The State of Women's Studies, 1973, page 1

Download: Transcript

Pages:2 3 4 View All

Show transcript

A §ax&«;1hovg.«’r: mike Twjéfcll U5meu's gudfeo Cflfiuua aT'

You've probably already seen the cncloscd (from this week's
Voice). I am sending it to illustrate the point that

there are many differing conceptions of what Women's
Studies is or should be. For example, at Richmond it is
clear that Women's Studies is not considered to be, as Kate
and Annette stated, separate from the Women's Movement.

Is it then possible to hold a conference on the established
intellectual foundations of Women's Studies? Also, I
caught a hint, in what Annette and Suzanne were saying,

of an intention or desire to render Women's Studies at
Barnard respectable to Columbia. This is the old
legitimacy—via—the—approval-of-men route: it is bound

to be destructive to the growth of a lively and autonomous
field of study.

Underlying all this is the deep political question: is the
Women's Movement reformist or revolutionary? If Women's
Studies is to be, after all, only another department like
American Studies, then the impact of it is limited. Hence

if the focus of the conference is to be questions that the field,
Women's Studies, raises, one of the questions is: the
relation of Women's Studies to the Women's fiovement.

Another is, Women's Studies and the University; and another
is, Women's Studies in relation to traditional disciplines.
After all, hasn't "academic" always meant "male"? Aren't
detachment, objectivity, the statistical, uninvolved approach
to data of traditional and modern academic fields, the
epitome of male culture as it has been transmitted in
American universities?

In other words, the conception of a purely academic or
"straight" conference on Women's Studies is not an over-
view of the state of the art, but rather, a statement,
and a position on what Women's Studies ought to be. As
such, it is bound to be furiously contested and/or
boycotted by many Movement women.


Hester Eisenstein
June 22, 1973