Jezik, rod, razlika: konstrukcija/dekonstrukcija identiteta u (post)feminističkoj teoriji
Language, gender, difference: the construction/deconstruction of identity in (post)feminist theory
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This dissertation starts with the conviction that contemporary feminist theory should not be considered as just one among the current critical theories, but rather as a critical domain where truly significant deconstructions of patriarchal ideology and power have been produced. This theory has also been labeled postfeminist – the reason being that feminist thought can no longer be looked upon as a separate discipline, but a theoretical and political space where theories and practices from other disciplines, and with different agendas, come together and intersect. Also, the prefix ‘post’ is the result of a crisis which began at the moment when the theoretical impulse of psychoanalysis, and then poststructuralism, started to affect the feminist discourse, which, in its turn, has provoked numerous debates, disagreements and even open dissent within the movement. In order to see if feminism can still be used to initiate and promote a truly critical consciousness – now that the political ac...tivism of the first two waves is behind us – we need to determine its position among the current strands of cultural theory, as well as to understand the complex relationship between all these critical theories which have shaped the feminism of today. The task we set was to explore these relations and understand the ways in which these theories have overlapped with feminism, so that it could be possible to define the role of feminism today in a more meaningful and productive way. The conflictual positions within feminism do not let us speak about a coherent theory or the common stand, but rather about multiple theories and opposing positions, which has definitely contributed to both the challenge and the complexity of the task. The history of the feminist thought is a testimony that identity has been the issue of crucial importance from the very beginning, as well as the focus of any serious attempt to critically examine the relationship between culture and the individual, and the particular position that women have been assigned in culture and society. While tracing the development of the feminist understanding of identity, the centre of our critical attention has been the crisis brought about by the so-called linguistic turn which happened around the middle of the twentieth century. It was at this time that, under the influence of Lacanian psychoanalysis and poststructuralism, feminist theorists started to debate the idea of constructionism – as opposed to essentialism. But the crisis brought about by deconstruction, feminism, and postmodernism working together has also proved to be productive for feminist theory. While it is true that this crisis has destabilized the very foundation of the feminist movement – woman being the subject on whose behalf it is supposed to act – it has also helped us understand and define the underlying assumptions of this significant disagreement. The concepts of language, gender and difference occupy the central spot in a theory which has been polarized in this manner, and it was through examining these particular concepts that we were able to understand the meaning and the consequences of the many attempts to either construct or deconstruct the woman and the feminine. A truly feminist stance has actually always required that we put our efforts into constructing an identity which could be politically justified, while striving at the same time to deconstruct a fixed category of the feminine. Since the mainstream of feminist history has been marked by the tendency to use polarized and mutually exclusive modalities of equality and difference, we were able to conclude that this particular choice has not only led us astray, but has also prevented feminist theory from articulating a more appropriate framework which could be used to examine the historical forms of intersection between gender and all the other structures of oppression. Our analysis of opposing perspectives with regard to the issue of identity, and within the framework we have thus articulated, has proved useful in our attempt to shed more light upon the conflicts in the past, and even more so in our attempt to conceive a more meaningful future. It is our conclusion that this future should not take the antihumanist (or posthumanist) turn which some postmodern feminists have advocated, but rather the position that we must not be afraid to call – radical humanism. It is the kind of humanism which should not try to cancel or deny the implications of a discursively constructed subjectivity, but which should also insist upon the individual and collective responsibility for prioritizing a particular set of meanings that – in specific historical and cultural circumstances – become a shaping force for personal and group identities. Deconstructing gender stereotypes which have been used to support patriarchy can still remain a key reference for feminist politics, but the relevance of its connection to the entire social and political framework of power structures needs to be established and made clear. Emphasizing difference as the basic category of identity should not be an obstacle but a meaningful platform for building feminist consciousness – by criticising all forms of cultural, economic, or political inequality as well as promoting solidarity as the most precious legacy of both humanist tradition and feminist thought.