chapter  four
17 Pages

Difference and Domination in the Women’s Movement: The Dialectic of Theory and Practice

WithNancy C.M. Hartsock

Feminist recognition of the importance and use of Difference to construct domination took the form of a series of practical efforts to prevent the construction of Difference within the women’s movement and, thereby, to prevent domination. Separatism allowed the creation of women’s communities, women’s spaces, and women’s culture. Despite the prominence of arguments that the women’s movement has always consisted of white middle-class women, the Furies, like many feminist organizations, had a number of members from poor and working-class backgrounds. The existence of class differences among women, then, served the double purpose of exposing the daily workings of capitalist patriarchy and of helping feminists learn to oppose it. The feminist theory of power as energy and ability is uncomfortably close to Adrienne Rich’s description of one of the traditional ways women’s power has been experienced—as energy looking for objects into which to pour itself, even sometimes a demonic possession.