vol 29 - 2003

Although Feminist Studies did not set out to greet the 1980s with a thematic issue, this one seemed to shape itself just in time. The kindredness of the contributions published here springs, in part, from their shared concern with several related subjects—the origins of contemporary feminist consciousness, the implications of the crisis in modern family life, and the consequences of a politics of personal life. But an equally significant aspect of the unpremeditated unity of this issue is less tangible. It is a spirit of tough-minded tolerance, rather new to feminist discourse. The authors and poets in the following pages demonstrate a courageous willingness to plumb the painful, personal depths of our women's movement. They shed emerging dogmas, entertain unwelcome thoughts, and renew discussion of subjects too long shrouded in feminist taboos or blocked by political divisions. In these pages, for example, feminist writers reexamine our relationship to the Old Left and the New Left, to the civil rights movement, and to both black and white Southern women. Here too the subject of heterosexual feminism resurfaces, one of the major "closet" issues of our movement that was moth-balled prematurely by the wellintentioned discretion of those who survived lesbian/straight discord. Debts and scars alike are acknowledged by the contributors to this issue, who evidence a healthy disrespect for the boundaries that divide scholarly and political pursuits.

This Feminist Studies issue embarks upon a new and sophisticated round of consciousness-raising among feminists. Indeed, consciousness-raising is explicitly proposed by Barbara Haber who asks, "Is personal life still a political issue?" Her essay, based on a talk she delivered to the inaugural session of the west coast Marxist-Feminist Conference Group, claims that feminists have abandoned a politics of personal life. She offers a provocative analysis of the sources and implications of our current paralysis and suggests that the very social dislocation that helped create feminist consciousness and politics now has stymied their further development among heterosexual women. Haber urges feminists to return to a radical critique of the conventional nuclear family, but one based on a deeper, more compassionate awareness of the emotional needs which this critique lays bare.



Barbara Haber
Is Personal Life Still a Political Issue?

Ellen Kay Trimberger
Women in the Old and New Left:
The Evolution of a Politics of Personal Life

Peggy Dennis
A Response to Ellen Kay Trimberger's Essay,
"Women in the Old and New Left"

Jayne Cortez
Big Fine Woman From Ruleville

Sonia Sanchez
Kwa Mama Zetu Waliotuzaa

Mary Aickin Rothschild
White Women Volunteers
in the Freedom Summers: Their Life
and Work in a Movement for Social Change

Wini Breines
A Review Essay: Sara Evans's Personal Politics

Jackie Ferrara, Lila Katzen, Athena Tacha
Three Women Sculptors

Estelle Freedman
Separatism as Strategy:
Female Institution Building
and American Feminism, 1870-1930

Joan Manheimer
Murderous Mothers: The Problem of Parenting
in the Victorian Novel

Lee R. Edwards
Flights of Angels: Varieties of a Fictional Paradigm

Mary Jane Lupton
Ladies' Entrance: Women and Bars

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