Re: radical feminism/cultural feminism

Rachel Barrett Martin (
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 22:33:29 -0400


In message

My thinking is
> that radical feminism embraced the idea that the 'personal is political',
> while cultural feminists did not stress that

My initial response is that I find the construction of this radical-cultural
shift, for example in Alice Echols' _Daring to Be Bad_, somehow unsatisfying.
First of all, it marginalizes the relationship between counter/Movement culture
and radical feminism (and correspondingly depoliticizes the expressive critique
of cultural feminism). Secondly, it repeats the semiotic struggles of early
seventies' ideology wars (litmus tests?) without advancing the analytic concepts
to some critical distance from the historical actors' perspectives and

> To the extent that you can blame one incident for a vast change in
> ideology, what are your opinions on blaming the shift from radical
> feminism to cultural feminism on the Roe v. Wade decision.
> Roe v. Wade and its rejection of personal is political by focusing on the
> right to privacy as opposed to right to choice would seem to signal the
> end of personal is political and, consequently, radical feminism.

Doesn't the above characterization cede too much "credit" to the youthful wing
of feminism in a) both shaping the legal basis of the court's decision and b)
shaping the popular abortion-rights discourse? There were some "Janes," and some
Los Angeles Women's Health Clinics, but at least in Minneapolis, the abortion
clinics today are staffed by women who fought for legal abortions in mainstream
politics, clerical and medical organizations. While its true that one of our
"radicals" is now a wonderful Progressive and people-based state legislator,
another from the 1970s -- a "leader" -- is married to one of the Lake
most extremist right wing conservative politicians, Alan (sp?) Quist. In other
words, I guess I think its more complicated than your (the literature's?)
polarity allows for.
> Jeff Kosiorek

Rachel Barrett Martin
Department of History/Program in Composition
University of Minnesota

.. Once in a while you get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right ...