Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction

By Rosemarie Putnam Tong | Go to book overview

Conclusion:
Margins and Centers

THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK has been to highlight some of the main perspectives in feminist thought, without providing reasons for preferring one feminist perspective over all the others. This is not to suggest that readers will not find some schools of feminist thought more convincing than others. For example, I am personally attracted both to those forms of feminism that describe where women currently are--at the margins and on the periphery--and to those forms of feminism that describe where women could be--in the center. It is enormously appealing to be an outsider--to be uncorrupted by the system, to see and feel what other people do not see and feel, to be free of tight constraints and unnecessary restraints. But it is equally appealing to be an insider--to be a valued member of the team, to share a common vision, to have, as Aristotle said, "partners in virtue and friends in action."1

At the end of the first edition of this book, I wrote that I regarded socialist feminism as the most inclusive form of feminism, since it showed how the forces of sexism and classism interlock in a capitalist patriarchy and how woman's estate is determined by both her reproductive and productive role. What I did not notice ten years ago, however, was the extent to which socialist feminism did not emphasize issues related to racism, colonialism, and naturism. For this reason, I now think that ecofeminism is the most inclusive form of feminism, particularly the socialist-transformative ecofeminism of Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva. Thanks to them, I now understand the extent to which all systems and structures of oppression interlock, reinforcing each other and feeding off of each other's venom.

In a similar manner, ten years ago I thought that the margins of feminist thought were populated most exclusively by postmodern feminists-- that they were the voice of difference, that they were feminism's best protection against permitting the "standpoint of woman" to degenerate into yet another instantiation of the phallus or logos. I now realize the multi-

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