Feminism after Postmodernism: Theorising through Practice

By Marysia Zalewski | Go to book overview

4

Postmodernist feminisms and reproductive technologies

Thinking theory through practice

We have a developing feminist theory whose intention is to destabilize.

(Barrett and Phillips, 1992:1)

What is the postmodern feminist story about reproductive technologies? How do feminist theories influenced by the ideas and values of postmodernism help us to think about the practices and implications of reproductive technologies? How will a discussion of these questions assist in challenging the idea that there is a gulf between modernist and postmodernist feminisms? These are the sorts of questions I opened the last chapter with and clearly they need to be asked in this chapter in order to examine what it means to say there is a gulf between modernist and postmodern feminisms.

As I explained in the preface, I am not claiming that there is only one postmodern feminist story (as there isn't one modernist feminist story). Nevertheless, there are certain things that distinguish feminisms inspired by modernism compared to those inspired by postmodernism, as the debate about a gulf indicates. And, of course, it is the significance of those differences that I am interested in exploring in this book. Clearly each group of feminists believes that the differences are significant otherwise the debate between them would not be so emotive, as I discussed in Chapter 2. It's not that modernist and postmodernist feminists are interested in radically opposed things. After all, from the examples and issues in this book, it is obvious that modernist and postmodernist feminists are all interested, in one way or another, in questions about women's bodies in the context of reproductive technologies. It is more the case that those feminists influenced by postmodernism think and theorise about issues in rather different ways to modernist feminists. The question is, does this matter and, if so, how? In order to address that last question, this chapter will follow a similar

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Feminism after Postmodernism: Theorising through Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Gulf 29
  • 3 - Modernist Feminisms and Reproductive Technologies 75
  • 4 - Postmodernist Feminisms and Reproductive Technologies 105
  • 5 - 'Recovering' Feminisms? 128
  • Glossary of Medical Terms 143
  • References 148
  • Index 157
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