Beyond Patriarch: A Class-Based Explanation of Women’s Subordination

In the last five years or so, one of the major challenges to conventional thinking in geography has come from feminism. Feminist scholars have forced many geographers into an uneasy rethinking not only of their ways of seeing and analysing the world, but also into a re-examination of their daily practice in the academy and in the world at large. In the first part of their thought-provoking article in a recent edition of Antipode, Foord and Gregson (1986) have documented the ways in which feminist scholarship has altered the content of our discipline by its contribution to describing and explaining the key features of women’s oppression in different parts of the advanced capitalist world and in other societies. Their survey provides an invaluable record of just how much progress has been made in the last few years. However, it also reveals the difficulties involved in rethinking basic concepts in the context of a rapidly changing debate about the bases of women’s oppression: a debate which of necessity has been held off-stage for most geographers.

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