The Feminist Standpoint Revisited and Other Essays

The Feminist Standpoint Revisited and Other Essays

The Feminist Standpoint Revisited and Other Essays

The Feminist Standpoint Revisited and Other Essays

Synopsis

For over twenty years Nancy Hartsock has been a powerful voice in the effort to forge a feminism sophisticated & strong enough to make a difference in the real world of powerful political & economic forces. This volume collects her most important writings, offering her current thinking about this period in the development of feminist political economy & presenting an important new paper, "The Feminist Standpoint Revisited."

Excerpt

I never set out to become a feminist theorist. Indeed, when I set out to become a political theorist, such a choice was impossible because feminist theory in anything like its present form did not exist. Nor did I set out to become (in whatever sense I have become) a Marxist, since in terms of my graduate education, that possibility too did not exist. In looking over the essays that I have chosen to reprint I find myself asking how it happened. Each of these essays grew out of and responded to questions that arose from the social contexts in which I found myself. I am reminded of Jane Flax's thought on her own history: It "was pure luck from my individual point of view that the women's movement emerged when it did. What would have happened had I been ten years older?" There are many "what ifs" involved in the writing of these essays.

As I reflect on these essays, which span a period of twenty years, I am struck with the extent to which they are autobiographical in that they respond to issues I found urgent at different times. In this regard, my work is no different than that of other political theorists: Every social context poses questions for those who inhabit it, construct it, and are in turn constructed by it. Could Machiavelli have written The Prince or The Discourses in a context where the Roman Republic was not held up as the best possible society, in contrast to the world in which he lived? But I think it is important to remember not only the ways the content and concerns of political theorists express/reflect the questions of the historical moments in which they were written. These essays were written in the context of a series of feminist communities concerned with both reading and writing about issues such as these and using what we were learning to bring about change--in fact, massive social change. These pieces are of course my own, and their limitations are mine as well. Still, in writing them I was responding to the concerns of many women of my generation who, like myself, were committed to feminist goals. As a result, I see feminist theory as a collective political practice. As the communities that they were written both among and for changed over the years, so did the questions. For example, as feminist theory moved solidly into the academy, questions rooted in academic disciplines became more prominent.

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