Identity Politics in the Women's Movement

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In recent years, identity has come to be seen as a process rather than a fact or deterministic force. Yet, recognizable identity traits continue to draw people together and provide them with a sense of empowering commonality. Although the plasticity afforded identity has freed up rigid definitions and guidelines for affiliation, some believe that nebulous demarcations of identity may deprive women of a solid position from which to effectively contest centers of power.
Bringing together articles by well-known authors and theorists such as Audre Lourde, June Jordan, Daphne Patai, Barbara Smith, Marilyn Frye, Shane Phelan, Leila J. Rupp, Hazel Carby, and Adrienne Rich with lesser-known writers and scholars, this broad-based anthology ranges widely from personal narratives to empirical research. The book unpacks issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and age, contributing a mélange of sharp, lively perspectives to current debate.
In a postmodern era of feminism, how do women come to identify, organize and mobilize themselves within a complex global network of relationships? Identity Politics in the Women's Movement offers critical examination of the inescapable role of identity in academic and activist feminism and the opportunities, challenges and conflicts identity politics pose.

Author Biography: Barbara Ryan is Professor of Sociology and Director of Women's Studies at Widener University.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In what might seem an overcrowded marketplace of books on the politics of identity, Barbara Ryan has assembled an essential collection of papers that broadly construct the basic arguments of similarity and difference dividing and uniting women. Identity Politics in the Women's Movement illustrates the difficulties as well as the rewards of finding a basis for solidarity while honoring the inequalities inherent in women's multiple identities."

-Carol Mueller,Arizona State University, Winner Susan Koppelman Award for Excellence, 2001

"This lively, well-edited collection of papers offers an excellent introduction to many of the issues and interests at stake."

-The European Legacy

"Critical examination of the role of identity in academic and activist feminism."

-Women's Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814774793
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Ryan is Professor of Sociology and Director of Women's Studies at Widener University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Identity Politics: The Past, the Present, and the Future 1
Pt. I The Problem: Questions and Challenges
1 The Politics of Difference 19
2 The Anti-Politics of Identity 23
3 The Fate of the Commons 35
4 The Struggle for Feminist Purity Threatens the Goals of Feminism 39
5 Identity Politics and Progress: Don't Fence Me In (or Out) 43
6 On Whose Behalf? Feminist Ideology and Dilemmas of Constituency 47
Pt. II Claiming an Identity
7 The Black Feminist Statement 59
8 Who Am I If I'm Not My Father's Daughter? A Southerner Confronts Racism and Anti-Semitism 67
9 "We Are Who You Are": Feminism and Disability 71
10 Becoming the Third Wave 78
11 The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action 81
Pt. III Multiple Identities
12 Presenting the Blue Goddess: Toward a Bicultural Asian-American Feminist Agenda 87
13 Sex Radical Politics, Sex-Positive Feminist Thought, and Whore Stigma 92
14 I Brake for Feminists: Debates and Divisions within Women's Studies 103
15 Changing the Subject: Male Feminism, Class Identity, and the Politics of Location 109
16 Report from the Bahamas 120
Pt. IV Womanist/Black Feminist Perspectives
17 Black Women's Collectivist Movement Organizations: Their Struggles during the "Doldrums" 129
18 Introduction to Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology 146
19 The Occult of True Black Womanhood: Critical Demeanor and Black Feminist Studies 163
20 ink: black on white 178
Pt. V Deconstructing Sex and Gender
21 The Strange Case of Jackie East: When Identities Collide 183
22 Differences and Identities: Feminism and the Albuquerque Lesbian Community 197
23 Lesbian Community: Heterodox Congregation 208
24 Messages of Exclusion: Gender, Movements, and Symbolic Boundaries 211
25 Seventies Questions for Nineties Women 227
Pt. VI Lessons on Inclusiveness
26 Challenging Imperialism in International Women's Organizations, 1888-1945 245
27 Organizing International Women's Day in the Niagara Peninsula 261
28 Sharing Power: A Latina in NOW 271
29 A Writing Spider Tries Again: From Separatist to Coalitional Identity Politics 277
30 "Look at the World through Women's Eyes": On Empathy and International Civil Society 291
Pt. VII Building a Movement for the Twenty-First Century
31 Rethinking Identity Politics 307
32 Our Difference Is Our Strength 315
33 Having It All: The Search for Identity and Community 320
34 If Not with Others, How? 334
35 What Is Difficult Can Be Done at Once. What Is Impossible Takes a Little Longer: The Beijing Conference 339
Contributors 346
Index 353
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