Feminism, Family, and Community

Feminism, Family, and Community

must write a piece on feminism, family, and community. I write as someone who has been involved in the politics of the feminist movement since the early 1960s, someone who characterizes her own work as made possible in part by the intellectual ferment feminism has generated. But, as I begin, I find that the image of a strong woman, my grandmother, supplants all other visions, wipes out abstract ideologies and theoretical models. I see her instructing her grandchildren in the crafts that create things of beauty and utility to provide envelopes for our bodies, warmth for our beds, and food for our tables. I mark her pride and her intensity, her conviction that she has lived a good and a productive life. I know that what keeps the fires of her life burning is the drive to pass her heritage of wisdom, piety, and goodness on to her great-grandchildren. That my grandmother’s image emerges so powerfully is appropriate. For the need to write this piece derives from my discontent with the way “the family” has been treated in much feminist and radical argumentation since the 1960s, and with the way “community,” while celebrated, has remained mostly an empty term—for there is no way to create real communities out of an aggregate of “freely” choosing adults.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels