that we feel that it is ‘natural’ for girls to wear pink. The feminist belief that a right-on woman can somehow escape fashion altogether is therefore a myth. Gender differences are part of bodily representations in all cultures. like the female subject. not the least unsavoury aspect of his reputation as it deteriorated in the 1890s from the merely provocative to the absolutely sinister (see Ellman. Male dress is still more conservative than women’s dress and styles change much more slowly. sobriety of style was the hallmark of the elegant man. although the ‘average man in the street’ (if such a person exists) might never think of himself as a fashion peacock. As Kaja Silverman has expressed it: The male subject. and associated with homosexuality. that is the original highcost creations designed in Paris. The fashionable body of today for both sexes is also increasingly a masculine body: muscle vests for both sexes reveal actual muscles. with lesbianism. Tokyo and Milan for at most a few thousand women world-wide. put there by weight training. but what was particularly marked in Western dress since the late eighteenth century was an intensification of masculinity in the styles that men wore. men gave up powdered hair. In this context. 1985). heavy.

built-up shoulders and pinched-in waists in 1938. Thirdly. they provided a glamorously modified military look. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the development of sports and casual wear—largely for the leisured and the élite of Europe and the United States in the 1930s. shortages and restrictions dictated that skirts were skimpy. therefore. 1974) Wartime fashions. (Hulanicki. 1985. Before the war. Lesbians and fashion When we come to butch and femme modes of dress in the 1950s. butch and femme appears to have been a working-class rather than an upper-middle-class way of life in the 1950s and early 1960s. but in the 1950s for the young. it witnessed the Second World War. (French women bicyclists. in order to look truly different. wore trousers only on informal occasions—as did daring heterosexual society women. Her style in turn influenced Barbara Hulanicki. the ideology of the ‘third sex’ seems to fade. more frequently than English women. at least. In spite of the exaggerated femininity of the New Look and then of film stars such as Monroe. in 1969 they were permitted in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. a look that was popularized in several Hollywood films which starred Audrey Hepburn. masculine garb was a clear indication in a woman of a preference for her own sex. westerns. In the United States the uniforms of the armed forces were designed specifically to appeal to women and to give a smart appearance. (See Wilson. Yet mainstream fashion was also extremely boyish—the ‘garçonne’ look was one of the major fashions of the twenties. Wilson and Taylor. Paris had turned away from the narrow. the big shoulders and tighter waists were equally compatible with the military look of the war years. even the most masculine lesbians. Before the outbreak of war in 1939. combined an echo of pre-war Paris with militarism and austerity to produce a style that was slightly masculine yet also. American styles—jeans. The evolution of fashion in the war years was not divorced from the social upheaval taking place. creator of the important Biba shops in the sixties: Sabrina Fair [an Audrey Hepburn film] had made a huge impact on us all at college: everyone walked around in black sloppy sweaters. which was to burst upon the world in 1947. which apparently forbade this. wore ‘drag’ as a badge of sexual identity. we are therefore not confronting exactly the same phenomenon as Radclyffe Hall in the twenties and thirties.) By the Radclyffe Hall period of the 1920s. 61) . Secondly. such as Radclyffe Hall. In the first place. His little black dress with shoestring straps in Sabrina Fair must have been imprinted on many teenagers’ minds forever. Benstock 1987). (Squier. Mainstream fashion certainly continuously changes its own definitions of masculinity and femininity and plays with gender all the time. 1984. The resulting casual look traded on a’gamine’ rather than an exaggeratedly feminine appearance. rock’n’roll —were important. and Ewing. mainstream fashion styles were more various and relaxed and. it was in the 1950s that youth and the youth market began to be taken seriously. Although this prefigured Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’. 1989. suede low-cut flatties and gold hoop earrings… Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy [her Paris designer] were made for each other. at its best. both sexy and elegant. of all classes. by the fifties ‘slacks’ were widely worn. when women joined the armed forces. In the United States and Britain. This must inevitably influence the way in which lesbians and male homosexuals can and will represent themselves and inscribe their deviant sexual identity on their bodies. on the other hand. wore ‘rational dress’— breeches—for cycling. sinuous styles of the thirties and was introducing wide. sloping-shouldered. were able to enjoy wearing uniform. for example. 1983:54. so was the Paris Left Bank.58 FEMINIST REVIEW writer Colette. despite the rigours of the law. a lesbian had to go to greater lengths to distance herself from them. and in many cases lived in female communities.

a gay identity. To me at the time. 1988:1) By the early sixties. when I started to frequent the Gateways lesbian club in Chelsea. who came from the bohemian ‘Chelsea Set’ of the fifties. built her style around the beatnik look of black stockings. (Whether this was also the case in the United States or Europe I do not know). Or that is how it seemed. even straight men were looking androgynous. For me. in The Beautiful Room is Empty the way. For this reason. 1974). at that time. and the official discourse concerning homosexuality was gradually moving it away from its connotations of criminality and betrayal towards concepts of neurosis and therapy. they expressed allegiances and social attitudes. these new alternative styles had nothing to do with ‘the natural’ or with comfort.DEVIANT DRESS 59 These fashions were not just about youth. the expansion of bohemianism (and its marketing via films and other media) and the development of working-class youth styles signifying rebellion contributed to a different view of dress and adornment. leftwing radicalism and homosexuality seemed naturally and inevitably connected. The androgyny of the early and mid sixties was a youthfully boyish look for both sexes. so that bohemianism. Edmund White has captured. androgyny was a highly sexualized mode of self-representation in the sixties. Lesbian and gay subcultures could not but be influenced by this strange atmosphere of rebellion in the midst of cold war. coexisted. Is it the hard defiance in her eyes or just the slicked-back hair with its suggestion of the high-school bad girl that lends her this dangerous aura? (White. By 1964. and/or went about in couples as a ‘man’ and a woman. What was changing was mainstream fashion itself. although her eyebrows have been slightly plucked. promising not to marry a divorce. however. two of the then aspiring writers we knew maintained strictly butch roles in their relationships even if they dressed in the casual leather-jacketand-jeans style that seemed the height of chic. the bohemian and the traditional butch/femme. Things were simpler. In the repressed atmosphere of those times Princess Margaret broadcast to the nation. journalists and artists whom my lover and I got to know. In London Mary Quant. Even the ‘boyish’ women’s styles of the 1920s were not associated with ordinary working-class women. whether intentionally or not. undermined the way in which early twentieth-century fashion in Britain expressed in a completely taken-for-granted ‘unconscious’ way class and gender be longing. Bohemianism in the late fifties and androgyny in the sixties represented a rejection of the personal conservatism of the first decade after the war. all deviant identities were collapsed into one another. Counter-cultural and deviant styles—from Teddy boys’ drapes to CND duffel coats—were familiar in the fifties and sixties. for example. although more than tinged with transgression—or for that very reason—offered hope. ‘off’ colours and simple. ‘Alternative’ styles. the USA and Britain. miniskirts and flat boots. .’ Although the general view might still be that lesbians dressed like men. The more casual bohemian style was associated with the middle-class teachers. After the Second World War. In Paris the designer Courrèges developed the archetypal sixties fashions of trouser suits. and because of its association with youth. when the Beatles first hit the charts. the two modes. certainly not with older women. but had a distinct class meaning. She looks very scrubbed…but also faintly glamorous: the glamour clings to her like the smell of Gitanes in wool. and this alone made heavily butch styles look out of date as much as anything. clearer then. strict butch/femme styles were working class. On the other hand. bohemian dress offered another option: I met Maria during my next-to-last year in prep school… I see her even now striding along in black pants and a man’s white shirt…her hair slicked back behind her ears…a sailor’s pea-coat and no make-up. Unlike the movements to reform dress in the nineteenth century (see Newton. they represented youth in rebellion against the conservatism of cultural life in the fifties—in France. rather childish shapes in clothing: the pinafore dress.

a flat.60 FEMINIST REVIEW these up-market ready-to-wear clothes seemed wonderful: they expressed bohemianism and boyishness simultaneously. for now we have to decide which fashionable we want to look. a denial of difference and desire. On the other hand the pastiche and parody of the postmodern sensibility has acted to deprive fashion of its ‘naturalization of the arbitrary’. This reworking of gender in ‘unisex’ style had at the time an erotic charge which is now hard to recapture. grease their hair. Biba. and even on occasion wear clothes that appear to have stepped straight out of Chain Reaction—while some of the outfits seen at Chain Reaction look like the latest fashion. Whether boyish or effeminate. muffled styles and black everywhere. though. had to have a New Look outfit. Today the imperative of the single style in fashion has waned. gym shoes and bra-less T-shirts. With the emergence of these styles. of twenty or fifty. as it became for the feminism of the 1970s. but very trendy. tough image for women as much as or even more than men. the Japanese designers whose influence extended to heavy. Despite the influence of Christian Lacroix minicrinolines and Dallasty glamour looks. what I remember is the floridly macho look of long hair with flared trousers. Girl models are muscled. I could no longer easily appear as an ‘obvious’ lesbian. In 1948 the fashionable woman. the masculinization of all fashion has continued into the 1980s. In the late fifties I was wearing the tight black velvet or Black Watch tartan ‘drainpipe’ trousers. In the ‘post-modern’ 1980s counter-cultural fashions lost a good deal of their power to shock. the lesbian could slip into the mainstream. widebrimmed hats. likewise emphasized cropped hair (although very long straight hair was also the height of fashion). By this time androgyny had shifted towards styles that were effeminate rather than boyish—the long hair and droopy clothes for both sexes popularized by the hippies. Partly it was because it messed up gender so much more threateningly than the scrubbed little boy look of the early Beatles and Quant. Today fashion styles are not taken so seriously as they once were. not wimpy. By 1966 these styles had modified into high fashion. At the time this was certainly frowned on. with my long curls. hard make-up and urban aggro to fashion. The androgyny of the 1960s has usually been discussed in terms of feminization of men. the flat ballerina shoes and big sweaters of the art schools as an alternative form of dress. It is not necessarily easier to ‘look fashionable’. These made both men and dykes look powerful. whose clothes were cheaper. Punk. Fashion has promoted a hard. being rapidly assimilated into media and then high-street culture. I was sometimes mistaken for a gay boy. In 1969 I even started to wear trousers to work (as a social worker). narrow body and a ‘natural’ look in make-up (although it doesn’t look very natural today!). Indeed. Miniskirts worn with thick black tights and a leather jacket suggest freedom and even aggression rather than passive display. When I look back. Partly this was because it was associated with general social rebellion and sexual radicalism. which gave shaved necks and spiked hair. Also. To some extent his has always been the fate of alternative dress. almost regardless of class or income. which dyke—it’s so hard to look deviant these days. yet two years later social workers were roaming the inner city in torn jeans. which femme. even SM. . androgyny was not then. On one occasion the Tatler used a model dressed in studded leather and a peaked cap to show off a diamond dog-collar. boots. but never so quickly as today. and the Italians who popularized masculine tailoring—together they created an eighties fashion image that was really quite lesbian. Which butch.

London: John Murray. London: Virago. 1989. London: Virago. WILSON. Shari (1987) Women of the Left Bank: Paris1900–1940 . SQUIER. She has just finished writing a book about women in cities due to be published by Virago at the end of 1990. Elizabeth (1985) Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity. Virago. and. Kaja (1986) ‘Fragments of a fashionable discourse’. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Tania (1986) editor. Bloomington. Stella Mary (1974) Health and Art and Reason: Dress Reformers of the Nineteenth Century. (1984) editor. Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture. 1985. London: Batsford. References BENSTOCK. Richard (1988) Oscar Wilde. Lou (1989) Through the Looking Glass. Edmund (1988) The Beautiful Room is Empty. WHITE. London: Hutchinson. Radius. . MODLESKI. in MODLESKI (1986). NEWTON. Susan Merrill. Barbara (1983) From A to Biba. London: BBC Books.DEVIANT DRESS 61 Note Elizabeth Wilson is the author of a number of books: Adorned in Dreams. Hallucinations. BBC Books. HULANICKl. EWING. Elizabeth and TAYLOR. 1988. Elizabeth (1974) Women in Uniform. Indiana: Indiana University Press. WILSON. with Lou Taylor Through the Looking Glass. Women Writers and the City: Essays in Feminist Literary Criticism. ELLMAN. SILVERMANN. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. London: Picador.

they urged an appeal to lesbian pride. we’ve won: What I mean is: We ain’t got it easy. these ‘new lesbians’ gave vent to their outrage at the erasure and/or the dismissal of lesbian issues inside the women’s movement. in keeping with a desire to forget or at least smudge the memories of earlier lesbian struggles. collectives of self-identified lesbians emerged out of the heady ferment of mass political action and social change: in the US. and giving and receiving practical and political support’ (Myron and Bunch. Talking Lesbian’. Michigan announced the birth of autonomous lesbian cultural and political organizing. 1972: 117. assimilationist respectability of the US-based Daughters of Bilitis and similar homophile associations that sprung up in the 1950s and 1960s. but we’ve got it! (Alix Dobkin. gay liberation and the new left. Shelley. working in the kitchens. strength and visibility. Atkinson. 1976–1980 Becki Ross Ah. and all things male or male-identified assumed the reviled status of ‘the enemy’ (see. Rich. or Mankind keep us apart. printed manifestos. 1980). ‘feminism is the theory. and Being with each other. if we Don’t let manipulators keep us apart. In so doing. 1975. here’s what we found. if we Don’t let manpower keep us apart. Undaunted by the familiarity of feeling marginal. middle-class. According to popular lesbian demand. sickness and criminality. Through their discussions. the Furies in Washington. this new wave of largely white. 1976). And. Scrubbing the floors. new lesbians advocated the rupture of ties to the ‘ugly heterosexual mockery’ of the butch/femme Feminist Review No 35. To many. lesbianism is the practice’ became the rallying call. Raising the children. groups like the Radicalesbians in New York. lesbianism became synonymous with the creation of a woman-identified Jerusalem based on principles of ‘sharing a rich inner life. Lesbian feminism early 1970s-style also signified a critique of the conservative. urban and college-educated lesbian feminists set out to wrestle the category ‘lesbian’ away from the heterosexist consensus of sin. bonding against male tyranny. quoted in Abbott and Love. here’s what we found. 1975) In the early 1970s.THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT: Lesbian Feminist Organizing in Toronto. DC and the Gutter Dykes in Ann Arbor. here’s what we found. ‘wimmin-only’ music and public demonstrations. Summer 1990 . this is what we found: that if we Don’t let maneuvering keep us apart. Brown. 1970. across Western capitalist countries.

Ontario between 1976 and 1980. access to a spacious. By the mid-1970s. Ottawa. waves of lesbian activity that were rippling out over the US had spilled across the Canadian border to inspire and influence the emergence of independent lesbian activity. LOOT’s publicized vision was that of an ‘umbrella organization open to all lesbians regardless of class. the Lesbian Caucus of the British Columbia Federation of Women worked diligently inside the federation to integrate a slate of lesbian demands into the overall feminist agenda (Creet. it was unique in that LOOT members rented a three-storey house with two other lesbian cultural/commercial services: the radical feminist newspaper. race. Not only did it represent the largest and most well-known lesbian feminist institution in Toronto during the 1970s. In most smaller cities and towns. Drawing from archival research and taped interviews I conducted with twenty former LOOT members. beginning from within a ‘country that has no language’ (Rich. 1978). To the founders of the Lesbian Organization of Toronto. male-operated bars in the basements of run-down hotels or the uncomfortable edges of feminist. Saskatoon. LOOT was founded in November 1976. degree of openness. centrally located building that would house LOOT and two other lesbian-run enterprises was a dream come true. I will demonstrate how the constitution of LOOT’s membership. The Other Woman and the Three of Cups Coffeehouse. or. lesbians worked with gay men to develop social/cultural networks and communication lifelines like community newsletters. Montreal. 1950s and 1960s (see Abbott and Love. No longer consigned to seedy. religion. political affiliation. out of necessity. ‘A’ is f or Amazon In the spirit of defiant ‘lesbian feminist connexionism’.1 What follows is my attempt to bring into view the struggle of a distinct group of lesbians to claim a collective and empowering public presence in Toronto. In Vancouver. 1972). From the start. social/ cultural centre and a politically motivated organization were enabled and constrained by complex material and ideological factors. Regina. serves as the centrepiece of my inquiry. 342 Jarvis Street or ‘the LOOT house’ would serve to raise the profile of lesbians and lesbian . however not all maintained an independent lesbian character. Those with little knowledge of either of these two lesbian subcultures proclaimed the vertigo of starting from scratch. Collectively the groups constituted the first lesbian centre in Canada. Calgary and Vancouver. The organization was officially disbanded in the spring of 1980. 1986). Winnipeg. or LOOT. Similar lesbian cultural and political activity was emerging across Canada and Quebec—in Halifax. the substance of its accomplishments and its own viability as both a self-help. gay and sectarian left groups.LESBIAN FEMINISM 63 bar culture gay women built in the 1940s. The Lesbian Organization of Toronto. or age’.

and women were encouraged to use pseudonyms in the monthly newsletter. the provincial legislature. Chris complains that.’ It was not an easy time for lesbians to be out in Toronto. I would really like to be number three. photographers were not allowed in the house.’ At the same time.64 FEMINIST REVIEW activism.’ She continues a little later. present a brief to the local school board. anti-gay and— lesbian fervour was gaining momentum. hate literature targeting lesbians (as distinct from gays) was strewn over Toronto streets. the women involved believed that a raised profile surely would contribute to a disintegration of hateful lesbian myths and stereotypes. or the police commission. lobby members of parliament. and in 1977. ‘It’s really a bummer to be one of the only two people called upon to speak as a lesbian 90 per cent of the time. whether they were afraid of jeopardizing paid jobs. give speeches in schools and community centres. LOOT members went to extremes to protect the anonymity of their membership: the mailing list was kept under lock and key in suburban Toronto (and never publicly circulated). tangible fear of being ‘out’. and provide a ‘feminist alternative to the bar scene’. alienating family members or losing custody of children. Above all. In California. Very few women. Because all were not out equally. was continually disenabled by the inability or unwillingness of most lesbians to assume a public stance. I don’t think LOOT is really going to grow if there are not more women who are going to come out publicly. For the first time. or. the Briggs initiative was designed to permit all school boards to dismiss or deny employment to . American antihomosexual ‘Save Our Children’ crusader Anita Bryant made her first visit to Toronto and succeeded in monopolizing mainstream media and stirring up an already vicious homophobic fundamentalism in new-right forces. ‘I do not want to be a public lesbian—I am not interested in having the first thing somebody says about me is that I am a lesbian. Barbara Thornborrow and Gloria Cameron were dismissed from the Canadian Armed Forces for being lesbians. were prepared to lead or even attend a demonstration. One LOOT lesbian describes her unbridled optimism: I had the definite feeling that every woman in the world is going to catch on to lesbianism and is going to come out and maybe only 10 per cent of women would remain steadfastly heterosexual. although lesbian visibility was identified as key to the health and growth of a lesbian movement. Each one of these initiatives would have sharpened LOOT’s profile both in the city and outside. which was not only the precondition for expanded membership but necessary for organized political and cultural intervention. And. resistance to the legacy of lesbian invisibility through the process of coming out would hail the dawn of a new lesbianpositive consciousness and culture. based on the sheer strength of their conviction. On the larger political scene. many lesbians at LOOT harboured the very real. Thus visibility at LOOT. Just like everyone is going to start smoking dope and they’re going to realize it’s stupid to shoot people and we’re not going to have war anymore and human beings are going to change—everyone is going to realize that lesbianism makes complete sense and that the patriarchy will just dissolve. The only way we can have political power is if we are all out of the closet. but basically every woman is going to get the hang of it. In early 1978. Susan articulates a commonplace contradiction: ‘In terms of expanding the lesbian network. whether they were LOOT members or not. Building a membership and the paradox of closetry Ironically. At a 1978 task force meeting. agree to interviews by mainstream journalists. We can count the out public lesbians on two hands. In 1975 racing steward John Damien was fired from the Ontario Racing Commission for being a ‘faggot’. the situation demanded caution. For these women.

and closely linked to the feminist ideology of ‘sisterhood’ (with a distinctly lesbian face). the risks of learning even the LOOT address were great and the price of exposure extremely high. the open membership (i. the fear of police busts and charges being laid for selling liquor at the house. undeterred. judgements of LOOT members were made. jeans. an unofficial set of standards or norms came to define ‘political correctness’ at LOOT. the unwritten (paradoxically masculine) dress code prescribed flannel shirts. Instead. no perfume. leadership and élitism (Adamson et al.e. a lesbian was arrested by a plainclothes officer for selling beer illegally five minutes after the liquor licence expired. and the more general insistence on the ‘magnificence of women’. As Millie attests. highly moralistic definitions of a ‘real’. One lesbian I spoke with declared that. pandering to ‘minors’ or possession of illegal drugs remained a constant threat. little jewellery (except certain lesbian signifiers). the norms typically revolved around selfrighteous. 1988). and despite some evidence that early forms of resistance forced a growing tolerance of homosexuality. At LOOT. norms were activated by (informal) LOOT leaders to make a positive assertion of lesbian uniqueness. At one of the dances. no trappings whatsoever of heterosexual femininity. antimale and correspondent antiheterosexual and antileft sentiments grew alongside the desire for lesbian affirmation and hardened into a purity yardstick (though its parts were never formally articulated to LOOT members or other feminist. In the summer of 1977 in Toronto. gay and left groups in Toronto). Slowly. They vowed to translate this pledge into practice. work boots. and this was quickly followed by the raid of the gay magazine. For LOOT-goers. At the same time. and the 1978 small-scale bath raids. and to promote individual and community development in the midst of oppressive forces. The lavender lesbian sky is the limit From the late 1960s on. idealized lesbian identity. ‘everything LOOT did was against the law’.. the spotlight was on lesbian and gay communities. However. no make-up. for countless numbers of lesbians and gay women who lived in and around Toronto. Against this yardstick. Following the lead of these early alternatives. in other words.. LOOT members committed themselves to the ideal of consensus decision-making. any departure from the norm spelled trouble: . Under the umbrella: will the ‘real lesbian’ please stand up? At LOOT.LESBIAN FEMINISM 65 ‘open and notorious homosexuals’. and not without resistance. Not unlike the dynamics of internal policing common to oppositional social movements in general. power-sharing and overall equality among group members. penetrating glare. And yet. and many lesbians were not prepared to be caught in its roving. Hence the conundrum of how to recruit new members to an essentially lowprofile. short hair. the murder of shoeshine boy Emmanuel Jacques by a ‘homosexual mob’ reignited the early 1970s morality campaign to ‘clean up Yonge Street’. early LOOT members repeatedly echoed their original pledge ‘to be all things to all lesbians’. The Body Politic in late December 1977. inward-focused organization. anticriteria) and antistructure approach meant that LOOT as an organization did not have an official basis of unity to which members agreed in advance of joining the organization. in the name of lesbian validation. grass-roots feminist activists struggled to build radically different social structures which would stand in opposition to patriarchal conventions of hierarchy.2 In all. and a reactive or a ‘first aid’ politics took shape. Whether they identified as feminists or not. Special clothing and accessories were used to announce political commitment (and this also manifested in feminist and other alternative communities outside of LOOT). but of outright condemnation. any sexual identity or practice that smacked of maleness or heterosexuality was the focus not only of suspicion.

Furthermore. In anticipation of the polemic formulated by American radical feminist Janice Raymond (1979). ‘women born women only’ and there was this big transsexual scare where they went around hunting down transsexuals. bisexuality. Now. ‘Oh boy. This contradiction. and to craft rigid lesbianproper’ guidelines made it difficult for LOOT members to retain the organization’s initial diversity. A number of women I interviewed pointed to the negative effects of years of training in sexual passivity and/or inhibition. they’re talking about Sherry and whether or not she’s going to be accepted’. they were jumping all over her. male-to-female transsexuals were deemed undesirable invaders of lesbian culture. I didn’t give a hoot. which ironically. they were prohibited from the LOOT premises. I would argue that the early tendency to conflate sex and danger prefigures the more elaborate ‘discourse of prohibition’ that currently prevails around issues of lesbian sexuality and sexual practice (see Ardill and O’Sullivan. As Sharon extolls in the LOOT newsletter. 1979). the contradictory desire to appeal to an undifferentiated ‘lesbian sisterhood’.66 FEMINIST REVIEW My first trip to LOOT was really offputting. practice and/or fantasy. butch/femme role playing and lesbian bar culture more generally were spurned. after a long and heated debate. wore make-up. in the late 1970s. especially those with boy children. dangerous slope reflected the emergence of male sexual violence as an organizing priority on the larger feminist agenda. she couldn’t possibly be doing it for anybody but men. I was really pressured by group politics and I just felt like all these people were giving me the bottom line which was ‘If you’re changed from a man to a woman you’re still a man’. were either overtly scorned or simply made to feel unwelcome. “Well if they can’t see what we’re talking about and the rightness of our ways. it’s a full-time belief (August. ‘We made attempts but it was like. and I went along with it. We were that arrogant. because looking like that meant (a) she was less of a lesbian and (b).’ Prostitution. Unlike early gay male liberation strategies. served to romanticize and desexualize lesbian sex (at least at the level of talk). she was a blonde. I’m really upset and embarrassed because I was not true to my friend at that meeting. ‘Being a lesbian isn’t an on again off again sexual pastime. Nan comments. combined with the fear of visibility . 1989). what am I doing here? To hell with it! Against a narrow standard of politically allowable lesbian behaviour. former members invariably hesitated. At subsequent meetings they had posters up that said. Several others recall their zealous aim to dispel patriarchal myths of lesbian sexual prowess. talk about trashed! She couldn’t get her foot in the door. In part. and the extent to which lesbians themselves were beginning to identify as victims of incest and sexual assault. And I thought to myself. there was no organized drive to recruit LOOT members from the bars. and gay male sexuality (particularly its ‘public’ and ‘anonymous’ forms) were all subject to harsh criticism. I was with my lover of seven years who was an absolutely beautiful Woman-woman—she was into Miss Clairol. Clearly. In the haze of woman-identified solidarity there was little room for discussion of lesbian sexual pleasure. Well. lip-service was paid to the merits of nonmonogamy (provided that it didn’t involve raunchy sex outside of love). had beautiful clothes and that was all important to her. At the same time. Liz describes her personal dilemma: My best friend’s lover was a transsexual and we went to this meeting at LOOT about transsexuals and I’m sitting there going. then fuck them”. the equation of sex with a slippery. When questioned about their experience of LOOT as a sexual space. and to shut down communication with other sexual minorities. as they now conclude. Mothers. it’s unlikely that all the implications of LOOTs informal membership parameters were anticipated or fully understood. and then emphasized the vast amounts of ‘erotic energy’ in the air. Monogamous relationships were valued at LOOT.

LESBIAN FEMINISM 67 harboured by most lesbians. lesbians of colour. the actual number and diversity of lesbians that LOOT attracted and held on to throughout its existence was very small. So. and their own and others’ lack of consciousness about the specificity of oppression. All dressed up and nowhere to 90 Although a piece of the vision held by a number of founding LOOT lesbians was to develop lesbianfeminist policy and carry out public strategies. No one that I interviewed remembers ever seeing a disabled lesbian at LOOT. the decision not to seek concerted involvement in LOOT was directly connected to the exclusion they experienced as working-class lesbians without the language.’ or as lesbians of colour. For others still. the style or the desire to match LOOT standards. their involvement assumed a variety of complex meanings. At a 1978 task force meeting. others disagreed. young. most of whom chose to work with their own communities in the struggle against racism. While some women avowed that ‘LOOT’s very existence is a political act’. ‘the biggest mistake we’ve made is neglecting the political and educational needs of our community. For those lesbians who were active in the organization. With one exception—the Bi-National Lesbian Conference (English and French) which a group of LOOT lesbians organized largely independent of LOOT (though not without the disapproval of other LOOT members)—LOOT did not assume the organizing lead in Toronto’s larger political arena. but they at least are organizing and we’re . as young lesbians who knew the pain of being tagged ‘under-age’ both legally and experientially. disabled and older lesbians were underrepresented at LOOT. The handful of lesbians who did not fit the mould but who went (sporadically) to LOOT. as older lesbians who felt patronized by ‘the young hot-shots. now connect their inability to make sense of uneasy feelings at the time with an intense desire to belong. working-class lesbians. Pat claims that. We accuse the faggots of all kinds of things. meant that effective community recruitment initiatives were negligible or halfheartedly pursued. the political action committee disbanded shortly after its inception. As a result.

Just try putting out a leaflet or keeping a group together (1982:8). and reigning confusion as to what avenues to pursue. Every bad thing=every patriarchal thing=every heterosexual thing=every male thing4 Pressured to take a stand on a succession of political developments arising beyond their own doorstep. and the impossibility of collectively forging a lesbian-centred political programme that could then be presented to other local groups. In late 1977. several women expressed exasperation at the lack of political definition and direction at LOOT. but we didn’t approach things in a strategic way in order to get our demands met. 1978). So once the motivation to launch a lesbian political offensive at LOOT was either lost or diverted. Finding themselves in the gap fostered by a lack of lesbian-specific political projects and uncertainty or disagreement over how to proceed.68 FEMINIST REVIEW not’ (minutes. a group of LOOT lesbians founded and became heavily involved in Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW). Ann offers her view: It was sometimes difficult to deal with LOOT because you got a lot of rip-roaring angry women. a predominantly lesbian organization without a lesbian agenda which met regularly on the LOOT premises (before swelling numbers necessitated relocation to a larger space). a lack of clarity and time to process thoughts. former LOOT members Lorna Weir and Eve Zaremba speak from their experience: One of the characteristics of dykes is that they are relatively easy to politicize—a process of becoming aware. LOOT members made some decisions with ease. In a 1982 Broadside article. June. LOOT members shifted their attention to external political crises. (As happened elsewhere throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. angry and sensitive to a whole range of issues—and hard to organize. The positions eventually arrived at testify to a particular political consistency whether they were recognized as official LOOT policy or not. others proved more knotty. . In the absence of a coherent set of goals and strategies internal to the organization. Following the lead of rapidly multiplying antipornography groups in the United States. or resignedly left the fold. It’s also apparent that divisions within the membership often were suppressed and conflict avoided so as to protect the illusion of ‘one happy family’.)3 Those who stayed at LOOT turned away from the promise lesbian organizing held for challenges to their own experiences of heterosexism and homophobia. Unacknowledged leadership and a less than democratic process meant that dissenters from the correct line either remained silent. were trounced or guilt-tripped in meetings. For very good reasons we were very angry about a lot of things. Debate on contentious subjects was commonly marred by internal bickering. During the interviews I conducted. Canadian socialist feminists ceded much of the terrain of sexual politics to radical feminists. only recently has this been cause for serious reconsideration. the socialists and the gay liberationists were among the first to leave. reviving the original impulse was next to impossible. And in more general ways they publicized the growing incidence of violence against women and the underfunding of rape crisis centres and women’s hostels. WAVAW members in Toronto organized to stamp out ‘woman-hating propaganda’ through a series of direct actions.

LOOT lesbians were reluctant to publicly. drag ’em out fight. I was pretty outraged at the time. statements that carried the most weight were supplied by lesbians who knew Or had worked with gay men and who had ‘first hand’ knowledge of gay male ‘sexual perversion and rampant misogyny’. Not surprisingly. Family of woman we’ve begun… Unresolved struggles over visibility and political direction. political and social allegiance with men was interpreted as distasteful and potentially threatening to womanidentification. true to the ideology ‘the personal is political’). misogynist and unforgivable’ tactics deployed by some gay men. they refused to countenance the ‘ugly. to the delivery of antiwoman speeches and the burning of the Orange Juice Queen in effigy. And third. roundly denounce the Metropolitan Toronto Police force for raiding the offices of the Body Politic magazine following publication of the ‘Men loving boys loving men’ article in December 1977. disseminating ‘inside information’ gave the disseminators a keen edge on ‘the’ authentic lesbian position. I know for myself. unless one accepts (and most did) the lesbian identity of the ‘spokeswimmin’ themselves as proof of a sufficient politics. at the ‘LavenderHerring Meets the Hetero-Mackerel: A Fine Kettle of Fish’ event organized jointly by LOOT. Paradoxically more androcentric than most would care to admit. and gay men more broadly. As a number of lesbians explained to me. the International Women’s Day Committee (IWDC) and Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) in March 1979 to discuss the relationship of lesbianism to the women’s movement. An eventual stalemate arose largely between socialist feminists from IWDC and radical lesbian feminists from LOOT and WAVAW. they set out to invent an infrastructure of lesbian-specific services: Amethyst—a support group for addicted . created the context from which evolved LOOT’s most sustained and sustaining function: the provision of services and culture. and ‘Squeeze Anita Out’. Ann comments: I remember there was a general feeling that it was awful and terrible and how could men do this to boys and there must be something wrong with these men and they’re really beyond the pale. the dialogue degenerated into a bitter shouting match. Similar negative encounters with socialist men prompted some lesbians to damn the ‘controlling sexism’ and Vanguardism’ of all ‘Trots’ (upon whom ‘too many straight feminists were miserably dependent’). this ‘pro-lesbian’ position contained little if any lesbian content (related to lesbian needs). many lesbians reaffirmed the long history of ambivalence if not antagonism they felt toward this gay institution. sometimes three or four times a week. I thought it was terrible. from the printing of buttons and T-shirts that proclaimed ‘Anita Sucks’. During debates. Though lesbians active at LOOT worked with gay men in the anti-Anita Bryant campaign. Working without blueprints or knowledge of past initiatives. in February 1978. they arranged their own ‘women only march’ for the following week. after a ‘knock ’em down. angry LOOT lesbians stormed out of the March 8th Coalition meeting protesting the decision to permit men on the International Women’s Day march. and no wonder we didn’t want to have anything to do with them. the prospect of lesbian political organizing internal and external to LOOT was either abandoned or riddled with discord. A corps of lesbians went to LOOT regularly. Overall. Second. LOOT itself was fraught with disagreement over the priority of the campaign which significantly weakened the organization’s stand and its contribution. Because personal experience was so revered at LOOT (and in most other grass-roots feminist groups.’ a contingent of very vocal. In so doing. from a purely moral perspective.LESBIAN FEMINISM 69 First. and the strong need shared by most lesbians to nurture pride in their newfound identity.

Meg Christian. Beverly Glenn Copeland and Heather Bishop. Some were terrified to leave their own homes. sometimes barebreasted. the monthly newsletter. As one former LOOT member reminisced. the immediate. some callers were unhappily married. next to the house printing press. actors. and other sundry lesbian feminist business ventures that contributed much-needed operating cash to the LOOT coffers and introduced new women to the house. Sunday brunches and meetings. or were supplanted by. At sporadic intervals. Every August. On Friday nights at LOOT. LOOT’s combined cultural and service orientation was further supported by an ever-transient collection of paying tenants at 342 Jarvis Street: Three of Cups Coffeehouse. On two separate occasions. you’re an Amazon” out loud was very empowering. LOOT was also used by several enterprising lesbians as a forum for carpentry classes and income tax workshops. American lesbian activists and writers Jill Johnston and Charlotte Bunch were invited to LOOT to speak about their work. pasted up and mailed out by LOOT members. The Other Woman. poets and film-makers was also an ongoing attraction. at one point the LOOT newsletter was entirely written. Ruth. lesbians danced. others were young kids. picnics were organized and Dyke-O the Lesbian Bingo was scheduled.70 FEMINIST REVIEW lesbians. Either performing or supporting the performances of lesbian playwrights. the counselling collective and phone-line. Organized baseball and basketball games were introduced and co-ordinated by a couple of other LOOT members. the desire to spend enormous amounts of time listening to lesbian musicians Alix Dobkin. Ferron. Superbia Press. For many. Men would call up and masturbate on the line. practical tasks of service provision either coexisted with. designed. weekly dropins. Women who called would often show up in droves at the Friday night drop-ins. or irate boyfriends would contact us looking for their girlfriends. typeset. movies were screened.’ Members of the all-lesbian band Mama Quilla II practised in the basement of 342 Jarvis Street. carloads of lesbians made the pilgrimage to the fledgling Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival where they congregated in their thousands for a weekend of ‘exuberant lesbian communion and celebration’. printed. thousands of women called up looking for information and advice. Many of the ideas for today’s more . Sappho Sound. took calls a couple of nights a week: Our phone number was listed in the phone book and over the years. a telephone counsellor. ‘Being able to sing “A. Chiefly a social register.

Parmar. the once abundant passion fuelling LOOT had all but dissipated. in the spirit and practice of making a ‘lesbian nation’. Overall. in an effort to reach beyond the borders of the organization’s shrinking constituency. others bemoaned the staggering level of burnout and the lack of interest or inclination among remaining members to introduce a fresh lesbian vision. able-bodied. Later. Although over 400 lesbians attended. transcendent lesbian identity as a medium sufficient for the creation of a politics. Splinter groups increasingly committed to a particular brand of identity politics proliferated (Bourne. At LOOT. Jewish women. culturally focused organization won out over the desire of a smaller minority to establish a militant. a culture and a community. In this way. O’Sullivan. Mid-May 1979. 1988. a lesbian bar (managed by a feminist) for draining LOOT’s last resources. The daily outpouring of energy required to react to political crises coupled with the faithful provision of an enormous amount of social and cultural activity took its toll on the core group which rarely numbered more than fifteen. That a social-service. Is lesbian identity intrinsically liberated and liberating? It appears that the majority of lesbians active in the Toronto lesbian community during the late 1970s initially believed in the commonality of a true. The phone-line. 1989. disabled women and working-class women charged feminism with its exclusively white. women of colour and immigrant women. tremendous amounts of lesbian energy fuelled much of what came to be understood as Toronto’s alternative women’s culture in the late 1970s. passionate women. the last of the furniture and the files were moved out and the doors to 342 Jarvis Street were closed.LESBIAN FEMINISM 71 elaborate lesbian commercial and cultural network. the newsletter and the drop-ins limped along for another year. were first conceived at the LOOT house. Gradually. more traditional political . 1987. LOOT hosted the Bi-National (English and French) Lesbian Conference. At the beginning of May 1980. original. like the music production company Womynly Way. LOOT was unable to benefit from either the rush of enthusiasm or the obvious show of new faces. middle-class character. and inspiring work was executed by dedicated. two and a half years after LOOT’s opening. Some women blamed the early May opening of The Fly By Night. Christian. 1987. By the end of May. fewer and fewer lesbians made LOOT central to their lives. 1989). autonomous lesbian organizing signalled the first of many fractures within what was then reviled as a heterosexual-dominated women’s movement. Adams. a tremendous amount of brash.

1986:55).72 FEMINIST REVIEW formation. however. against men. Nor was there much room for collaboration . i. gay and left communities.. able-bodied and educated LOOT leaders. an organizing method. radical feminist politics of a small group of largely white. antigay. 1985). in mainstream society. our raison d’être became a reactive and critical one. for the first time in their lives access to a lesbian haven’ where they could talk. lesbians came to LOOT possessing differences in consciousness. consensus and diversity were quickly buried under the push to homogeneity. there was little ground from which the systematic construction of lesbian-specific goals and strategies might arise. According to LOOT regulars. Lesbian difference itself can become an ‘explanation. a static and moralistic world view’ (Ardill and O’Sullivan. degree of social conformity and analysis of the roots of lesbian oppression. feminist. the intensity and volume of lesbian energy generated at LOOT has yet to be matched. how to destroy heterosexism’ (1982:34). and. acceptance and safety. to a lesser extent. Initially. middle-class. A positive lesbian identity was named and claimed in concert with the antimale. young. perform. ‘For the first time in the history of feminism. It is equally true that praxis so focused on self-empowerment and self-examination can assume a privatized. read and just hang out became synonymous with nourishment. Zimmerman. With political attention so focused on the exact particulars of womenidentification and on what lesbianism wasn’t at LOOT. antiheterosexual. rather than creative and analytic. tells us much about the immediate needs many lesbians had in the late 1970s. i. Lesbian activist Sue Golding recalls that. meet lovers and friends. domestic and individualized character (see. For the majority of lesbians I’ve interviewed.e..e. well-intentioned claims to openness. dance. antileft. These women remember the exhilaration they felt in coming out through LOOT. They know that their efforts as pioneers served to heighten lesbian visibility in lesbian.

isn’t the price too high? Notes Becki Ross is a Ph. 1981:29). and where as activists we might now go. In large urban centres across Canada and other Western countries. disabled lesbians and so on. Station P. radical lesbianfeminist base. the substance of what they were (and weren’t) able to accomplish and why. ‘We ain’t got it easy. it’s timely. all operate from their own particular analysis of lesbian oppression. All things considered. gay men or members of Toronto’s Marxist and Trotskyist left (many of whom themselves were busy either denying the import of lesbianism to the women’s movement. the 1980s have heralded the subdivision of activist lesbians into specialized groupings: lesbians of colour. Rusty Neal. Sex radicals in most Western capitalist cultures are currently faced with the ascendency of moral and economic conservatism and the erosion of political gains. differently. Holly Devor and Gary Kinsman also provided me with much food for thought. Given the limitations of LOOT and early lesbian feminist praxis more generally. or discounting sexual politics as a bourgeois diversion from the all-important class struggle). age. leather dykes. student in sociology at OISE in Toronto and she loves to teach in small north-western Ontario communities. As well. and the sluggishness of social change movements. ‘failure to move out from there will only isolate us in our own oppression—will only insulate rather than radicalize us’ (Moraga. the rootedness of heterosexism deepened by the AIDS crisis. middle-class. Toronto.D. ability and sexual taste. Ontario M5S 2S7). lesbians against SM. lesbian youth. Nancy Kelly. But as Cherrie Moraga warns. older lesbians. . has much to teach us about where lesbian activism has been. it’s crucial that we continue to devise concrete ways of building coalitions across the breaks that divide our diverse political communities. still I can’t forget Bonnie Zimmerman’s assertion that ‘there is a price to pay for a politics rooted so strongly in consciousness and identity’ (1985:268).LESBIAN FEMINISM 73 with heterosexual feminists. Jewish lesbians. a magazine for lesbian and gay liberation. I listen one more time to Alix Dobkin’s rebellious claim. region.’ And I appreciate her unabashed lesbian chauvinism. race. social and political moment. There is an urgent need for socialist feminist theory that begins from real differences that divide lesbians along lines of class.6 All of these groups sport their own particular brand of identity politics. I would like to thank all the women I interviewed (and whose names have been changed in the text). tells us less about false political priorities (or a failure of political will) than it suggests the location of LOOT in a specific historical. She is an editorial collective member of Rites. Not only is such insight invaluable. and the collective members of the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives/Les archives canadiennes du mouvement des femmes for their generous support (PO Box 128. but we’ve got it. This paper is part of a much larger work in progress. That LOOT as an organization never succeeded in broadening its base of support beyond its narrow white. working-class lesbians. and then moves to suggest the direction of a renewed lesbian political practice. Placing the now dusty album on the stereo turntable. the stepped-up regulation of sex and sexual minorities. labelling lesbians as prudes and paranoiacs. who they were (and weren’t) able to reach. Beyond the confines of insularity An interrogation of the material and ideological conditions under which lesbian organizations like LOOT were formed. this diversity would seem to mark a positive step.



1 ’Radical lesbianism’ as it was developed by French-speaking lesbians in Quebec, has its own distinct history and character. See Brunet and Turcotte (1982). Also see the video (1981) ‘Amazonnes d’hier, lesbiennes d’aujourd’hui’, or the English version of the script, Amazons then, Lesbians, Now, VideoAmazone Collective, Quebec. The unique experiences of Acadian lesbians in the Atlantic provinces and French-speaking lesbians in Ontario and the western provinces have yet to be recorded. 2 See Kinsman (1987), for analysis of the broader historical and social context of Canadian lesbian (and gay) activity in the early to mid-1970s. 3 For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see Weir (1987). 4 This line is borrowed from Golding (1982:83). 5 I’ve borrowed this subtitle from Linda Shear’s song Family of Woman’ on the album Lesbian Portrait, Northampton: Old Lady Blue Jeans, 1975. 6 For material published in Canada by lesbians of colour, working-class lesbians and disabled lesbians, see: Fireweed (1983); Silvera (1988); Brant (1985a and 1985b); Rites (1985a and 1989); Egan et al. (1988); Toronto Rape Crisis Centre—Working-Class Caucus (1988); and Doucette (1990).

ABBOTT, Sidney and LOVE, Barbara (1972) Sappho is a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism, New York: Stein & Day. ADAMS, Mary Louise (1988) AIDS and the Undesirables: A case against Identity Politics. Unpublished thesis, University of Kent, Canterbury. ADAMS, Mary Louise (1989) ‘There’s no place like home: on the place of identity in feminist politics’, Feminist Review, no. 31. ADAMSON, Nancy, BRISKIN, Linda and MCPHAIL, Margaret (1988) Feminist Organizing for Change: the Contemporary Canadian Women’s Movement, Toronto: Oxford University Press. ARDILL, Susan and O’SULLIVAN, Sue (1986) ‘Upsetting the applecart: difference, desire and lesbian sadomasochism’, Feminist Review, no. 23. ARDILL, Susan and O’SULLIVAN, Sue (1989) ‘Sex in the summer of ‘88’, Feminist Review, no. 31. BOURNE, Jenny (1987) ‘Homelands of the mind: Jewish feminism and identity politics’, Race and Class, vol. XXIX, no. 1. BRANT, Beth (1985a) ‘Coming out as Indian lesbian writers’, in DYBIKOWSKI et al. (1985). ——(1989) The call of the heron’, Rites, vol. 6, no. 1. BROWN, RitaMae (1976) A Plain Brown Wrapper, Baltimore: Diana Press. BRUNET, Ariane and TURCOTTE, Louise (1982) ‘Rapport des ateliers’, Amazonnes d’hier, lesbiennes d’aujourd’hui, vol. 1, no. 2–3, reprinted as ‘Separatism and radicalism: an analysis of similarities and differences’, Trans. by Lee Heppner in HOAGLAND and PENELOPE (1988), pp. 448–56. CREET, Julia (1986) ‘A test of unity: lesbian visibility in the British Columbia Federation of Women 1974–1975’, University of Victoria, unpublished manuscript. CUNNINGHAM, F., FINDLAY, S., KADAR, M., LENNON, A. and SILVA, E. (1988) editors, Social Movements/ Social Change: The Politics and Practice of Organizing, Toronto: Between the Lines. DOBKIN, Alix (1975) ‘Talking Lesbian’ on Lavender Jane Loves Women, Durham, North Carolina: Ladyslipper Music, Inc. DOUCETTE, Joanne (1990) ‘Disabled lesbians’ in STONE (1990). DYBIKOWSKI, A., FREEMAN, D., MARLATT, D., PULLING, B., and WARLAND, B. (1985) editors, In the Feminine: Women and Words, Edmonton: Longspoon Press. EGAN, Carolyn, GARDINER, Linda Lee and PERSAD, Judy Vashti (1988) ‘The politics of transformation: struggles with race, class and sexuality in the March 8th Coalition’, in CUNNINGHAM, et al. (1988). FERNIE, Lynne (1988) editor, Sight Specific: Lesbians and Representation, Toronto: A Space Gallery.



FIREWEED (1983) 16, ‘Lesbians of colour, loving and struggling: a conversation between three lesbians of colour’. FREEDMAN, Estelle B., et al. (1985) The Lesbian Issue: Essays from Signs, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. GOLDING, Sue (1982) ‘Knowledge is power: a few thoughts about lesbian sex, politics and community standards’, Fireweed, no. 13. HOAGLAND, Sarah Lucia and PENELOPE, Julia (1988) editors, For Lesbians Only, London: Onlywoman Press. KINSMAN, Gary (1987) The Regulation of Desire: Sexuality in Canada, Montreal: Black Rose Books. LUXTON, M. and MARONEY, H.J. (1987) editors, Feminism and Political Economy, London: Methuen. MORAGA, Cherrie (1981) ‘La guera’ in MORAGA and ANZALDUA (1981). MORAGA, Cherrie and ANZALDUA, Gloria (1981) editors, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, New York: Kitchen Table Press. MORGAN, Robin (1970) editor, Sisterhood is Powerful, New York: Random House. MYRON, Nancy and BUNCH, Charlotte (1975) Lesbianism and the Women’s Movement, Baltimore: Diana Press. O’SULLIVAN, Sue (1982) ‘Passionate beginnings, ideological politics: 1969–1972’, Feminist Review,no. 11. PARMAR, Prathiba (1989) ‘Other kinds of dreams’, Feminist Review, no. 31. RAYMOND, Janice (1979) The Transsexual Empire, Boston: Beacon Press. RICH, Adrienne (1978) The Dream of a Common Language, New York: Norton, p.31.——(1980) ‘On compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence’ Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5, no. 4. RITES (1985a) vol. 2, no. 5, ‘Lesbians and gays of color supplement’.——(1989) vol. 2, no. 4, ‘Youth supplement’. SHELLEY, Martha (1970) ‘Notes of a radical lesbian’, in MORGAN (1970). SILVERA, Makeda (1988) ‘Man royals and sodomites: some thoughts on the invisibility of Afro-Caribbean lesbians’, in FERNIE (1988). STONE, Sharon (1990) editor, Lesbians in Canada, Toronto: Between the Lines. TORONTO RAPE CRISIS CENTRE—WORKING-CLASS CAUCUS (1988) ‘Around the kitchen table’, Fireweed, no. 26. WEIR, Lorna and ZAREMBA, Eve (1982) ‘Boys and girls together: feminism and gay liberation’, Broadside, vol. 4, no. 1. WEIR, Lorna (1987) ‘Socialist feminism and the politics of sexuality’ in LUXTON and MARONEY (1987). ZIMMERMAN, Bonnie (1985) The politics of transliteration: lesbian personal narratives’, in FREEDMAN et al. (1985).

The Interaction of Gendered Structures and Values
Ruth Carter and Gill Kirkup

For more than a decade we have been engaged, as educationalists, in trying to improve the opportunities for women in engineering, technology and related, nontraditional fields. We reached a point where we felt we could not continue without knowing more about what it is like to be a woman working as a professional engineer. Excellent research had been done on the working lives of blue-collar women (Cockburn, 1985; Coyle, 1984; Walshok, 1981) and on the lives of women in other professions (Kanter, 1977; Marshall, 1984), but there was nothing specifically on professional engineers. Within that profession, particular questions needed to be addressed. How is gender manifest in the engineering profession, how is that gendering perpetuated, and, most importantly, how does this affect the life experience of women engineers both inside and outside their work? In 1986 we carried out a small research project based on interviewing thirty-seven women engineers in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, to find out why they had chosen engineering as a profession and what, for them, were the rewards and penalties. Engineering is still a predominantly white profession but our sample did include some women of colour. The exclusion of women f rom the engineering profession There are three levels to which a British engineer in any specialism can aspire: craftsman/craftswoman engineer, technician engineer and professional or chartered engineer. The Engineering Council is the coordinating body which regulates the standards of education and experience appropriate for admission to each level across all the engineering institutions. In the USA professional engineers are recognized on an independent state-by-state basis, with each state operating its own engineering registration board. As the engineering institutions and trades unions developed in nineteenth-century Britain, they adopted a deliberate policy of excluding women which has been well documented (Drake, 1984; Cockburn, 1983). It was in response to this exclusion, and to the changing social conditions of both countries after 1918, that women engineers formed their own professional organizations. The British Women’s Engineering Society (WES)1 was established in 1919 and it’s American sister organization, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)2 in 1949. Their aims are similar: to promote the study and practice of engineering among women. In the British engineering industry in the 1980s women formed a steady 20 per cent of the workforce, a far lower proportion than that found in the economy as a whole. Of roughly 400,000 women workers in the industry, 88 per cent were employed in clerical jobs or as semiskilled operators performing routine tasks such as assembly work. Less than 1 per cent were skilled craftswomen; slightly more than 1 per cent were

Feminist Review No 35, Summer 1990

but that’s professional. the number of tasks which are always competing for attention. She must be competent in the office. do financial forecasting and budgeting and take responsibility for her own work and that of her team. For an engineer. Viewed in another way. supervise colleagues and unskilled labour. they held of themselves. Many of our interviewees had avoided recognizing that they were entering a masculine field until they actually entered employment. can be a very protective one.FEMINIST REVIEW 77 professional engineers. public world where she is competing with men on their terrain. This leads to a range of dilemmas. women engineers acknowledge that it is important to present an appropriate professional image and identity. Then there were the calendars on the wall. the women we interviewed identified problems which they had not anticipated. or financial control for the construction of a petrochemical plant. the bland. On the other hand. While acknowledging the rewarding features of their careers. for example. construct digital and analogue models. While I was at university I wasn’t aware that there was any disadvantage in being a woman. What is also concealed is the amount of managerial responsibility as well as technical responsibility the women exercise. over dress. They are made aware that their gender matters to other people and that their male colleagues may not have the unproblematic. use computers. write reports. for example. I wear jeans. The engineers we talked to were enthusiasts about their work and regarded its variety as one of its most attractive features. US electrical engineer) . the siting of underground nuclear-waste dumps. Such titles conceal awesome responsibility for major projects. (Noreen. If I know it’s going to be up to my ankles in mud.6 per cent of professional engineers working in the engineering industry were women. Working as a woman engineer Within an engineering company. UK transport engineer) To be accepted professionally. until then. and personal presentation. gave no indication of the work they did. make presentations to clients. at that time it didn’t occur to me… It wasn’t until I went out to work that I started to become aware that there were women being discriminated against. An engineer requires sophisticated interpersonal skills. But nine times out of ten I have nice slacks that I wear outside. The educational environment. concise job titles that our engineers held. such as Programme Manager or Civil Engineer. The day-to-day balance between the tasks changes with the type of project on which she is working and the stage that the project has reached. but well-defined boundary from the private world of women to enter a masculine. participate in meetings. draught. only 4. The woman engineer represents an anomaly. If I am going to be inside very seldom do I wear slacks. It was lots of little things that began to come into my mind. coming to look at you’. especially for a black woman. a proportion which has shown a steady increase since the late seventies. she has crossed an invisible. both image and identity are male and white. Then women engineers are forced to recognize the gendering of the work. She must be able to design. even for women choosing nontraditional subjects. When I first got to work on my first job I was told that it was around the building that there was this new young woman starting: ‘So I expect well be getting a lot of visitors around the office in the next couple of weeks. in the laboratory and in site work. combined with the pressure of deadlines. accepting perceptions of them that. I increasingly found these quite disturbing. (Wendy. I feel. can be very stressful.

US environmental engineer of colour) Physical characteristics. (Abigail. (Joyce. Therefore I wear my ‘power suit’. There are days when I do wear the uniform because I’ve been at things where I don’t want my clothes to interfere with what I have to say. just said: ‘She goes’… I’d rather not travel with anybody any more than they want to travel with me [laughs]. and if he has certain reservations or prejudices. cos there was a lot of feeling from one wife that she didn’t want me to go. I call it. it can be very difficult to get on with your job. [Clients telephoning] often assume you’re the secretary without knowing and they will try and explain things in too much detail. (Tanya. He won’t delegate work to you or trust you to do something or involve you in things. take on a new significance: A person’s appearance carries a lot of weight. UK mechanical engineer) The gender of a woman engineer remains an issue for male colleagues.78 WOMEN IN ENGINEERING I have my own sense of what works and what doesn’t work… I do not like the business suit for one thing. I was surprised. They would assume that something was going on. She’d never met me. 1977). No. US chemical engineer) Preserving a professional identity as a woman is problematic when the profession is used to employing women only in nontechnical support roles. Women engineers encounter a commonly held stereotype that women cannot manage men. (Zena. such as stature. if I have to go to a board in the conference room on the top floor with senior officials. I’d rather be alone. I can’t have lunch with you. (Pearl. One of the defining characteristics of professional engineering is the supervision of male manual workers. (Pauline. I think that God designed my color to make me wear colors. affecting both her relationship with male supervisors and the content of the work delegated to her. I don’t. and I’m pretty small. vibrant colors. talk to me’. US nuclear engineer) . In the office…relationships can be difficult. the men suspect each other: One of my male peers said: ‘You know. seriously. when I came to this job. and she didn’t want him with me. First of all. And my office. Women at work are the target of their male colleagues’ sexual fantasies. UK civil engineer) Many men find it difficult not to sexualize any woman in their environment. She only knew I was a woman. US transport engineer) Because of their own fantasies. [Then you] do a unit conversion in your head…just to show that you know what the difference is and you do understand what they’re talking about without saying: ‘I’m an engineer. I don’t like that kind of wear. the men didn’t want me to travel. just put their foot down. and which therefore has repercussions beyond the workplace. I have found difficulties with my boss. You end up working for a man and relying on him to delegate work to you. beautiful. and I think they immediately look at you and think: ‘There’s a lightweight’. For the most part.’… and he explained very carefully to me that he couldn’t go to lunch with me because it would be viewed very personally by his colleagues. something of which their wives are well aware (Kanter. and I take advantage of it.

are projected onto their female colleagues. (Audrey. Jokes with sexual innuendo and covert or overt sexual harassment are perhaps the most distressing. Sexuality.FEMINIST REVIEW 79 These problems are generated by the pervasive nature of the sexual in the workplace. What it does to women who are in professional and relatively powerful positions is to deny them their rightful power and authority. she emphasizes ‘the role of separation as it defines and empowers the self’ and for women. UK electrical engineer. The quotations that follow illustrate different levels of unacceptable harassing behaviour which escalate in their offensiveness. basically. historically. Hearn and Parkin (1987) argue that this occurs in all workplaces and in all organizational structures. expressed above by Audrey. What is especially difficult about engineering. I was in the little area where we make our cups of tea and coffee and one of the men from the office nearby came in and said: ‘You’re looking very nice today.’ (Margaret. At work. To admit the occurrences of harassment to themselves and to others is to admit that some colleagues do not recognize their professional status. We were interested in the engineers’ attitudes to technological development and change. Women need to be continuously vigilant concerning their image and behaviour. which is viewed as belonging to the private domain. is also present in the public domain. compared to any other profession. then. UK gas engineer) I haven’t suffered physical harassment in a sexual way here. that they have to be tolerated. you still have to get on with them and work. women engineers are constantly subject to pressures created by the perceptions of their male colleagues. technique from responsibility. 1982:156). hundreds of little incidents through my working life that have jarred… I hadn’t been here more than a few weeks. In engineering the thoughts and actions of the male engineers. (Wendy. you’re going to say something. you know. This physical masculinity is also heavily sexualized. often overtly. One fella pretended he’d fallen in love with me and has made life for me very awkward.) There’s been. He has made it obvious to everyone in the factory…and the fact is that at no time has this been encouraged… I’ve found it very difficult… You cannot say that you object because. For men.’ I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. been premised on engaging in psychological separation: subject from object. to see how far women who have been socialized into a masculine profession . at worst. What harassment does to the powerless is to confirm their lack of power. ‘attachment that creates and sustains the human community’ (Gilligan. Engineering and personal/political values Gilligan’s work on gender and personal values has been crucial to developing an understanding of how women and men differ in their conception of themselves and their value systems. undermined. who impose a social construction on engineering and endow it with gender. UK transport engineer) What makes these situations even worse is the feeling. ‘the male sexual narrative’ as Hearn and Parkin call it. but I feel a lot of the office banter has gone beyond the acceptable point. The women engineers now embody the fantasies placed on the pin-up and the sexual jokes and stories prevalent in the formerly all-male workplace. I sat at a meeting the other day and it was the first time I’d contributed to the discussion… I was told: ‘Oh yes. is the cult of ‘physical masculinity’ connected with the work. They are made to feel self-conscious and their professional competence is at best called into question on a regular basis. The methods of scientific theory and practice have. I thought you were just here to look pretty. spiritual from material. you’re looking really rapeable.

Those engineers who worked on military projects had most internal conflict about their work and their politics. for example. I’m not very sure about nuclear bombs… I don’t like getting into discussions on the pros and cons… I feel it’s easier to argue against than for. Some of the sample would have agreed with Gilligan (1982) that women bring a different set of values and attributes to their work. yet they continued with their work and found ways to rationalize it. I haven’t got the facts and figures to sort of throw at people. Rebecca. No one engaged in such work defended the production of weaponry. that her work had been used for weaponry in the Falklands War. Most engineering is done in a team. The greatest enthusiasts for progress were the water engineers. I’m just someone who thinks whoever’s in power is going to be equally bad. the repercussions of unreliability stretch further than the immediate project.80 WOMEN IN ENGINEERING adopt masculine value systems and how far they retain female value systems. (Joyce. one of whom chose the field because she felt it allowed her to retain her idealism. Gilligan suggests that it is hard for a woman to retain a position in which she denies her responsibility towards others. The visibility of a woman engineer is a problem of which every one of them was conscious. But for a woman engineer. the engineers preferred to ascribe the problems of safety that were raised to bad management than to unacceptable development criteria. UK mechanical engineer) Relating to other women Younger women engineers have undoubtedly reaped some benefit from social and cultural change brought about by the last twenty years of feminism. war. I’m not either Conservative or Labour or Liberal or anything. but they were unlikely to identify themselves as feminists. and about her own performance since it reflects on them. her need not to feel responsible for nuclear disaster work led her to feel alienated from all forms of politics and to avoid discussion about nuclear energy: I don’t think I’d work here if I disagreed with nuclear power. The interviews took place in 1986. Another transferred to it from her original field of chemical engineering when she realized she could not retain her idealism there. I think I try and be nonpolitical. bringing a different perspective to traditionally masculine work. but these positive characteristics were countered by the negative ones of emotionality or unassertiveness. Although they were very concerned about these incidents. One common separation made by the engineers was between ‘political’ issues and ‘technical’ issues. or to avoid the full impact of it for as long as possible. Occasionally the visibility can be turned to advantage as when a client asks particularly for ‘the lady engineer’. worked in the nuclear power industry. Similarly. because she is so visible. They were also concerned not to claim special consideration because of their sex. but blotted out the possibility of its application in a real situation. many women engineers speak to groups of young women about engineering as a career because they feel able to offer a positive role model. shortly after the American space shuttle exploded on lift-off and the major nuclear accident at Cheraobyl in the Soviet Union. not technologists (i. Skills of fostering good interpersonal relationships in management and good writing ability were cited. Few of them questioned the wider idea of technological development as synonymous with progress. was shocked when she saw on a television news broadcast. for example. ecology and nuclear power were identified as issues for politicians. . themselves). Food production. an unreliable engineer causes problems for all the team members. She had recognized its potential. Joyce. to tackle. represents all women engineers and so must worry about the reliability of other women since it reflects on her..e. A woman engineer.

they repeatedly denied any suggestion that they might have been actively discriminated against or that their lives had been more difficult in any important respect than their male colleagues. They had complicated and contradictory attitudes towards other women. that they express themselves better. at present. it seems likely that the proportion of women in engineering will grow. 1987). who wish to have their gender disregarded in favour of a nongendered image of a professional. these women engineers were also likely to perpetuate myths about female ways of thinking or the difficulty of having a female boss. And this despite describing many occasions when. Some thought. fulfil their individual potential and participate in a socially useful career. who undertook both housekeeping and child care throughout their childrens’ childhood. Their personal connections with other women outside work were. but she is in her sixties and [I need to support her] until she’s 65 and can draw social security. very slight. And it is competition that women find most threatening (Gilligan. Yet the women agreed to be interviewed because they wanted to encourage more women into engineering. very few made deep friendships with female colleagues. that they are more reticent about putting themselves forward. They excused it by explaining that they no longer shared the same interests. 1982. Some of the older engineers had relied on one woman. although they were dependent on other women to fulfil support roles for them. US acoustic engineer) Many of the women spoke of the problems they had in maintaining friendships with women outside engineering. I brought her to point out that behind every working woman there’s a working woman…now I don’t need her with the boys grown. (Dora. They were very conscious of the support they gained from this and the debt they owed: When they had a retirement party for me. which might explain why WES and SWE still only recruit a small proportion of all women engineers. of a different race. they were also relating incidents which we. Conclusions: should more women be encouraged to become engineers? While the engineers emphasized the pleasures and rewards of engineering and denied discrimination. Like Judi Marshall’s women managers (Marshall. or that they had relocated and lost touch. for example. to be consistent when they perceive (or perhaps mis-perceive) gendered behaviour in themselves and other women. to us as outsiders. It is also difficult for women. in the US. is the stress that maintaining both a professional identity and a private life engenders. it is harder to be one of a very small group because you are then thrown into competition with each other. Engineering is challenging work: it offers women the opportunity to acquire skills. This. there is a high personal price for women to pay. Orbach and Eichenbaum. as in most professions. the listeners. Although it is hard to be the lone woman in a work environment where you may have the dubious pleasure of ‘mascot’ status. perceived as being uncomfortable or even intolerable. suggest that. Once there is a visible corps of women—a ‘critical mass’— .FEMINIST REVIEW 81 Unfortunately. combined with the all-pervasive and unsupportive male values of the engineering workplace. in general. exploit their talents. 1984). However. that women are more loyal but also more petty. For most of them there was no special pride in being a woman engineer. It is difficult to separate myths people hold about gendered behaviour from actual behaviour patterns. The engineers did not identify strongly with a category of ‘women’. the events appeared discriminatory or sexist. usually of a different class and. As the trend for more women to enter the workforce continues and current demographic pressures produce expedient initiatives from employers to recruit amongst mature adults. The drawback.

References COCKBURN. is beginning to emerge (Kolmos. All of these offer opportunities for empowerment. 1986). Jeff and PARKIN. Mary Lindenstein (1981) Blue Collar Women: Pioneers on the Male Frontier. Rosabeth Moss (1977) Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Anchor. A feminist model of engineering. activity in professional societies such as WES or SWE. Angela (1984) Redundant Women. ORBACH. New York: Basic Books. Susie and EICHENBAUM. Cynthia (1983) Brothers. Their book. 345 East 47th Street. Wendy (1987) ‘Sex’ at ‘Work’: The Power and Paradox of Organisation Sexuality. Imperial College Road. HARDING. Chichester: Wiley. women engineers need to take control of the situation in which they find themselves by whatever means they can: networking. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Such a model requires both a reexamination of the fundamental assumptions underlying engineering practice and an acknowledgement of non-objectivity on the part of the engineer. Life should be easier for the women already there as it becomes more possible to put gender issues on the agenda. New Haven: Harvard University Press. HEARN. University of Michigan. Imperial College of Science and Technology. KELLER. Barbara (1984) Women in Trade Unions. COYLE. Evelyn Fox (1985) Reflections on Gender and Science. consciousness-raising. London SW7 2BU. New York. Sandra (1986) The Science Question in Feminism. NY10017. DRAKE. United Engineering Center. Women In Engineering: A Good Place To Be? was published by Macmillan in December 1989. Notes Ruth Carter and Gill Kirkup co-chair the Women Into Science and Engineering Group at The Open University. KOLMOS. London: Virago. 1985 and Harding. KANTER. for example. paper contributed to the Fourth International Conference on Girls and Science and Technology. Meanwhile. 2 Information about the American Society of Women Engineers can be obtained from: Society for Women Engineers. London: The Women’s Press. London: Pluto. too. 1 Information about the British Women’s Engineering Society can be obtained from: The Women’s Engineering Society. Room 305. Carol (1982) In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Keller. Judi (1984) Women Managers: Travellers in a Male World. ——(1985) Machinery of Dominance: Women. WALSHOK. London: Pluto. Luise (1987) Bittersweet. GILLIGAN. Department of Civil Engineering. New Haven: Yale University Press. Men and Technical Know-How. . Anette (1987) Gender and Knowledge in Engineering Education.82 WOMEN IN ENGINEERING perhaps more will follow them. 1987). London: Century Hutchinson. paralleling visions of a feminist science (see. MARSHALL. Brighton: Wheatsheaf.


(Harriss. I find it puzzling. that she concludes by arguing in favour of a ‘class based analysis’. it adopts a traditional form of the hierarchy of oppressions. for example. It assumes that a political strategy which accounts for diversity will necessarily take the form of ‘identity Feminist Review No 35. led to the elaboration of a ‘hierarchy of oppressions’. It suggests that gender and class are separate systems. not to elucidate but to fix a woman somewhere along a pre-determined hierarchy of oppressions in order to justify or contest a political opinion by reference to a speaker’s identity. [emphasis added] (38) This analysis is problematic on several counts. it does seem to me that a class analysis is a necessary precondition for an adequate understanding of other oppressive systems. class. Although it would be falling into the trap of class reductionism to say that a proper analysis of capitalism could account for everything (socialistfeminists have long argued that. although unnamed as such. Arguably. Harriss argues as follows. 1989:37) In her exploration of the struggles for municipal socialism. in turn. lesbian and gay. it is a class-based analysis which holds the most potential in terms of a politics which can explain the interconnections between power systems.) needs when making policy has obscured class interests…[emphasis in original (43) Her conclusion is to reject the ‘articulation of separate “women’s issues”’ (52) in favour of a focus on class. By privileging class. She recognizes the limits of identity politics and rejects the ‘hierarchy of oppression’. The ideology of sisterhood emerging from the early women’s movement was inadequate to the complexity of women’s experience. An obsession seized the movement for self-labelling and labelling others. and the centrality of. therefore. The recognition of diversity precipitated a politic based on identity which.IDENTITY POLITICS AND THE HIERARCHY OF OPPRESSION: A Comment Linda Briskin In her article on ‘New alliances: socialist-feminism in the eighties’ Kathryn Harriss raises important strategic questions for socialist feminists. etc. Harriss suggests that the political fragmentation which results from the politics of identity has concealed the commonality of experience around. Black. Summer 1990 . the domination of women or the control of sexuality are in no way just effects of capitalism). The process of addressing sectional (women’s.

but of the fundamentally linked character of oppressions. and challenges any hierarchy of oppression based on abstraction. and provides the basis on which to deconstruct the unified category of Svoman’ sometimes found in feminist analysis.1 This is neither a ‘retreat from class’ or a retreat from gender. does not occur on the basis of abstract principle. with those issues having the most apparent class content at the top and those with the least at the bottom. political and ideological conditions. nor to isolate them as separate structures when they have fused together historically. (Weir. 1987:75–6)2 As we move away from the abstraction of class primacy toward a ‘socialist-feminist historical materialism’. the tendency to seek a clear homogeneity of (class or gender) interests is challenged. what does it mean to make class as well as gender central to the analysis?. the focus is on the ways they intertwine. out of the attempt to elaborate the complex links between sex and class. Harriss rejects the most important theoretical and strategic insights of socialist feminism. what does it mean to make gender as well as class central? As a result. Rather than the abstract ranking of the relations of power inherent in class. for example. As feminists. but rather in relation to material. race. an anti-theoretical perspective but one which theorizes from a standpoint. and to the hierarchy of oppressions implicit in the politics of each. economic. in part. and sexual orientation. a reconceptualizing of the relations of power and the introduction of a socialist-feminist historical materialism. class or race. I might add. as socialists. Socialist feminists in Britain need to start from the contemporary reality of a racially and sexually divided capitalist class society. then. we move toward a more conjunctural analysis of the relative weight of various relations of power and to a focus on the interrelationships between systems of power. Socialist-feminist theory. gender and sexual orientation. not of class primacy. Lynne Segal makes a similar point: We should not be looking for the primacy of sex. a necessity to successful political struggle. we asked. race. the basis is laid for the legitimation of the multiplicity of relations of power based on class. This approach challenges. and a politic based on a hierarchy of oppressions (the abstract identification of certain oppressions as more salient than others) is rejected. difference rather than commonality is placed at the centre. In both cases. 1987:67) The relative strength and import of these relations to groups. The recognition of the class-gender link contests the primacy of class in socialist theory. we asked. This is not. but a rejection of class and gender reductionism. By implication. [emphasis in original] (Segal.FEMINIST REVIEW 85 politics’. This means that the prioritizing of issues. gender. Socialist-feminist analysis arose. ethnicity. individuals and political practice is determined within the context of particular historical conjunctures. This allows socialist-feminist practice to move beyond an internal hierarchy of issues. . Once the abstract privileging of certain oppressions is removed as a theoretical starting point. we reconceived capitalism as patriarchal capitalism and posed a challenge both to feminism and to socialism. reinforce and contradict each other in historically specific contexts. can provide a framework within which an increasingly sophisticated appreciation of what difference entails can be developed. any form of a base/superstructure model (of which class primacy is a part) in order to liberate an understanding of the relationship between the workplace and the household. if not intention.

in particular through the ‘dual systems’ debate which examined the degree to which patriarchy and capitalism are separate or linked systems. Experience has been mediated ideologically through the ‘personal is political’. often political ‘correctness’ flow directly from identity. and personalist stance. Such a perspective provides the necessary counterbalance to the tendency to seek a recreated sisterhood based on the ‘timeless truths of women’s lives’ which reproduces many of the biologistic notions of the right. socialist feminists must argue against the tendency to excessive fragmentation. between lesbians and heterosexual women. Rather the problem is the apolitical way in which identity is mobilized. often interfere with open strategic debate. then we must also repudiate the notion of class and gender as separate systems. Strategically. Indeed. at the same time. if we analyze. but rather through alliances and coalitions. depersonalizes/ politicizes women’s experience. it validates experience over expertise and. and in favour of building sisterhood on the basis of difference. Identity becomes the basis for political unity. as Harriss suggests. inevitably renders invisible the specific gendered and raced experience of class. In part this apolitical character arises from an over-emphasis on ‘experience’ inside the women’s movement. and lead to moralism. the problem of identity politics is not its appeal to identities. at the same time. Socialist-feminist theory has struggled with the relationship between class and gender. the tendency to overemphasize personal experience in the personal/political dialectic intersects with the politics of identity to establish the problematic and competitive hierarchy of oppressions. and exclusion organized around guilt. but historically specific forms of patriarchal capitalism. as currently practised.86 COMMENT Establishing the saliency of gender does not specify the nature of the connection between linked systems of power. But socialist-feminist practice must resist the mobilization of identity in an exclusively personalist and experiential way and encourage a practice which reflects the systemic intertwining of identities. On the one hand a socialist-feminist analysis of diversity based on class/race/gender/sexual orientation helps promote an understanding of the significance of these differences. both of which are expressed organizationally in the women’s movement. victimist. and focus instead on the intertwining of class and gender. In practice. Finally. for in the first instance such a recognition of diversity is a healthy and critical response to the ideology of an unmediated sisterhood among women. the ability to build sisterhood on the basis of difference may be central to the survival of the women’s movement as a movement for change. and indeed.5 The politics of identity. but if we reject the ‘class only’ approach of socialism and even the ‘class first’ modification. both of which undermine the possibility of political alliance between feminists. and. and produces a strategic orientation away . not the separate systems of capitalism and patriarchy. this can conceal political differences. to an unmediated set of class interests. between lesbians. indeed. Mary Louise Adams (1989) criticizes identity politics and details the way in which they promote an individualistic. For implicit in the operation of the politics of identity is the assumption that a political strategy and. The ‘personal is political’ challenges the public/private split and the overvaluation of the rational and concomitant devaluation of the affective. not through large homogeneous political organizations.4 However potentially liberating. for example. Socialist feminists are caught in a particular contradiction in relation to identity politics. Gender and race are not just ‘identities’ but systems of power as deeply embedded as class that cannot be understood in isolation from one another.3 It is beyond the scope of this comment to delve deeply into this debate. and it provides the basis for a coherent analytical and strategic approach to women’s oppression. if we study the gendered character of capitalism and the classed character of gender. overemphasize differences. The identification of certain oppressions as more salient than others promotes bonding on the basis of shared victimization. A class first approach which favours highlighting the commonality of class interests. Experience has definitely demonstrated that this invisibility can also divide people. for example.

1981). gender. 1988). or. Socialist feminism does not represent an uncomplicated unity of socialism and feminism. socialism with a few concessions to women’s concerns.6 This perspective on organizing around difference also provides a challenge to the vanguardist politic of the left which. Indeed this is a key contradiction with which socialist-feminist practice must struggle. Balancing the pulls of diversity and alliance inside and outside the women’s movement is no easy task—strategically or theoretically. 1 This theorizing of difference is not meant to imply an equation between difference and oppression. socialist feminism presents an alternative paradigm and politic to socialism. and the personalist forms of identity politics. rather than offering a source of potential celebration and appreciation’. What has emerged out of the complex. Diversity must be deeply embedded in our practice but need not be expressed as apolitical ‘identity politics’. This additive approach implies a distinction between socialism and feminism contrary to my vision of socialist feminism. Notes Linda Briskin teaches women’s studies at York University. Such a balancing must reveal class in its historically specific gendered and raced forms and provide the foundation for the development of a strong coherent movement for change. (Housman. Socialist feminism does not privilege either class or gender but understands the complex and contradictory relation of class. that ‘a class analysis is a necessary pre-condition for an adequate understanding of other oppressive systems’ and further. Socialist feminism is not only about women’s liberation. . the logical extension of such an insight is not. Rather I argue for a neutralizing of difference in terms of the distribution of power and resources on the one hand. Socialist feminism challenges the hierarchy of oppressions found in socialism and feminism. and indeed to feminism. and not uncontradictory. I agree with Judy Housman’s challenge to the ‘tendency within the Left to regard difference merely as an occasion for oppression and power relations. it is also a reelaiming and reconstitution of socialism. coedited Union Sisters: Women in the Labour Movement (Toronto: Women’s Press. 1983) and coauthored The Day the Fairies Went on Strike (for children) (Vancouver: Press Gang. that making class visible necessarily means rejecting what she calls a more ‘sectional’ analysis.7 The critique put forward here does not mean that Harriss is wrong in her assessment that the struggles with municipal politics in the 1980s in England concealed class issues. she persuasively argues this position. conversely.8 However. race and sexual orientation. as Harris concludes. Toronto. She has co-authored Feminist Organizing for Change: the Contemporary Women’s Movement in Canada (Toronto: Oxford. race and class as separate systems. is a strategic reflection of a class primacy politic. the conceptualization of gender. She has been a socialist feminist activist in the Canadian women’s movement since 1969. Indeed. In fact. not just an additive one.FEMINIST REVIEW 87 from economic and social change. 1982:56) My vision of the changed relations of power does not call for the elimination of difference (such a perspective might arise out of liberal feminism). I submit that socialist feminism provides an alternative standpoint from which to consider the theoretical and strategic implications. It is not feminism with a bit of socialism thrown in. In so doing. it might be appropriate to take the point one step further and to suggest that it is often class that is obscured inside of social movements. and the affirmation and validation of difference on the other. Canada. interaction of the politics/practice/history of feminism and of socialism is a unique synthesis that challenges the confines of traditional socialism and expands the scope of feminism as conventionally understood in relation to women’s rights. despite its roots in the struggle to create a relation between the two. in some sense. This politic has a resonance not only theoretically but also strategically.

’ Hooks goes on to argue for bonding on the basis of ‘shared strengths and resources. In ‘Autonomy. in contrast.88 COMMENT 2 She goes on to point out that ‘One gets many points for helping to organize a support picket for striking women workers. This ranking scheme is partly inherited by socialist feminists from socialism. 8 This point is suggested by Lorna Weir in ‘Socialist feminism and Canadian official sexual regulation’. but few for putting together a lesbian conference. Many of the issues raised in this comment are elaborated on more fully in these other pieces. they [white women] could abdicate responsibility for their role in the maintenance and perpetuation of sexism. It suggests that women do not need to change their lives. Linda and MCPHAEL. Feminist Review. She argues that the success of Canadian socialist-feminist organizing around choice was in part due to the way that class issues were highlighted. which they did by insisting that men were the only enemy. reinforced bonding on the basis of ‘shared victimization’ for particular groups of women to the exclusion of building effective political alliances. 31. References ADAMS. Year Left 5. bell (1986) ‘Sisterhood: political solidarity between women’. how we saw ourselves… Much of the cultural feminism of today. 4 For an extended discussion of the contradictory contribution of the ‘personal is political’ see The ideology of the women’s movement’. legitimacy and integration: a comparative analysis of socialist feminist practice in Canada. ADAMSON. Heidi (1981) The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism’. Further. if naively. (1988). in SARGENT(1981). Linda (1989) ‘Socialist feminism: from the standpoint of practice’. Michael (forthcoming) editors. Although I agree with hooks. no. BRISKIN. Toronto: Oxford University Press. the United States and Western Europe’ (Briskin.’ (Segal. optimistic that as women we could change our lives and those of others once we saw through “male lies”. HOOKS. 1989) I explore the particular contradictions facing socialist-feminist organizations. sufficient in themselves. BRlSKlN. bell hooks makes the point that bonding based on shared victimization reflects male supremacist thinking since ‘sexist ideology teaches women that to be female is to be a victim’. Mike and SPRINKLER. HARRISS. but threatened by the perpetual and invasive danger of men. 23. I examine the conditions in Canada that have facilitated the emergence of a strong autonomous socialist-feminist practice. in Adamson et al. #30. 5 In her analysis of sisterhood. no. Studies in Political Economy. Many feminists were eagerly attempting to change every aspect of their lives: how we lived with and related to other adults and children. 1987:68–9) 7 In ‘Socialist feminism: from the standpoint of practice’ (Briskin. no. at the same time. in particular the seminal article by Heidi Hartmann The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism’. the United States and western Europe’ in DAVIS and SPRINKER (forthcoming).’ 3 See Sargent (1981). Kathryn (1989) ‘New alliances: socialist-feminism in the eighties’. my point is that the recognition of difference between women has not only challenged the notion of shared oppression for the category of woman as a whole but has. Mary Louise (1989) ‘There’s no place like home: on the place of identity in feminist politics’. . how we worked and developed new skills. 128) See hooks (1986). BRISKIN. and that there is little hope of men themselves changing. Margaret (1988) Feminist Organizing for Change. is less concerned with change: it calls upon the timeless truths of women’s lives. Autumn. DAVIS. racism and classism. HARTMANN. Linda‘Autonomy. Nancy. New York:Verso. Feminist Review. (forthcoming).’ (p. 31. hooks points out that by ‘identifying as “victims”. integration and legitimacy: a comparative analysis of socialist feminist practice in Canada. 6 The cultural politics of…the early seventies [were] extraordinarily. other than to separate themselves from the lives of men. forthcoming). Feminist Review.

Boston: South End. SARGENT. (1987) editors. Lynne (1987) Is the Future Female?: Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism. Radical America.J. November/ December. LUXTON. ——(forthcoming) ‘Socialist feminism and Canadian official sexual regulation’. in LUXTON and MARONEY (1987). M. WEIR.FEMINIST REVIEW 89 HOUSMAN. in DAVIS and SPRINKLER. Women and Revolution. Judy (1982) ‘Mothering. Toronto: Methuen. H. vol. SEGAL. the unconscious and feminism’. Lydia (1981) editor. London: Virago. Feminism and Political Economy. Lorna (1987) ‘Socialist feminism and the politics of sexuality’. . and MARONEY. no. 16. 6.

And when my shoulders Grew broad enough To support the dubious responsibility Of being yo’ woman. Runnin’ yo’ life. You had the nerve To ’cuse me of being One of those Feminist bra-burning types. But I kept on Being yo’ wife. Mother to yo’ kids. Yo‘wife. Always takin’ charge. Yo‘part-time mother Feminist Review No 35.The Reluctant Feminist (For Sandi) Regina Buf kin Baby. Givin’ orders. And still look good In a tube dress. Guaranteed To make you The envy of yo’ peers. I ain’t burn my bra On purpose It exploded from Spontaneous combustion ‘Cause of pressure From you Want’n me to be Yo‘everything. Summer 1990 . Yo‘quintessential fashion accessory. Yo‘mother.

But in a less masculine way. Feminism and all that bullshit! My warning signal Is hissing of its own accord. . ‘Cause this sister Is bustin’ out of here… And in a less Feminine way. All the while My bra smouldering ‘Cause I knew this Shit is for the birds. The pressure is on. Women’s Lib. Phone yo’ real mother. I don’t need nobody To tell me when the pressure is on! I can feel the metal clamps Searing my flesh. The underwire vibrate.91 Mother to yo’ kids. And I ain’t about To let you drive me Into no cuekoo’s nest Wit’ yo’ contradictions And traditional convictions ‘Bout this sister’s position Behind yo’ ambitions! Fuck Gloria Steinem. And learn how to raise Yo‘kids. The cups lift and separate at the seams. The straps cut into my shoulder-blades. man! I think it’s time you Find a new wife.

I’ve lived longer than Meli (we played With dolls together). That isn’t allowed. Takes him up on it. offering Admetus A way out of death. and If death isn’t fate. Feminist Review No 35. and Admetus hasn’t A clue how to handle him). Say what everyone expects me to say. I keep up appearances. And my babies lived. Damned-fool god. Apollo. Only he couldn’t get anyone suitable. and If anybody should know it. Until I— Wives always get stuck with the dirty work. God of prophecy. my husband’s needs come first And he does mean well and Will take care of the kids (Though Meme is too sensitive For his own good. At least I didn’t die in childbirth. fate-speaker. And my husband and children. Life is short. Even if Apollo and Admetus Don’t know it. It’s expected. Even when they’re queens Said I would. I mean. I don’t know what is. fool in kind. too. Summer 1990 . But my life isn’t worth much. Not that I don’t love life.Alcestis Nancy Zumwalt I knew it was wrong from the start. So Admetus. it’s he. (Like his parents. they’re not young) To go instead.

Alcestis Reborn. Note Nancy Zumwalt lives in Massachusetts. Trained as a classicist. And so. she has written about Greek and Roman poetry and is currently working on a critique of the classical tradition and American culture. and check The linen chest. . an adaptation of the Euripides play. USA. is from a play in progress.93 Tomorrow’s the day and I’ve got to Talk to the children. Farewell. her poem. ‘Alcestis’. and give The housekeeper last-minute instructions.

Feminist Review No 35. 6). What is truly startling.REVIEW ESSAY Clara Connolly Sacred Cows. The good. Weldon seems to believe that ‘Muslims’ (a completely homogeneous category) are burning Satanic Verses as a protest against the decadence of Western society. 20). ISBN 0–7011–3556–5. the bad and the ugly To say that Page 3 was responsible for the Rushdie Affair may be going a little too far. 20). against the vulgar products of mass civilization (‘How much is “good” on TV? Very little’. however. particularly literary. indeed encouraging. Chatto Counter Blasts no. Take the boobs off Page 3. However. the defence of high culture. Salman Rushdie to speak in parables in His service (p. she believes. and therefore. and the right of an intellectual élite to decide what’s good for the rest of us: I do not believe it is beyond human ingenuity to restrain persons of low calibre who commit blasphemy against the God of my choice…whilst allowing.99 Pbk. She writes throughout in a tone that is meant to startle and unsettle us out of what she calls ‘our agreeable and passive overtolerance of everything and anything’. £2. 17). to ‘leftish humanist feminists’ like herself) to some of the stalest and most overworked myths in British culture: the superiority of Christianity over Islam (The Bible is at least food for thought. its most offensive aspect (to her. The Koran is food for no-thought’. 1989. she assumes to them) being Page 3 of The Sun. p. and she has rightly attacked the muddled thinking behind current concepts of multiculturalism. by far the most shocking that I’ve read has been Fay Weldon’s Sacred Cows. Fay Weldon. but not all that far’ (p. p. for present purposes I will restrain myself to taking issue with her on two subjects of particular relevance to feminists: her views on censorship. she is a feminist who identifies women as the main victims of fundamentalism. and of multiculturalism as it mediates relations between Black and white women. I suppose this is because I expected to be able to share many of her views: she has been Rushdie’s most consistent and courageous champion within the British literary establishment. is the ease with which she retreats from this kind of cultural relativism (endemic. Of all the statements that the Rushdie controversy has produced. and maybe the Asians will stay off the streets. 4: London. Summer 1990 . I couldn’t resist giving you these quotations to convey some of the flavour of Weldon’s pamphlet. particularly of Page 3.

is its best defence against an arbitrary decision by the censors. Secondly. men interpret the religion according to their own interests and place themselves in the position of the powerful majority. How could Fay Weldon herself have defended the Nigel Wingrove film. She is able to flex her respectable feminist muscles to support a position which might otherwise be regarded as élitist. there is undoubtedly an element of opportunism in her choice of target and in her invocation of the name of Clare Short. not at the point of distribution. It is surprising that Fay Weldon hasn’t heard the words of fellownovelist Nawal El Saadawi. can easily contemplate it. who can see the legal system as clearly on ‘our’ side. her impatience with public taste suggests a very dubious solution to her: censorship. Pratibha Parmar rightly waras: ‘censorship of any kind has always had disastrous and repressive effects for communities without access to power’ (1988:125). Only those who have every confidence in the law and its method of enforcement. In making common cause with fundamentalists against Page 3. it is dishonest to suggest that women—all women—have common cause with Muslim fundamentalists ‘who put their own women in total protective clothing’. This is equally true for minority communities battling to challenge orthodox versions of events like Broadwater Farm. as at present. Feminists cannot afford to be mistaken about the nature of all religious funda mentalisms—their effective target is always women’s control over our lives and sexualities. She can argue that the veil is in the interests of women only at the expense of ignoring feminists across the world—most notably Iranian women in their thousands after the revolution—who have fought against its enforcement. more traditional objections to sexual expression. capable as it already is of seriously challenging feminist voices on the abortion issue. 22). Thus she can put a feminist gloss on her distaste of British popular culture in general. censorship of whatever kind is a dangerous method of education in public morality. are Fay Weldon’s arguments consistent or thorough. However sincere her loathing of Page 3. ‘imposed on the maker’s end’ (p. It could be said that this failing is common amongst feminist campaigners against pornography. Us and them and multiculturalism Listen to what she has to say about white feminists: . Neither here. against charges of blasphemy if its production rather than its viewing had been banned? Anyway. but she seems unaware that it is an issue for debate amongst them. but at the point of production. The very existence of the film. for example. It is highly irresponsible to commit such grumblings to the wide distribution that Chatto can provide. both here and in the States. and for minority groups—like feminists and lesbian and gay organizations—challenging current norms of morality. This is probably not Fay Weldon’s conscious intention. Nevertheless. who says: ‘men remain the medium through which [the Arab woman] understands religion. nor anywhere else in the pamphlet. Of course there are Asian and Arab feminists also who have supported the wearing of the veil. who in their eagerness to popularize their cause lay themselves open to the danger of contributing to the growth and influence of the Moral Right.REVIEW ESSAY 95 Such simplifications are both dishonest and dangerous. Naturally. in whatever cause. (though not on other issues) she fails to distinguish between feminist critiques of pornography and other. It is counterproductive to seek alliances with such enemies on a moral crusade. Visions of Ecstasy. Weldon’s position is all the more dangerous because she fails to recognize the growth of Christian fundamentalism. I often felt I was eavesdropping on unguarded expressions of witty irritation she would indulge in at the dinner table with friends. Has she seriously thought through the implications of this proposal? At least the present regulations allow for some measure of semi-public debate. or book. imposing submission on women’ (1988:19).

All she has to say of Black feminists is the following: ‘too put upon by the black brothers. who insist that any white interference is by definition racist…to dare say no. once we’ve disencumbered ourselves of multiculturalism? This is where her analysis falters. these last ten years? It is true that Black feminists in the early 80’s challenged white feminism—dominated as it was by separatism at the time—to recognize the necessity of working with men. The same women. too frightened of being labelled white racist. the one nation acknowledged’ (p. This is an active group of Black and white women from many religious backgrounds who are campaigning for the abolition of the blasphemy laws. argues for the American model of uni-culturalism: let the child do what it wants at home. 32). the one God worshipped. but on our own behalf. (For a spirited development of this argument see Sahgal. easier to be seen on the side of the ethnic minorities.96 FEMINIST REVIEW too involved in rooting out ideological heresies to worry about the fate of Muslim women in our midst…pleasanter. The women’s movement is not a rescue service. 1989). as practised by many local authorities— particularly among its ‘caring’ professions. élitist. 33. So multiculturalism cannot be substituted for an attack on racism. Fay Weldon. went on to found a network of Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF). I have deliberately chosen examples from education and social work. no. Where has she been. Here her thinking is absolutely at one with the Tory right. How many feminist teachers have organized a Divali assembly. have hesitated to support a woman leaving her family. and the ending of state subsidies for all religious schools. too idle to sort out the religious from the racial. assuming that Black communities (but not white ones) are homogeneous. because it could certainly be considered within one’s line of duty in these spheres to ‘worry’ or ‘interfere’ (in Weldon’s words). But perhaps more extraordinary is her lack of criticism of . from the political. no. but ignored the racist bullying of Asian children in the playground? How many feminist social workers. But organized feminism is a different matter. It is just that racism—in all its institutional and material forms—cannot be reduced to the lack of it. here in the school the one flag is saluted. There is undoubtedly some truth in it: we have too easily allowed multiculturalism to stand between ourselves and Black feminists. WAF believes that a secular state is a pre condition for a genuinely pluralist Britain. And. But they have also campaigned against domestic violence in their own communities. p. against racism. it is often unable to recognize sex and class divisions among the ethnic minority communities. in contrast. encouraged by the response at this event. 35). and organized a network (still fragile and unsupported) of Black women’s refuges. it hasn’t been about taking action on behalf of others. we are all sisters: our problems are the same’ (p. to interfere (p. and British values inculcated. So what would Weldon have white feminists do. at the expense particularly of Black women. 36). It is this history of campaigning on women’s issues—often in the teeth of Black and white antiracist hostility—that has given some Black women the confidence to hold a public meeting in defence of Salman Rushdie in the heart of one of London’s Asian communities (see Feminist Review. all in favour of the multicultural. and thereby her ‘community?’—have hesitated to take into care Black children suffering from paternal violence because of half-baked notions about Black families being ‘stricter’? Not that there is anything wrong with multiculturalism. 110 for the statement released after this meeting). Few of us will not smile—or squirm—at this description. who would like to see Christianity reimposed in state schools. Weldon’s position will only serve to fuel the rising demand for subsidized Muslim schools. Self-styled community leaders—often drawn from the most conservative elements—are allowed to speak for all. Fay). alongside numerous campaigns for women facing deportation on separation from their husbands (our problems are not all the same. if it means respect for cultural difference.

in CHESTER and DICKEY. is an antiracist education policy that would include a genuine examination of Britain’s colonial past and racist present. (Multiculturalism won’t do as a substitute—it professes an interest in other cultures and leaves ‘Englishness’ inviolate). challenge the claims of the fundamentalists who speak in the name of antiracism. London: Zed Press. Southall. 52 Norwood Road. from the liberal. Gail and DICKEY. in Interlink. Note For further details about Women Against Fundamentalism contact Southall Black Sisters. pro-Rushdie media — because of its picket of the Muslim anti-Rushdie March of 27 May in London last year. But the real battle-lines are not as Fay Weldon has drawn them in her superficial account of the Skirmish of the Texts. May/June. Clara Connolly is a member of both Feminist Review and Women Against Fundamentalism. She believes that ‘we’ could—if only we would—speak and act on behalf of ‘them’— the Black sisters. Julienne (1988) Feminism and Censorship. if it is of this kind. rather. References CHESTER. SAHGAL. telephone 01 571–9595. Nawal El (1988) Introduction to TOUBIA (1988). WAF received a considerable amount of publicity—not all of it welcome or supportive. at the same time. can make a long overdue contribution to a broader. but who threaten to further restrict the destinies and choices of women? That discussion— a complex one—has already started.REVIEW ESSAY 97 British nationalism. PARMAR. Gita (1989) ‘Transgression comes of age’. Education. Middlesex. How do we address the brutal forms of racism that corrode relations between Black and white people in this country—including between Black and white women? How do we. SAADAWI. . Is she seriously suggesting that we offer a ‘British’ identity to Black children at a time when Blackness is excluded from definitions of Britishness? What we need. Christian or ex-Christian liberals have the monopoly on enlightened values. but it needs serious and sustained contributions from us all. Dorset: Prism Press. more inclusive and more tolerant definition of Britishness than the current one. the Muslim women left to their miserable fate. Pratibha (1988) ‘Rage and desire: confronting pornography’. Christian morality. TOUBIA. at a time when we are the disgrace of Europe (which itself doesn’t set very high standards) for our narrow xenophobia. Nahid (1988) Women of the Arab World. white. The only difference between herself and the multiculturalists she denounces is that they have the grace to maintain an uneasy silence on what she bravely asserts—the superiority of a white. How could Fay Weldon have missed it? I suspect this is because it would fit uncomfortably with her thesis—shared by the multiculturalists—that white.


It was sitting back in the apartment waiting for me. deadly. Short sentences. Working in a cheap diner. .99 I walked out in the snow trying to get away from Delores’s ghost. almost in a confiding manner.95 The Dog Collar Murders Barbara Wilson Virago Press: London 1989 ISBN1 85381 066 5 Pbk £4.REVIEWS After Delores Sarah Schulman Sheba: London 1990 ISBN 0 907179 51 7 Pbk £4. thoughts and behaviour are probably going to horrify the reader from very early on in the novel. the linking of a reader with a character whose actions. These comments on this particular subgenre are necessary in relation to Scbulman’s new novel since the unnamed main character is not intended to be sympathetic. Snow was powdering up the sidewalk. drinking to excess. The reader becomes the narrator’s accomplice. Even though the narrative is usually in the first person it is clear from the outset that the reader is being addressed directly. Schulman’s narrator has just been left by her (female) lover of some years and is plunged into depression and drink in a seedy subculture of New York. with a pearl handle. are the classic signifiers of what has come to be known as the ‘Hard-boiled School’ of detective fiction. spare descriptive writing and a preoccupation with the city so that the urban landscape becomes part of fiction in its own right. a few men and complete strangers. she obtains by chance a gun—‘tiny. but I’d seen too many winters to be surprised by how beautiful they can be. cropped. unwashed and mostly unloved. sleek and feminine’. She proceeds to have a series of fantasies about shooting various people including her ex-lover’s new woman. The opening paragraph of After Delores shows us immediately that we are in a lesbian version of Chandlerland. It is a bold trick to attempt.

It is this element that disturbs me. lesbian-produced erotica. whether prostitution. It has proved very easy for reviewers to criticize Wilson over this book. Schulman uses the form of the ‘hard-boiled novel’interestingly without a professional private investigator which is usual in this subgenre—to look at power within relationships and between employers and employees. the use of violence and guns and whether it can ever be justified. The Dog Collar Murders sees the return of her series sleuth Pam Nilsen who investigates the murder of a prominent antiporn activist at a conference. If you think that killing is sometimes justified. in fact necessary. strangled rather than shot—the narrator becomes involved in the relationships of the dead girl and eventually. Feminist Review No 35. sado-masochistic relationships. And why should investigative fiction confine itself to specific incidents rather than ideas or political concerns? The speeches on particular political lines in the opening chapters are the equivalent of character-building in classic detective fiction: in a case where the motive for murder is clearly political the political persuasions of the suspects and victim are of the same importance as more traditional motives of money or jealousy in Agatha Christie. In the US. Summer 1990 . Wilson’s three novels have been the most consciously polemical of feminist thrillers.100 FEMINIST REVIEW As the book progresses and the murder takes place of a woman she has met only once—incidentally. This novel throws up so many contentious issues. There is such a ready acceptance by the narrator of the possibility of using the gun—the fantasizing has in a very brief two chapters turned into a calculation of its safety value: I remembered I had a gun in my possession. although echoes of Chandler turn up in her novels in the style of writing. It is clear that The Dog Collar Murders is a logical extension of Wilson’s attempts to stretch the thriller genre to encompass other kinds of investigation. violence against women or rape. Whether or not the book comes to the right conclusions or not depends on the reader’s point of view regarding murder. I had a gun. As the most adventurous of the new wave of feminist thriller writers it was always likely that Wilson would at tempt to tackle the current hot potato of feminism: pornography and its related questions of erotica and desire. In the course of her investigation she looks at sexshops. violently solves the murder. gunmakers Smith and Wesson have produced a handbag-sized gun for women which they advertise in women’s magazines with slogans which prey on women’s fears of the city and stress the protective possibilities of carrying a gun. I could use it any time I chose…the next time somebody went too far. Detective fiction purists feel she has pushed too far the boundaries between didacticism and ‘proper’ thriller-writing. She also solves the murder as a sideline. then it will be possible to enjoy this book for the energy and excitement of its writing which is terrific. I had the power to go further. both proand anti-erotica feminists think that her conclusions are too ‘woollyliberal’ while the inclusion of long speeches putting forward different viewpoints in the argument has been criticized for slowing the pace. such as Mary Wings and Sara Paretsky. Barbara Wilson certainly does not fit into this category. It also manages to approach more closely to that Chandleresque style which some of the more enterprising lesbian and feminist thriller writers. are attempting. She consistently attempts to marry the ideas of a ‘classic’ thriller with investigating issues pertaining to women. the place of fantasy in sex and most of the pro—and anti-porn intellectual positions. None of these criticisms is fair.

Wilson is published by Virago and Schulman by the much smaller Sheba.95 Are we the ‘one in ten’ born this way. Feminist Review 29) was more coherently organized around the theme than the book which represents it. how do we incorporate the reality of the body back into social constructionist ideas? The conference itself by all accounts (see for example Franklin and Stacey’s ‘Dyketactics in difficult times’. and what links this article to the one on the merger process and lesbian therapy? The best and most thoughtprovoking articles are those which address general theoretical issues. She searchingly . or have we been made lesbian or gay through experience or even by choice? Have women always engaged in what we would recognize as lesbian sexual relationships—is there a line of dyke fore-sisters stretching back into the mists of time?—or has the meaning and practice of samesex love changed in different social and historical contexts? The debate between essentialist and social constructionist accounts of homosexuality was the central theme of the conference in Amsterdam in 1987 from which this collection of articles comes. This raises the question of how conference collections attempt to illustrate the rich diversity of material and debates to make a coherent book. Indeed the conference aimed to push the debate further.REVIEWS 101 It could be said that these two novels represent opposite ends of the spectrum of feminist thrillerwriting. While Schulman has gone for gritty urban realism and. Futhermore. Which Homosexuality?: Essays from the International Scientific Conference on Lesbian and Gay Studies Dennis Altman and others GMP Publishers: London 1989 ISBN 0 85449 091 4 Pbk £7. especially in its purest forms. This is a rather disparate and uneven collection ranging from articles addressing the broad theoretical questions posed by Vance and Jeffrey Weeks on the one hand. While we might agree that the meaning of sexuality. The main addresses to the conferenee have been included here. Wilson can be seen as a writer in the tradition of Josephine Tey or Ruth Rendell but with a feminist consciousness. It is interesting that in the USA Schulman’s novel is published by a mainstream house while Wilson has remained with Seal Press. fashionable violence and toughness. to what extent do we believe that sexual desire itself is innate? There becomes a danger of deconstructing the category of sexuality entirely. Why should a paper on gay theology have been chosen. moving from Faderman’s glorification of romantic friendship to current preoccupations with women cross-dressers and a rehabilitation of the history of butch/ femme role-playing. but was the keynote address at the conference. for example. but it’s unclear what selection criteria were used to choose from the other 400 papers presented at the conference. Linda Semple Homosexuality. It seems that the conservatism of the UK market for thrillers is taking longer to break down than that of readers in the USA. showing the changes in these typifications of lesbians since the eighteenth century. Carol Vance’s paper. Vicinus takes on the ‘tangled history which embodied the outlawry of passing. but also identifies some major problems with this theory. and violence against gay men in Holland. Martha Vicinus examines the way in which lesbian history limits itself by reflecting present fashions and concerns. including lesbians and religion. to very specific discussions of particular issues and pieces of research on the other. In the UK. and sexual object choice are socially constructed. Maybe this shows the amount of ‘crossover’ (into the mainstream thriller market) potential which Schulman’s brand of thriller is seen to have in the USA. possibly. She defends social construction theory from some misconstrued attacks. the idealism of romantic friendship and the theatricality of aristocratic play’. sets the tone. which not only opens the book. or provide a review of lesbian or gay work in a particular academic disci pline.

for a reworking of some essentialist ideas. ironically. and Dennis Altman reviews the effects of the AIDS crisis on gay male communities in the West. The refreshingly unembellished detail of South London in the fifties provides us with an idea of the physical.’ The book then proceeds in an unashamedly anecdotal way. arguing that there exists a shared cultural identity. perhaps somewhat implausibly. The other lesbian papers represent more specific pieces of research for the most part. including turn-of-the-century sexology. and the women who were intermittent lovers of women.95 At the outset of her book. maintaining that social constructionism cannot altogether account for the transcultural and historical continuities of butch/femme patterns among Third World lesbians today and in anthro pological research. Alison Oram Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This—My Life in the Jazz World Val Wilmer The Women’s Press: London 1989 ISBN 0 7043 50408 Hdbk £16. (The European practice of using the word science to refer to social science and even history reads oddly in relation to a conference like this. it would be perverse to read it in hope of theory. and it is the academic and the lesbian or gay researcher who will find this book. Should it be a problem that our political movements are out of kilter with the theoretical paradigms? However. This notion struck me as a pretty familiar one. Monique Wittig examines the idea of Rousseau’s social contract to argue that it is essentially a heterosexual and unequal contract. in the course of discussing the development of myth and symbol in lesbian poetry over the past ten years. race and politics. Saskia Wieringa argues. Her advocacy of the significance of the ‘intermittent lesbian’ and other women on the margins undermines unified notions of what constitutes lesbian identity. but what . although the debates in this book are relevant to all of us. Jeffrey Weeks contextualizes some ‘big questions’ about gay identity and politics historically and today. where it has connotations of sexology. I’ve confined myself to discussing the lesbian papers. social and musical environment of her growth. which would be politically distasteful and highly contentious to some lesbian historians. the disappearing femme. androgynous women. It’s interesting to note that European and American academics were putting the final nails in the coffin of a simple essentialism at a time. The unfolding of this life is simple. no children. and I wonder if the North American Indian women she discusses would recognize themselves in any way in the contemporary butch/ femme fashions of London’s night clubs. when lesbians and gay men in Britain were increasingly resorting to these arguments as a defensive position against the attack posed by Section 28. it is not aimed at the general reader. But these projects. useful. Vance and Weeks.) Certainly the questions raised here concerning essentialism and social constructionism are very pertinent ones for political activists. She examines the relationship of the lesbian poet to her community. The book sells itself as ‘mandatory for those engaged in scientific research or political advocacy’. Liana Borghi also reviews the whole area of lesbian literary theory and practice. or parts of it. This is not one of those. music journalist and photographer Val Wilmer states the terms on which she offers us the story of her life in jazz: ‘People often write autobiographies as if they had no mother. despite differences of language. Her article sits uncomfortably alongside the sophisticated social constructionism of Vicinus. and that women’s best response is to reject it. as if sexual love had passed them by. Among the men. and worse to judge it thereby. though her journey towards it was convoluted. are necessary if we reject as ahistorical the idea of the universality of lesbianism as we understand it today.102 FEMINIST REVIEW questions some current assumptions and suggests aspects which we might usefully re-evaluate.

and later. with this book. Writing letters out of the blue to the Jazz Greats. the simplicity of events and lack of interpretation early on. In this instance Valerie Wilmer. the deep South. and in the telling of her story. and most of us were content to consume the product and take little or no notice of the means of production or the origin and kind of raw materials used. Because Val is so disarmingly honest about the facts. the inside story of how a young woman can persist in following her passion on her terms against some very subtle and not so subtle odds. from white peers of both sexes who were suspicious about anyone who stayed so close to Black players and their community. scraping together the cash for concerts. an English lower-middleclass. Because Val doesn’t fall into the trap of autobiographic anachronism. There’s also that nice sense of the hobby and the profession being unrelated at the start—that the vision of her ambition was of fag in mouth ‘bashing out the news’ in Fleet Street. It is left to us to speculate what it is that moves some women to make the leap. those younger energies and abilities were rapidly converted to something rarer. set in London. and a no-nonsense account of the . began hacking out a path from a jungle of prejudice and ignorance about the realities of Black music. in those music and journalistic circles which might have closed its doors to her had she done so. The result is an enjoyable frisson between these disparate elements. New York.REVIEWS 103 unfolds is remarkable. What a loss it would have been had Val succumbed at any stage to the pressures of decorum. It’s obvious from the very beginning of this impressive saga. and Africa. at that stage. white woman. and that jazz was still. that young Valerie would never be content to separate the music from the people who played it. When Valerie’s passion for recorded music and a growing specialization in jazz drove her to the roots of that music and its creators. but also. never covert) about the nature of her sexuality. it’s easier to see now that the problems lay in the inflexibility of all those armchair observers and their difficulties with someone who refused to hide behind manufactured objectivism or the inconsistencies of theory. when feminism fell short of encompassing her early behaviour. the reader has a satisfying sense of growing up alongside the protagonist. a passionate pastime. Her legacy is not only the deeply and painstakingly secured documentation of the core of contemporary popular music. she recounts. that she took a course in photography with little enthusiasm. give way to a more philosophical and analytical view later in the book. and our knowledge of what their combination eventually produced. She was right to be unapologetic about her style. a series of encounters that would have been unimaginable for most of us at that age. There’s a feeling that for many years Val has had to soft-pedal her early years. but recognizable. theory or peer pressure and given up or denied any of the apparently contrary elements of the way she has managed to conduct her work and life. for the most part. And working from the heart clearly drew flack: from the jazz scene in general which regarded all young unattached women hangersabout as star-fucking hopefuls. to abandon the complex truths about all that caring love of the music and people of the vast African diaspora to a slightly dismissive ferment of rumour and misunderstanding: and that similarly she has had to be a little less open than she would like to have been (and even then. endlessly hanging around backstage—these were the messy beginnings of an ultimately welldefined opus. The result is a social history of music like no other. Only occasionally recalling a moment when her young enterprise gave her cause for wonder. This music was rapidly usurped from the originators by modern market-makers. became an adolescent girl whose energy and activity was exceptional. young. The Streatham tomboy with a compatible little brother and a hard-working mother who let rooms in their house. as complex as it is with all of us. With this book Val has made the courageous decision to tell it like it was. who almost invariably responded with a generosity not often associated with stardom. when such processes are more accurate representations of what age and experience has furnished.

story. relegated to the back (cover) of the book. We learn at close hand what the woman was doing with her time all those years. We are privileged. impassioned. Val admirably resists political defence. at times much to be envied. as comfortable readers. She is not afraid to judge some of her steps as mistakes. and steadfastly sticks to telling that wonderfully rich. their friends and families. and the strange irony that has this particular artist. There are quibbles. The absence of a firmer editorial hand leaves us with perhaps too many of the very small and ultimately intrusive ‘mentions’ which seem only to have survived because of the author’s desire to leave no one out. but these have more to do with production than content. self-motivated and exuberant way which is unique to the true scholar of any age. clearly painful times her right as a White Woman to enter into and comment on a Black world was challenged. utterly non-academic. Less pardonable is the sloppy proofing. shambling. nor reconstruct the myriad battle-fronts she encountered in her attempt to step outside the accepted confines her society and professions demanded. smiling and in her element. like so many of the fellow artists whose work she has spent her life documenting. In resurrecting the countless. saw her pursuing ‘the knowledge’ in a thorough. the apprenticeship Val Wilmer chose for herself and then invented as she went along. it does make for a jerky read up front. conveniently protected from the dangers of the front line which she continued to brave. and uncelebrated members of the society from which the music sprang. To all outward appearances unstructured.104 FEMINIST REVIEW development from birth to maturity of a dynamic woman whose documentary arts deserve to be reappraised as a whole in the light of this book. Robyn Archer . While the sentiment and show of respect is admirable. to meet the real characters.

the women from Britain who went to Gothenburg are intending to meet.NOTICEBOARD Report from Gothenburg Twenty-five women travelled from Britain to attend the Fifth Annual conference of the European Forum of Socialist Feminists in November 1989. including the one held in Manchester in 1988. the reports from some of the earlier conferences. Copies of the papers from Gothenburg can be obtained for £2 (inc. papers and workshops dealt with such themes as women’s work in the restructuring of the economy. including Eastern Europe and countries outside Europe. Summer 1990 . We are hoping that the next conference will be held in Yugoslavia in November 1990 on the theme of ‘Citizenship and Empowerment’. The theme of the conference was Women in Changing Economies: feminist perspectives and strategies’. London NW6 3AA. For more information about these meetings and the 1990 conference. Sweden and was attended by 130 women from some twenty countries. what perestroika means for women. It was held in the Kvinnofolkhogskolan (a community school run entirely by women for women) in Gothenburg. In the meantime. Garden Flat. please contact Claire Crocker. 7 Acol Road. but at the time of writing all this has yet to be confirmed. Feminist Review No 35. In addition to the individual country reports. are also available at the same price. Any women who would be interested in hearing more about the Forum are most welcome to join us. p & p) from the same address. feminist visions and future strategies for women’s work and lives.

106 .

Women in an Iranian Village. Davin. On ‘Beyond the Fragments’. Coward. 8 9 10 11 Socialist Societies Old and New. Campbell Iranian Women. Froggett & Torchi. Protective Legislation. Elson & Pearson. Women in the Soviet Union. Hollway. Stacey & Price. Position of Women in Family Law. Land. Gregory. Brophy & Smart. Cowie & Lees. Buckley The Struggle within the Struggle. Cockburn. Moi. weir & McIntosh Irish Suffrage Movement. Slags or Drags. Abortion in Italy. Coultas. Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination. Talking Sex. Abortion. Lovell. Tabari. Beechey. the Feminist and the Devil. Chantal Akerman’s films. SEXUALITY ISSUE Sexual Violence and Sexuality. Hay Protective Legislation. Delphy. Coyle. A Girls’ Project and Some Responses to Lesbianism. Himmelweit. Materialist Feminism. English. Molyneux. Summer 1990 . Bruegel. Ward. On ‘Beyond the Fragments’. Interview with Andrea Dworkin. Nava. Feminist Sexual Politics. Kimble. Austerberry & Watson. Birmingham Feminist History Group. Molyneux. Christine Delphy. On Patriarchy. Heisch. Breitenbach. Snell. Humphries. Morgall Towards a Wages Strategy for Women. Hollibaugh & Rubin Jealousy and Sexual Feminist Review No 35. The Hayward Annual 1978. Queen Elizabeth I. Naish. Nava. Femininity in the 1950s. Women and Power. Clark. Margolis. Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination. Cartoons. Kaluzynska The Family Wage. Women as a Reserve Army of Labour. Board School Reading Books. The Tidy House’. Nurseries in the Second World War. Psychoanalysis. Lee. The Dyke. Davis & Goodall. The Material of Male Power. Writings on Housework. Sayers. Riley. The Ripper and Male Sexuality. The Case for Women’s Studies. Phillips & Taylor. Coward. Women and the Cuban Revolution.BACK ISSUES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Women and Revolution in South Yemen. Murray. Psychoanalysis and Personal Politics. Wilson. Women’s Novels. Wilson. Abortion Politics: a dossier. Martin. New Office Technology and Women. Campaign for Legal & Financial Independence and Rights of Women. Caldwell Women’s Trade Union Conferences. Freud’s Dora. Wilson. Feminist Approach to Housing in Britain. Gender and Education. Disaggregation. Feminist Art Practiee. Barrett & McIntosh Summer Reading. Afshar. Feminists Must Face the Future. Matriarchy Study Group Papers. Sybilla Aleramo. Female Sexuality in Fascist Ideology. Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley. Legislation in Israel. Fresh Horizons. Feminism and the Italian Trade Unions. Caesar. Pollock. Evans. Steedman. O’Rourke. Taylor. Sex and Skill. Yuval-Davis. Women’s Employment in the Third World. Macciocchi. English as a Second Language.

Charles Lesbianism and Women’s Studies. 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 . the Economic Crisis and the British State. Ramazanoglu. Wilson. A Metaphorical Journey. Teaching Women’s Studies at Secondary School. Adamson. Safia Mirza. Radford. Jones. What Do Women Want? Rowbotham. Ethnocentrism and Socialist Feminism. McKluskie The Inevitability of Theory. Sherratt. de Bruijn & Henkes. Interview with Labour Party Feminists.108 FEMINIST REVIEW 12 13 14 15 16 17 Difference. Interior Portraits: Women. Cockburn Women’s Movement and the Labour Party. Bhavnani & Coulson. Finch & Hackney Greenham Groups. The Control of Women’s Labour: The Case of Homeworking. Kirton. Kazi. Campbell. Moi. Female Sexuality and Class. Documents from the Indian Women’s Movement. Martin & Spence. Kelly & Pearson. Epstein & Ellis. Women in the Labour Party 1906–1920. The 150 Hours in Italy. Rich. Nava. Reftiges for Battered Women. Montefiore. Women Studying or Studying Women. Poetry by Riley. The Star Persona of Katharine Hepburn. Family Reform in Socialist States: The Hidden Agenda. CULTURAL POLITICS Writing with Women. Politics of Feminist Research. The Relationship of Women to Pornography. Girls. Caldwell MANY VOICES. Clarke. Womanslaughter in the Criminal Law. Black Women. Gail. Allen & Wolkowitz. Women’s Strike in Holland 1981. Trivedi. The Female Nude in the work of Suzanne Valadon. The Barnard Conference on Sexuality. McRobbie. Women Workers in New Industries in Britain. Anti-Porn: Soft Issue. Thin is the Feminist Issue. Upsetting an Applecart: Difference. Romance Fiction. Gothoskar & Patel. The White Brothel. Feminist Identity and the Poetic Tradition. Some Political Implications of Women’s Involvement in the Miners’ Strike. Glucksmann. Jobs and Glamour. Amos & Parmar. Women and Trade Unions. Rose. Mama. The Pro-family Left in the United States. Kappeler. Trade Unions and Socialist Feminism. ANC Women’s Struggles. Lees & McIntosh. Femininity and its Discontents. Kimble & Unterhalter. Gender. Diamond. Shaila & Pratibha. Rowbotham & McCrindle Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women. Contradictions in Teaching Women’s Studies. Lees. Feminism and the Theatre. Tabrizian. Sadomasochism and Feminism. Patriarchal Criticism and Henry James. Women’s Films. Socialist-Feminism and the Labour Party: Some Experiences from Leeds. Inside and Outside Marriage. Desire and Lesbian Sadomasochism. Seiter. Going Private: The Implications of Privatization for Women’s Work. Asian Women in the Making of History. Steedbtnan. Hard World. Bower. Weir & Wilson. Physiology and the Male Artist. Montgomery. Osborne. ‘Correct Distance’ a photo-text. Gordon & Du Bois. Barrett & McIntosh. Philips. Alexis Hunter. Lomax. Feminism and the Popular Novel of the 1890s. Poetry. Thumim. Women’s Equality and the European Community. France. Betterton. Perrigo. Beechey. Rowan. SOCIALIST-FEMINISM: OUT OF THE BLUE Feminism and Class Politics: A Round-Table Discussion. OUT OF PRINT. Report from Nairobi. Clayton. Wandor. Kappeler. Ideological Politics 1969–72. Ardill & O’Sullivan. Feedback: Feminism and Racism. 1984–85. Homeworking: Time for Change. Dear Linda. Pahl. Gittins. Molyneux. Loughran. Black Lesbian Discussions. European Forum of Socialist-Feminists. Sexual Segregation in the Pottery Industry. Women’s Language and Literature. Feminist Perspectives on Sport. Anthias & Yuval-Davis. Women’s Employment. Barrett. Socialist-Feminists and Greenham. Atkins. New Portraits for Old. Julia Kristeva on Femininity. ONE CHANT: BLACK FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES Challenging Imperial Feminism. Hendessi. Format Photographers. Prisonhouses. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Feminism and ‘The Family’. Kuhn. Hoskyns. O’Sullivan. Sarsby. Fildes. Karen Alexander: Video Worker. Armagh and Feminist Strategy. Caldwell Teaching Film. Feminism and Ideology: The Terms of Women’s Stereotypes. Ethnic and Class Divisions. Graydon. Light. Khomeini’s Teachings on Women. Pointon. Cockpit Gallery & Londonwide Homeworking Group. Coyle. Black women Organizing Autonomously: a collection. Whiteson and Davies. Winship. Hooks. A Girl Needs to Get Street-wise: Magazines for the 1980s. Danger and Pleasure in Nineteenth Century Feminist Sexual Thought. Transforming SocialistFeminism: The Challenge of Racism. Carmen. Phillips & Hurstfield. Afshar.

Bogle. Kitzinger. Gordon. Politics and Contemporary Feminist Fiction. The Dark Continent: Africa as Female Body in Haggard’s Adventure Fiction. Rowbotham. The Politics of Abortion in Nicaragua: Revolutionary Pragmatism—or Feminism in the realm of necessity?. Woodcraft. FEMINISM AND THE THIRD TERM: Women and Income Maintenance. Nava. Painting and Post-Modernism. Feminist Political Organization in Iceland: Some Reflections on the Experience of Kwenna Frambothid. Race and State Responses. ABORTION:THEINTERNATIONALAGENDA: WhateverHappenedto’A Woman’s Right to Choose’?. Melanie Klein. Betcher. Lee. The Politics of Abortion in Australia: Freedom. She’s Gotta Have It: The Representation of Black Female Sexuality on Film. Simmonds. Hillier. Women in the Public Sector. Women and the State: A Conference of Feminist Activists. Bridging the Gap: Glasgow Women’s Support Project. For and Against the European Left: Socialist Feminists Get Organized. Ardill & O’Sullivan. Haug. Power and Control. More than ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’?. Summerskill. Who Will Sing for Theresa?. Brixton Black Women’s Centre: Organizing on Child Sexual Abuse. Schirmer. Currie & Kazi. Coyle. Resisting Amnesia: Feminism. Sex in Schools. Rethinking Feminist Attitudes Towards Mothering. GENDER AND SKILL: Women Homeworkers in Rural Spain. Dyketactics for Difficult Times: A Review of the ‘Homosexuality. Patton. Boushel & Noakes. Psychoanalysis and Feminism. Cleveland and the Press: Outrage and Anxiety in the Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse. Taking the Lid Off: Socialist Feminism in Oxford. Bowlby. Barry. Dominelli & Jonsdottir. Roebuck and Company: A Personal Account. MacLeod & Saraga. Across the Water. Stacey. Bell & Macleod. Spanish Women and the Alton Bill. Boffin. Poems. O’Hara. Sex and Race in the Labour Market. 27 28 29 30 31 32 . Abortion in the Republic of Ireland. New Alliances: Socialist-Feminism in the Eighties. Seizing Time and Making New: Feminist Criticism. Phillips Can Feminism Survive a Third Term?. Loach. Second Thoughtş on the Second Wave. Academic Feminism and the Process of Deradicalization. Agbabi. Gieve. THE PAST BEFORE US: 20 YEARS OF FEMINISM: Slow Change or No Change?: Feminism. Gordon. Other Kinds of Dreams. Berer. Lister. Gallagher. Older Women and Feminism. Szalai. Wolpe. Breugel. The Weary Sons of Freud. Collette. Harriss.Davis. Fact and Fiction: George Egerton and Nellie Shaw. Talpade Mohanty Bedroom Horror: The Fatal Attraction of Intercourse. The Problem With No Name: Re-reading Friedan. Merck. FAMILY SECRETS: CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: Introduction to an Issue: Family Secrets as Public Drama. Islington Social Services: Developing a Policy on Child Sexual Abuse.BACK ISSUES 109 25 26 Difference: A Special Third World Women Issue. Segal. EEOC v. Weir. Violence Against Black Women: Gender. Wood. AIDS: Lessons from the Gay Community. Segal. Adams. Cole. Scott. Coleman Abortion in Hungary. Carers and the Careless. Short Story. Developing a Feminist School Policy on Child Sexual Abuse. ‘Putting Ideas into their Heads’: Advising the Young. Butler. Women and Population Control in China: Issues of Sexuality. Those Who Die for Life Cannot Be Called Dead’: Women and Human Rights Protest in Latin America. Mills Child Sexual Abuse Crisis Lines: Advice for Our British Readers. Ctément. Interview with Diane Abbott. Which Homosexuality?’ Conference. Feminism and the Seductiveness of the ‘Real Event’. Spanish Women’s Abortion Support Group. Barrett. The Concept of Difference. A Case. Doyal. Norwich Consultants on Sexual Violence. Women in Management. Mama. Child Sexual Abuse and the Law. Poem. Church and State. Poems. There’s No Place Like Home: On the Place of Identity in Feminist Politics. Socialism and the Problem of Men. Kelly. What’s in a Name?: Defining Child Sexual Abuse. Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group. Himmelweit. McIntosh. Benn. Claiming Our Status as Experts: Community Organizing. Parmar. Hobsbawm & Macpherson. Lauret Lessons from the Women’s Movement in Europe. WOMEN. Poems. Activism. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. Younger Women and Feminism. Optimism: Interview with Angela Y. Franklin & Stacey CAPITAL. Defending Innocence: Ideologies of Childhood. Stott. Sex in the Summer of’88. Molyneux. Curtis. Sears. Anon. To Be or Not To Be: The Dilemmas of Mothering. Rosenfelt and Stacey. Nazi Feminists?. Bernstein. Challenging the Orthodoxy: Towards a Feminist Theory and Practice. Complexity. Sayers. Lever. Minh-ha. A Lover’s Distance: A Photoessay. Kessler-Harris. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Notes from American History.

‘A Bit On the Side’?: Gender Struggles in South Africa. Lesbian tradition. Beall. Hassim and Todes. Restructuring the Woman Question: Perestroika and Prostitution. Hamer. Blackman and Perry. Talking About It: Homophobia in the Black Community. Fiocchetto The De-eroticization of Women’s Liberation: Social Purity Movements and the Revolutionary Feminism of Sheila Jeffreys. Tobin. Hunt. Mendonça. Dunn. Letter from São Paulo. Mitchell. Lewis. Italy. AIDS and Sexuality An interview with Cindy Patton. Voyages of the Valkyries: Recent Lesbian Pornographic Writing. Light. International Lesbianism: Brazil. PERVERSEPOLITICS:LESBIANISSUES Pat Parker: A tribute. . Class and the Welfare State: The Case of Income Security in Australia. Brimstone. Gomez and Smith. The Pleasure Threshold: Looking at Lesbian Pornography on Film. O’Sullivan Significant Others: Lesbians and Psychoanalytic Therory. Audre Lorde: Vignettes and Mental Conversations. Pittsberg. Charlesworth. Rodrigues. International Archives. ‘Young Bess’: Historical Novels and Growing Up. Israel. Contemporary Indian Feminism. Read. Field. Gorelick. Shaver. Smyth. Archives: The Will to Remember. Ethnic Feminism: Beyond the Pseudo-Pluralists. Cartoon. Ardill and O’Sullivan. Nestle. Mapping: Lesbians.110 FEMINIST REVIEW 33 34 Gender. Lesbianism and the Labour Party. Butch/ Femme Obsessions. Waters. Kumar. Skirting the issue: Lesbian fashion for the 1990s. Madeline Pelletier (1874–1939) The Politics of Sexual Oppression.

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