Men in Feminism

Men in Feminism

Men in Feminism

Men in Feminism


The first substantial attempt to produce a dialogue between feminists and their male allies, this collection of essays assesses the benefits or disadvantages of male participation in feminism.


This book has its most immediate beginnings in two sessions conducted at the Modern Language Association meetings in Washington, D.C., December 1984. Sponsored by the Society for Critical Exchange (SCE) at the instigation of James Sosnoski, SCE’s director, these sessions were organized by Paul Smith and were intended to produce a dialogue between male and female academics around the question of “Men in Feminism.” This project has many beginnings, of course, but was most directly dictated by a couple of specific circumstances.

First, the two editors and another contributor, Rosi Braidotti, were engaged in a correspondence about an article by Smith, “A Question of Feminine Identity.” Discussion of that article directly involved consideration of the fact that the current work of a considerable number of male intellectuals in the humanities is consciously employing and deploying feminist thought and feminist theory. Some of this correspondence will be found in Alice Jardine’s essay in this volume, while its more general effect was to have helped suggest the topic for the MLA sessions.

At about the same time, Smith was guest-editing an issue of The Dalhousie Review which was to include Stephen Heath’s “Male Feminism,” which begins this volume. That text was made available before the MLA to all seven session participants, as were drafts of papers by Ross and Smith. The first of the two sessions then consisted of papers by Ross, Smith, and Heath while the second session consisted of “responses” by Mayne, Weed, Jardine, and Kamuf; all are included here. The title of the sessions—provocative not just for its general topic, but perhaps even more for its use of the word “in”—was the product of conversations between Smith and Kamuf, and Smith and Sosnoski.

The dialogue that was begun at the MLA sessions provoked a certain amount of interest and even caused some little controversy. Several people who had heard the papers suggested that they be edited into a book along with other contributions. Smith was originally reluctant to do this work and asked Jardine if she would be interested in taking on such a task. Jardine agreed on the condition that the book be coedited. Once that was agreed upon we began to draw up a list of possible contributors.

At first we both felt, in our different ways, that the question of “men in feminism” was a relatively unpromising one. It seemed in a very real sense elitist and narrow, of interest only within the often somewhat insulated corridors of academia. One indication of this was the fact that we had trouble locating intellectuals, who, having shown

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