By Denise Riley
'A vintage of feminist highbrow historical past. Am I That identify? is a kind of Anglo-American finish of innocence for somebody who attempts to talk of 'women.' Riley makes the notice run, due to the fact she can't make it stand nonetheless. She deals a heritage of ways feminism has confronted its paradoxical core.' - Voice Literary complement crucial interpreting for philosophers, historians, and feminist theorists.' - heritage overview of Books
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Me wprp. 1owecl efficacious grilce by Cod while the rest of mankind dwt'lt in the provenance of concupj::;cenee. li"'! :u. a . J .... t:rc largely unperturbed by the soul, and saw societal arrangements as Custom sensibly sanctioning Nature. This set the terms of the polemic - what was ascri bable to innate differences, and what to the inroads of habit and education. As the possibilities of arguing from the natural democracy of the soul fell away, the associations of 'women' with the natural were magnified to a point of mutual implication.
32 Girls are put at a disadvantage, for, educated apart after the age of six or seven, they lack a training in the classics. Yet even this need not be an insurmountable handicap, for translations abound, most prominently by Dryden. There are enough fine works composed originally in English by poets, critics, moralists, essayists like Locke, dramatists. Yet why, she wonders, are there so few works by women authors, with the honourable exceptions of a few like Mrs Philips and Mrs Behn? Because, she believes, potential women writers may be thwarted at the outset, persuaded by custom never to enquire so far into themselves and their own Abilities, as to bring such a thought into their Heads.
Even their alleged 'conformation of mind', in Harriet Taylor's phrase, might be usefully deployed at one level. while it was denied at others. Certainly, all this was an effect, rather than a strategy. And all of this was heavily dependent on the formulation of the new sphere of 'the social' . .. Both this 'social' and ~women' lean forward, as concepts, into a future which is believed to sustain them. It is as if 'women', who have been erroneously or ignorantly represented, might yet, reconstructed, come into their own.