Friday Feminist – Elizabeth Spelman

Extract 1 in a series of 3: extract 2, extract 3

In the voice of a white/Anglo woman who has been teaching and writing about feminist theory) Feminism is, among other things, a response to the fact that women either have been left out of or included in demeaning and disfiguring ways in what has been an almost exclusively male account of the world. And so while part of what feminists want and demand for women is the right to move and to act in accordance with our own wills and not against them, another part is the desire and insistence that we give our own accounts of these movements and actions. For it matters to us what is said about us, who says it, and to whom it is said: having the opportunity to talk about one’s life, to give an account of it, to interpret it, is integral to leading that life rather than being led through it; hence our distrust of the male monopoly over accounts of women’s lives. To put the same point slightly differently, part of human life, human living, is talking about it, and we can be sure that being silenced in one’s own account of one’s life is a kind of amputation that signals oppression.

Elizabeth V. Spelman, “Have we got a theory for you! Feminist Theory, Cultural Imperialism and the Demand for ‘The Woman’s Voice’ ” by Maria C. Lugones and Elizabeth V. Spelman, in Women’s Studies International Forum, 1983

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