thought that this corrective provides the proper answer to the hesitations I've advanced here about 'women'. But this is not the same preoccupation. Indeed there is a world of helpful difference between making claims in the name of an annoyingly generalized 'women' and doing so in the name of, say, 'elderly Cantonese women living in Soho'. Any study of sexual consolidations, of the differing metaphorical weightings of 'women', would have to be alerted to the refinements of age, trade, ethnicity, and exile, but it would not be satisfied by them. However, the specifications of difference are elaborated, they still come to rest on 'women', and it is the isolation of this last which is in question.
It's not that a new slogan for feminism is being proposed here-- of feminism without 'women'. Rather, the suggestion is that 'women' is a simultaneous foundation of and an irritant to feminism, and that this is constitutionally so. It is true that the trade-off for the myriad namings of 'women' by politics, sociologies, policies, and psychologies is that at this cost 'women' do, sometimes, become a force to be reckoned with. But the caveat remains: the risky elements to the processes of alignment in sexed ranks are never far away, and the very collectivity which distinguishes you may also be wielded, even unintentionally, against you. Not just against you as an individual, that is, but against you as a social being with needs and attributions. The dangerous intimacy between subjectification and subjection needs careful calibration. There is, as we have repeatedly learned, no fluent trajectory from feminism to a truly sexually democratic humanism; there is no easy passage from 'women' to 'humanity'. The study of the historical development and precipitations of these sexed abstractions will help to make sense of why not. That is how Desdemona's anguished question, 'Am I that name?', may be transposed into a more hopeful light.