chapter  6
Responsibility
Pages 24

Th e preceding chapters have shown that understanding feminism entails understanding a variety of multi-sided areas of concern. Furthermore, as attention to these concerns is refi ned and diversifi ed, and interacts with other movements of thought and changing sociopolitical contexts, it reshapes the grounds of concern and produces new complexities and diffi culties. Th is dynamic of shift ing ideas and continuously transforming understandings and practices is nowhere more evident than in the troubled fi eld of sorting out the nature of feminist responsibility. At fi rst sight, it would appear that feminists’ responsibilities lie in understanding the bases of women’s oppression and opposing positions and practices that support or contribute to that oppression. Feminists stand for challenging male bias in socioeconomic opportunities and understandings of embodiment, desire, linguistic usage, knowledgemaking and other conceptual practices. But as we have seen, the work of understanding oppression and its multiple, changing and sometimes ambivalent expressions, along with the complex insights that understanding throws up, is far from straightforward. Women’s oppression and feminist understandings of it do not trace out a neatly bounded terrain but instead draw feminists into a tangled and changing network of interlocking relations of domination and subordination.