A feminist I: reflections from academia by Christine Overall

By Christine Overall

Our universities are the locus of ongoing debates over the politics of gender, of sophistication, of drawback and disability—and over the problem of "political correctness." In A Feminist I Christine total bargains wide-ranging reflections from a first-person standpoint on those concerns, and at the politics of the fashionable collage itself. In doing so she continuously returns to underlying epistemological issues. What are our assumptions concerning the ways that wisdom is built? To what measure are our perceptions formed by means of our social roles and identities? long ago new release feminists have led the best way in recognising the significance of such questions, and recognising too the ways that own event could be a useful reference aspect in educational conception and perform. yet reliance on own event is fraught with difficulties; how is one to house tensions among the autobiographical and the analytic? This publication issues tips on how to resolving a few of these tensions, and to fruitfully maintaining others. it's a publication of substantial perception, hot humanity, and real value.

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21 of the "Feminist Perspectives" Series, by the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, March, 1992. I gratefully acknowledge their permission to publish a revised form of it here. I also acknowledge with gratitude the women who gave the paper from which this chapter developed an encouraging reception, in particular those who were present at the 1991 meeting of the Canadian Women's Studies Association, and the reviewers for Criaw's Feminist Perspectives Series. L. Barney Dews and Carolyn Leste Law (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995): 20920.

While I experience role muddles as a feminist mother, friend, and partner, I shall primarily focus here on my role muddles as a feminist academic: that is, as a teacher in the classroom, as a scholar of feminist philosophy, and as a privileged feminist among women more disadvantaged than I. Page 32 Role muddles arise as I attempt to deal with both teaching about feminism and teaching as a feminist, as I do feminist research, and as I encounter feminist political issues on campus. I am compelled to juggle competing demands, expectations, and role requirements generated within the university.

As an academic feminist who is at once engaged with political struggles in the university and committed to scholarly reflection about the meanings of those struggles and their ethical ambiguities, I know that my feminist od[d]yssey is not finished. Page 31 Chapter 2 Role Muddles As feminist writers we know we cannot speak for anyone else: vain, unethical venture. Nor can we ignore or disregard the consequences of our writing. (Livia 1989, 33) Several years ago I wrote a fairly conventional feminist theoretical paper on the dangers and liabilities of setting up isolated individual women as role models in institutions where they almost inevitably experience serious role conflicts and constraints (Overall 1987b).

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