Toward a collective rhetoric rooted in choice: Consciousness raising in the Boston Women’s health book collective’s ourselves and our children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Contemporary feminists struggle over “choice.” A central demand of the second wave, some feminists insist on the continued significance of choice to their activism and theorizing; others are critical of the term, arguing that an emphasis on choice diverts attention from political issues and blames women for the oppressions they experience. The tension at the root of this debate is echoed in feminist theorizing about consciousness raising. In her germinal essay “The Rhetoric of Women’s Liberation: An Oxymoron,” Campbell argues that through consciousness raising, feminists illuminated the political underpinnings of women’s personal problems and prompted collective activism aimed at finding structural solutions to those problems, all the while affirming the centrality of choice to women’s lives. What Campbell left unstated, however, is how a process based in choice will promote a political, collective response. In this essay, I offer an analysis of the 1978 volume Ourselves and Our Children, arguing that the consciousness raising modeled therein illuminates broad patterns of political oppression, urges a collective response to those oppressions, and embraces choice. Based in a recognition of the synecdochic nature of the “personal is political” adage, this analysis offers insights into feminist debates over choice and resolves a lacuna in theorizing about consciousness raising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-256
Number of pages22
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Volume104
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018

Keywords

  • Collective rhetoric
  • Consciousness raising
  • Feminism
  • Second wave
  • Synecdoche

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