NEGATIVE - CRITIQUE - FEMINIST CRITIQUE OF PRIVACY 147
C AND D EXTWE MUST CRITIQUE PRIVACY FROM FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE
WE MUST HAVE A FEMINIST CRITICISM OF THE PRIVATE SPHERE IN ORDER TO AVOID THE POWER INVOLVED IN DRAWING THE LINE BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
Joan B. Landes, Prof. of Women's Studies and History at Penn State University, 1998; FEMINISM, THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE, "Introduction," EE2001-hxm p. 2-3
In comparison to the intense questioning of private characteristics of the late 1960s and 1970s, repeated reference to the private in the public discourse of the 1990s might almost seem like the 'return of the repressed' . As before, critics and defenders of the body, the family, and the (gendered) person contest for public space. Yet across the political spectrum there is a heightened atten tion to privacy issues. This is not a simple case of the turning of the wheel. Indeed, many who protest vehemently on behalf of the individual are the first to advocate the use of state power to regu late the individual body and to restrict personal freedom. In this atmosphere, feminists have become ever more mindful of the need to safeguard personal identity and the body, while re-valuing the sphere of privacy. This has not meant an abandonment of the political in favour of the private or the forfeiture of a critical per spective on private life, the sine qua non of second-wave feminism. Rather, feminists have shown how the line between public and pri vate is constantly being renegotiated. The most adamant defence of the private, Seyla Benhabib observes, necessarily involves bring ing 'private matters' to public light. Calling attention to the mutual imbrication of public and private life, feminist theorists appre ciate that lines between public and private life have been drawn and will continue to be drawn. However, the very act of description involves power. As Nancy Fraser points out, 'not everyone stands in the same relation to privacy and publicity; some have more power than others to draw and defend the line.' Feminist theorists want to know whether the public/private distinction is universal, how it has emerged with singular force in certain times and places, and, not least, what accounts for the stability and instability of the boundaries that separate these regions of social life. A further complexity concerns the essentializing impulse of so much of what passes for a public discourse on public and private matters. As the readings in this volume attest, the public/ private distinction provides a valuable lens through which to view issues of gender identity, on the one hand, arid feminist politics, on the other.
WE MUST CRITIQUE STATE ACTION FROM A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE
Zillah R. Eisenstein, Prof. at Northeastern University, 1981; THE RADICAL FUTURE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM, EE2001-hxm p. 223-224
When liberal feminists adopt the liberal theory of politics and the state, they are therefore unable to deal with the question of patriarchy as it operates on the state level. As a result of their pluralist view of governmental politics, they have been unable to deal with the question of economic class and racial privilege either. Until feminists are aware of the state's involvement in protecting patriarchy as a system of power, much in the same way as it protects capitalism and racism as systems, feminists will be unable to see why a reform politics, though necessary, is insufficient. A feminist theory of the state is necessary to understand why this is so.