NEGATIVE - CRITIQUE - FEMINIST CRITIQUE OF PRIVACY 151
ANSWERS TO ESSENTIALISM AND BLACK FEMINISM COUNTER CRITIQUES
WE MUST RISK ESSENTIALISM BECAUSE THE FEMINIST PROJECT IS SO IMPORTANT IN OPENING UP SPACE FOR THOSE WHO ARE EXCLUDED BY THE MALE NORM
Susan Baker, Senior Lecturer in European Social Research at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, 1999; WOMEN AND PUBLIC POLICY: THE SHIFTING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPHERES, "Risking Difference: Reconceptualizing the Boundaries between the Public and Private Spheres," EE2001-hxm p. 2 5
Some feminists hold that conceding any ground to a position that accepts sexual difference, such as a 'women's world view', risks the charge of 'biologism' or 'essential ism'-that is the reinstatement of gender characteristics as timeless and invariant attributes of persons (Davies). The dangers of essentialism are real, Davies argues, because of the purposes for which a difference argument may be used and the ways in which it is likely to be misunderstood. However, she is on the side of those who say that we must risk difference, despite these problems. We risk difference by acknowledging that, as in the masculine way of thinking, femininity is an equally coherent, yet equally partial, world view (Davies).
The Embodied Citizen
Risking difference facilitates the development of a new understanding of citizenship, one that moves away from the view of the citizen as the 'disembodied', but essentially male, individual, to one that builds upon an acceptance of the different characteristics of both male and female. The push to develop a new understanding of citizenship is coming not only from feminists. The limited understanding of politics found in liberal theory has also come under more general stress with the development of the modern state (Jones, 1988, p. 19). This makes the tasks called for by this book all the more urgent: reconceptualizing the relationship between public and private spheres, accepting difference, and creating a new kind of democratic citizenship wherein full citizenship is attained equally by all. The construction of a new understanding of the public-private becomes the fulcrum upon which a new understanding of citizenship is built (Lester, 1997,p.200-202).
THE PUBLIC/PRIVATE DICHOTOMY HURTS BLACK WOMEN THE MOST
Nancy Fraser, Graduate Prof. of Political Science at the New School of Research, 1998; FEMINISM, THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE, "Sex, Lies, and the Public Sphere: Reflections on the Confirmation of Clarence Thomas," EE2OOO-hxm P. 331-2
Yet even that more complicated view is still too simple, because the categories of public and private also have a racial-ethnic dimension. The legacy of American slavery and racism has denied black women even the minimal protections from abuse that white women have occasionally managed to claim, even as their disadvantaged economic position has rendered them more vulnerable to sexual harassment. That same legacy has left black men without white men's privacy rights; and they have sometimes tried to claim those rights in ways that endanger black women. That suggests the need to develop an anti-racist project that does not succeed at black women's expense, one that simultaneously attacks the racial and gender hierarchy embedded in hegemonic understandings of privacy and publicity.
PRIVACY IS A DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION. INTERSECTIONS OF RACE CLASS AND GENDER ARE INSTRUMENTAL IN CREATING THIS DISCOURSE
Louise Marie Roth, "The Right to Privacy Is Political: Power, the Boundary Between Public and Private, and Sexual Harassment," Law and Social Inquiry, Winter, 1999, 24 Law & Soc. Inquiry 45 , EE2001-JGM, P.46-7
The blurriness of the boundary between public and private arises because the public/private distinction is a discursive one. It exists only in the definition of a boundary that marks the distinction. That boundary has shifted during the history of the liberal Anglo-American state. Power, and the interests of the powerful, have influenced how the discourse of public/private is constructed. Power influences how effectively a person can deploy this discourse to define and defend a boundary of privacy from outside interference. The ability to define one's privacy discursively is related to intersecting dimensions of social power such as gender, race, and class. Race and class power intersect with gender to generate differential abilities to define a boundary between public and private identities. My primary focus is gender, but race and class are important intervening factors in constructing the discourse of privacy (Collins 1991).