Who is Feminism For?
The seemingly uncontroversial idea that feminism is synonymous with “the women’s movement”—i.e., that feminism is “for women”—has in fact never been widely accepted, least of all among feminists. From the beginning, comradely holes have been poked in feminism’s myriad attempts to define itself, not to mention the word “woman.” For centuries, feminists have debated: what does feminism encompass? Who is feminism for?
In this course, we’ll enter that debate, unpacking questions of feminism’s purpose, scope, and possible limits. Along the way, we will consider conflicting conceptions of feminism: that feminism is for “Woman”; that feminism is for colonized, lesbian and working women (and children); that feminism is for “everyone”; finally, that feminism is for “no one” (i.e., feminism is for abolishing itself). We will read selections from First- and Second Wave feminist classics—for example, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique—as well as contemporaneous and current Black radical, womanist and transfeminist criticisms and counterexamples. Our investigation will move towards accounts of feminism that, while still placing its focus on “women,” define the constituency of feminist struggle as both more specific and much broader: for instance, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, environmental, and family-abolitionist. We will, equally, engage with articulations of feminism as a movement against structures of oppression that adversely affect everyone: man or woman, able-bodied or disabled, migrant, indigene, citizen, or settler, straight or queer, white, black, trans or cis, etc. Finally, we will consider texts that seek to transcend feminism altogether.
Assigned readings are likely to include excerpts from texts by Flora Tristan, Maria Mies, Sojourner Truth, Shulamith Firestone, Maria Lugones, Holly Lewis, Emma Heaney, Jules Joanne Gleeson, and Marquis Bey, among others.
Course ScheduleSunday, 3:00-6:00pm EST
May 09 — May 30, 2021
Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.