What does it mean to be a feminist scholar today? To get a sense of the shape of contemporary feminist research, I looked at the last three years of Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Feminist Studies, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and differences. I was especially interested in examining which topics were centrally featured, the methods of analysis and argument that the authors employed, and the usefulness of those methods for our understanding of gender inequity. The best writing in these journals underscore both the intellectual power and the diversity of feminism today. Still, some of this research seems to carry troubling practical and theoretical implications. In addition, as a philosopher concerned with issues of economic justice, I am disappointed that only a small number of articles address the “political economy” of sexism: questions of the distribution of work, income, and wealth.
These four journals share a concern with the nature of women’s “difference” from men and its meaning. They are divided, however, both by the methodological approaches they take to this issue and by their areas of specialization. Broadly speaking, Signs ranges over the widest domain, featuring work from history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and literature, while the authors contributing to Hypatia take an explicitly “philosophical” approach to their topics. differences typically presents authors trained in literary and psychoanalytic theory; in Feminist Studies, historical and literary studies predominate. This division of intellectual labor is, of course, not absolute; some articles inevitably spill over the boundaries of disciplinary domains....
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