The concept of women’s culture emerged from activists in women’s liberation, was expanded on by feminist scholars, and became discredited during largely academic debates in the 1980s.
The Women’s Culture Wars begins with the flourishing cultural activities of feminists in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston in the late 1960s to explore how different grassroots groups understood the relationship of culture to movements for women’s liberation. Producing, disseminating, and enjoying women’s culture often bound activists together and provided a common ground on which grassroots theorizing occurred. This endeavor involved black women from the very beginning, but their important critiques of the implicit whiteness of the concept of women’s culture in the late 1970s, overlapped with the first academic critiques of the concept as essentialists. These twin accusations became intertwined in academic discourses of women’s culture, which was increasingly viewed as dangerous. In the late 1970s, the rise of the new right, the growth of a feminist anti-pornography movement and the Sears v. EEOC case all provided compelig support for this position. At the same time US feminism shifted from a movement of community activists to a profession within academia. Women’s culture gave way to something now labeled cultural feminism, an ideological position rather than a praxis. The Women’s Culture Wars traces how the critique known as cultural feminism overtook women’s culture, in the process erasing the common ground it created, ignoring the important participation by many women of color, and discrediting the contributions grassroots theorists made to the flourishing fields of feminist criticism in the academy.
A note on Writing in Public . This work-in-progress manuscript is experiment in making visible the processes by which history making takes place. This Commentpress enabled site invites reader contributions, criticisms, or other forms of engagement. To comment on the manuscript, click on the typographical ¶ mark to the left of the paragraphs. A comment box will appear in the right sidebar. At times the spam filters on commentpress become overly tight. Do not worry if your comment is tagged as spam! I will retrieve it.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Because this is a work-in-progress, the writing is at times messy and incomplete. Links may be broken and footnotes may go missing. The search bar in the left menu may help at times.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 The evolution of the book project from 2013 onward can be viewed under Book Pre 2016. I rebooted as The Women’s Culture Wars: From Women’s Culture to Cultural Feminism in October of 2016.