vol 11 - 1985

This issue of Feminist Studies addresses two major concerns of feminist thought: the nature, even the existence, of difference between women and men-and among women ourselves-and the relationship for contemporary women between our workplaces and our emotional lives. Two essays here caution against careless assumptions about the existence of cognitive differences between women and men. Such assumptions are examined with special care by Joseph Alpers in our lead article, "Sex Differences in Brain Asymmetry," which exposes the biases of scientific thinking about sex differences in the supposedly neutral study of the functions of the brain's right and left hemispheres. Alpers's essay should help all of us in our efforts to counter scientism and the growing faith in so-called scientific rationality about sex differences and sexual preference. Conversely, it should also caution us against an em­phasis on difference uninformed by an understanding of the scien­tific complexities of the concept. Sexual difference is also examined in our Commentary section by a study group whose members analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice. Like Alpers, they are concerned with the potentially antiegalitarian implications of work that valorizes difference. Gilligan's work, they feel, has lent itself too easily to popularization by those wishing to defuse its feminist insights. Both essays help us to understand better how scientific research on difference can be used and abused.

Although we must recognize that the concept of difference has serious dangers, we also know that the assertion of women's difference in specific historical contexts has engendered important forms of autonomous organizing. Martha Ackelsburg's examination of the interwar anarchist organization Mujeres Libres reminds us of the difficulties women have traditionally faced within leftist organizations that pay lip service to the emancipation of women. The specifically feminist demand of Mujeres Libres was the insistence that women must prepare for the revolution by understanding their own oppression. Women leaders fought successfully against male anarchists who refused to see any differences between women's needs and their own; "difference" in this context became an important political issue. Temma Kaplan's study of the socialist origins of International Women's Day points to a similar example of the use of "difference" as a political strategy.



Joseph S. Alper
Sex Differences in Brain Asymmetry:
A Critical Analysis

Leslie W. Rabine
Romance in the Age of Electronics:
Harlequin Enterprises

Lisa Bernstein

Martha A. Ackelsberg
"Separate and Equal"? Mujeres Libres and
Anarchist Strategy for Women's Emancipation

Joyce P. Lindenbaum
The Shattering of an Illusion: The Problem of
Competition in Lesbian Relationships

Toi Derricotte

Yael Braverman Bennegadi

Hortense J. Spillers
Kinship and Resemblances:
Women on Women
(a Review Essay)

Rae Armantrout

Lyn Hejinian

Carolyn Burke
Supposed Persons: Modernist Poetry and the
Female Subject
(a Review Essay)

Judy Auerbach, Linda Blum, Vicki Smith, Christine Williams
Commentary on Gilligan's
In a Different Voice

Temma Kaplan
Commentary on the Socialist Origins of
International Women's Day

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