Revaluing Female Voices
One of the difficulties in discussing what Walkerdine (1988) refers to as the ‘mastery of reason’ is its very hegemony. We are steeped in a tradition in which to be human is to be rational (Gatens, 1991), in which decontextualized knowledge is seen as the most important, the most powerful, and where a particular image of the nature of knowledge constrains even what can be said about it. As Foucault (1988) suggests:
It is not enough to say that science is a set of procedures by which propositions may be falsified, errors demonstrated, myths demystified, etc. Science also exercises power: it is, literally, a power that forces you to say certain things, if you are not to be disqualified, not only as being wrong, but, more seriously than that, as being a charlatan, (p. 107)
You are likely to find this chapter, particularly the opening sections, difficult to read. It is also difficult to write. The terms we have for the alternatives to ‘rational’—‘non-rational’, ‘emotional’, ‘contextualized’—carry within them a
power relation which positions them negatively with regard to reason itself. The power relation is contained within the words, it affects us almost without us noticing; to write against reason seems almost to be an absurdity. I shall attempt to show that this challenge is not absurd at all, and that we even have the language to make it.