The Two Camps
Posted by Marie-Bernadette on July 04, 1998 at 02:14:45:
In response to Splitting the difference, written by Erin on July 03, 1998 at 00:58:40
(Snipped) Wollstonecraft is a radical feminist, in that she insists that there is no essential difference between the genders; and that what is possible for men should also be the case for women. HOWEVER, she is a conservative Enlightenment thinker, a pure rationalist, simply supplementing the term 'woman' for 'man', implying that the genders are identical ...
] Austen, on the other hand, implies a distinction between the state of being 'equal' and being 'identical'. In Austen, gender is clearly defined, yet can we not say that Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy co-exist on equal, but distinct levels? Each a Master in his/her own right?
I like the way that you stated this, Erin, and I think that it is fascinating to contrast these two women. Today, I see two distinct 'camps' of feminists and it is much as you mentioned above- one camp tries to attain equality by "supplementing the term 'woman' for 'man'" and pretending the sexes are exactly the same while the other maintains a "different but equal" outlook which implies that the sexes are important despite these differences. To me, the first camp ultimately ends up devaluing "womens' work" and womens' traditional roles (including child bearing, midwifery, &c.) are deemed unimportant. In the "different but equal" view, I think that the contributions of both sexes are seen as valid and complimentary. Personally, I am a mix of both, as I try to balance Reason and Emotion, but lately have been listing more toward the "different but equal" group.
This also caught my attention because it shows that these two types of feminism have been around for a while and did not just spontaneously generate from the 1960's civil rights movement. How long have we had this division? How wonderful to be able to peer into the past at these two women and try to see in what manner we reflect their thoughts and ideas today.
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