Limited Edition: Voices of Women, Voices of Feminism // Review

Article excerpt

In her introduction, Geraldine Finn characterizes the collection as one by feminist activists, teachers and students of Women's Studies who "speak about their own experiences of feminism and the difference feminism has made and continues to make to their public and private lives" (p. 1). She is careful to point out that the authors do not necessarily espouse shared beliefs about the world, but that they do share the standpoint of women. This standpoint reflects a common situation of exclusion and subordination in a social world ordered and divided by sex. She acknowledges that a serious limitation is the absence in the book of the many voices of women who do not have positions of privilege in our society, but hopes that this will "not prevent us from hearing the voices that are present in the text..."(p.9).

The book is organized into four parts, each consisting of an introduction and five to seven essays. The sections are entitled The Politics of the Personal: Image and Reality, The Politics of Science: Keeping Women in Their Place, The Politics of Knowledge: Feminism Makes a Difference, and The Politics of Feminism: Am I That Woman? These titles emphasize feminism's insistence on making the connection between the personal and the political, as Finn says "connecting what has traditionally been regarded as women's 'personal' pain and the political context within which it is organized; between the quality of what has been called women's 'private' life in the family, and the institutions and ideologies of the public world which determine it" (p.12).

A wide range of topics are covered in each of the four sections. The section on the politics of the personal, for example, starts off with an article by Joanna Dean written while she was a full-time mother and housewife as an attempt to bring the voices of women at home into the Canadian women's movement, and ends with one by Peggy Kelly on her experiences as a female technician in the broadcasting industry. Articles in between look at the role of the nurse, religious metaphor, and popular music.

In Section 2, writer Heather Menzies' article deconstructs her experiences in writing her groundbreaking work on women and technology. Of her experiences she writes, "In the end, I adapted myself completely to the established technology--largely simply by having adapted to its language--for establishing knowledge in the official discourse. I stripped away all references to context and absolvedor 'abolished' all agency" (p.130). The rest of the section has articles on the feminist challenge to political science, women and the economy, sexism and science, and ends with an essay by geographer Suzanne Mackenzie in which she discusses "one woman's attempt to trace some of the ways in which environments have interacted with women's lives, some of the conflicts which the contemporary city poses for women, and some of the ways in which women have responded to these conflicts" (p.190).

In Section 3 on the politics of knowledge, educator Pamela Sachs' article on literature and Women's Studies provides a review of the feminist critique of literature framed by some of her life as well as teaching experiences. Other topics in the section include women in Quebec literature, psychoanalysis and feminism, reflections on sexuality and sport, women's experience in sport and physical activity, a feminist in sociology, and social work practice. …

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