Bookshelf: The Creation of Feminist Consciousness

It’s March, ya’ll. That means it’s time to celebrate Women’s History Month. I have always been intrigued by women’s history – I love learning about women who have done outrageous acts and paved the way for our generation to have the freedoms we have today. I thought that I’d kick off the celebration of Women’s History Month by sharing one of my favorite passages from The Creation of Feminist Consciousness by Gerda Lerner.

. . . [E]ducated women have had to develop their own social networks in order for their thoughts, ideas and work to find audiences and resonance . . . the fact that women were denied knowledge of the existence of Women’s History decisively and negatively affected their intellectual development as a group . . .

This is no trivial point. I believe it marks the very essence of the different relationship men and women have to historical process. Isaac Newton, in his famous aphorism . . . “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” expressed the mode by which the thought of men was shaped into the major concepts of Western civilization. Men created written history and benefited from the transmittal of knowledge from one generation to the other, so that each great thinker could “stand on the shoulders of giants” . . . Women were denied knowledge of their history, and thus each woman had to argue as though no woman before her had ever thought or written . . . Since they could not ground their argument in the work of women before them, thinking women of each generation had to waste their time, energy, and talent on constructing their argument anew. Yet, they never abandoned the effort. Generation after generation, in the face of recurrent discontinuties, women thought their way around and out from under patriarchal thought.

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