vol 20 - 1994

In this issue of Feminist Studies, scholars and creative artists explore in multiple ways the question of agency and the limits and possibilities of both individual and collective resistance. We begin with Monique Deveaux's nuanced critical reading of Michel Foucault. Her exploration of feminist understandings of power, violence, resistance, and identity constructively engages Foucault's analyses of regulatory regimes, bodies, and the exercise of power. In a cautionary analysis, Deveaux argues that Foucault's models of power, although instructive, obscure many women's subjective experiences. Embracing his call to deconstruct our social identities, she critiques Foucault's treatment of sexual self-understanding as an incomplete rendering of the processes by which women are empowered. Deveaux's concluding argument challenges feminist appropriations of Foucauldian perspectives on power and the subject.

Whereas Deveaux affirms the potentialities of identity-based feminist struggle, Lorna Weir's essay challenges the assumption that identity-based politics define contemporary feminist activism. Weir's history of Canadian prochoice organizing reveals the vitality of a feminist political campaign that worked beyond "identity politics" to challenge the regulatory power of criminal law. Canadian organizers developed a working-class alliance that avoided class reductionism and generated a strategic political discourse that embraced women from several different communities.

Taking a more general look at egalitarian feminist organizations, Stephanie Riger asks how such groups are able to remain important sites for feminist movement and women's empowerment under pressures of growth. Through case studies, interviews, and published descriptions, Riger compels a rethinking of our assumptions about feminist organizations. She suggests that hierarchy and bureaucracy are not intrinsically antithetical to feminist principles and proposes alternative ways for organizations to advance.


Order this issue (print)


Order this issue (print)

Monique Deveaux
Feminism and Empowerment:
A Critical Reading of Foucault

Loma Weir
Left Popular Politics in Canadian Feminist
Abortion Organizing, 1982-1991

Stephanie Riger
Challenges of Success: Stages of Growth in
Feminist Organizations

Olivia Gude and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
Two Women on the Street (Art Essay)

John Hutton
Picking Fruit: Mary Cassatt's Modern Woman
and the Woman's Building of 1893

Margaret W. Ferguson
Moderation and Its Discontents:
Recent Work on Renaissance Women
(Review Essay)

David Lunde, Translator
Chinese Poems from the Six Dynasties
and Sung Periods

Vivien Ng
Sexual Abuse of Daughters-in-Law in
Qing China: Cases from the
Xing'an huilan

Jane Hoppen
Trying to Return (Personal Narrative)

Cathleen M. Calbert
Erasing the Music Box; Dream Babies (Poetry)

Down Up
Down Down