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women

Feminist experience of communal personhood and feminist political and philosophical analyses of social selfhood cohere with women's historical experience of embeddedness in and responsibility for relation. As an extensive literature on women and relation attests, women generally have been denied the luxury of believing in the separate individual ego; we have been forced to know ourselves as dependent and depended on by others (Gilligan; Chodorow; IZeller; Heyward). While much of the literature of relation is based on white middle-class women's experience, the testimony of minority women only expands and deepens this insistence on connection. For many minority women the sense of group solidarity in oppression has been a basic reality of existence (hooks 1984). Under the conditions of patriarchy, women's experience of relation has been distorted by sex, race, and class oppression, and women have been kept from selfdetermination within the web of connection. But this cannot negate the fact that women's relegation to the sphere of relation has kept women alive to a basic dimension of human experience that feminism affirms even as it seeks to transform the material character ofhuman relations.