Over time I've stopped being depressed by the lack of feminist accord. I see feminists as stuck with the very indeterminacy I say I long for. This is it then, the life part way in, part way out. One can be recalled to 'woman' anytime--by things as terrible as rape, as trivial as a rude shout on the street--but one can never stay inside 'woman', because it keeps moving. We constantly find ourselves beyond its familiar cover.

Gender markers are being hotly reasserted these days--US defence is called 'standing tough' while the Pope's letter on women calls motherhood woman's true vocation. Yet this very heat is a sign of gender's instabilities. We can clutch aspects of the identity we like, but they often slip away. Modern women experience moments of free fall. How is it for you, there, out in space near me? Different, I know. Yet we share--some with more pleasure, some with more pain--this uncertainty.


Notes
1.
The 'we' problem has no more simple solution than does the divide itself, but in spite of its false promise of unity the 'we' remains politically important. In this piece, 'we' includes anyone who calls herself a feminist, anyone who is actively engaged with the struggles described here.
2.
MARHO Forum, John Jay College, New York, 2 Mar. 1984. For feminist critiques of the new peace activism see Breaching the Peace: A Collection of Radical Feminist Papers ( London: Only women Press, 1983) and Ann Snitow, 'Holding the Line at Greenham', in Mother Jones ( Feb / Mar 1985), 30-47.
3.
Lourdes Beneria and Phyllis Mack began the study group, which was initially funded by the Institute on Women at Rutgers University. Other members were: Dorothy Dinnerstein, Zala Chandler, Carol Cohn, Adrienne Harris, Ynestra King, Rhoda Linton, Sara Ruddick, and Amy Swerdlow.
4.
See Amy Swerdlow, "'Pure Milk, Not Poison: Women Strike for Peace and the Test Ban Treaty of 1963'", in Rocking the Ship of State, 225-37. (This book grew from the study group above.)
5.
Bella Abzug and Mim Kelber, Gender Gap ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984). According to Kelber, Carter was outraged that the women of the commission were criticizing his social priorities; they were supposed to be on his side. Most of the commission resigned when Carter fired Abzug. When he reconstituted the commission somewhat later, the adjective national had been dropped from its name and it became the President's Advisory Commission for Women, with restricted powers and no lobbying function.
6.
'In the United States, we oscillate between participating in, and separating from, organizations and institutions that remain alienating and stubbornly male dominant' ( Joan Kelly, "'The Doubled Vision of Feminist Theory'", in Joan Kelly (ed.), Women, History and Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 55). Also see Denise Riley, War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother ( London: Virago, 1983).

-538-

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