Current feminist theory in validating women39s own

Not only do we come into conflict with many women in the population at large whose true interests we presume to speak for, we differ profoundly and intractably among ourselves. " Discord characterizes and has characterized feminism within the academy--and outside of it--from the first (see Echols).

Discord undercuts any idea of all women as partaking of one essence, unless quarrelsomeness is part of the essence, as indeed many misogynists do gleefully maintain.

And (to return to Gallop's dichotomy) without granting that boldness is necessarily crudeness, many of us thought that boldness was still very necessary.

Anne Snitow has written that "when basic rights are under attack, liberalism feels necessary again" (27). Some of us have never known a time when basic rights for women have not been under attack.

Put more theoretically, feminist theory constantly analyzes and destabilizes every feminist attempt to ground practice in one definition of woman, while nevertheless clinging to a notion of women as a single group on behalf of whom it is doing its work.

Whether anatomical or linguistic, psychoanalysis excludes women from civilization and its discontents, indeed makes civilization dependent on that exclusion.) Many of us had been severely damaged or at least painfully threatened by psychoanalytic pseudo-explanations that pathologized our intellectual aspirations as penis envy or masculinity complexes.

Many of us had experienced the terrifying reality of father-figures whose need to seduce us far exceeded our desire to seduce them.

For women inspired by the domestic arts of "the mothers," and against a woman's art that regresses to the trivia of painted china and embroidery needles.

For women who gain access to art's inspiration through joining the community of sisters, and against the notion that women who struggle alone reinscribe Romantic images of male genius.

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A collective (although not collectively produced) expression of our feminist dismay appeared in a special issue of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature (1984), reissued in book form as Feminist Issues in Literary Scholarship (Benstock, 1987).

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