To the Editor:
We must disagree with Carol Iannone’s article, “What Moderate Feminists?” [June], on two grounds. First of all, she suggests that our book, Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies, assumes that there was a golden age of feminism that then turned to lead. But our book (which focuses strictly on feminism in the academy) makes the opposite argument: that the problems evident in women’s-studies programs are the inevitable result of the effort to use the university as a political staging ground. We say that this commitment, which is in constant tension with the goals of a liberal education, was present from the start, and it is this, and its results, that we criticize.
But we must also take issue with Miss Iannone’s use of Betty Friedan’s admittedly hyperbolic rhetoric to blast all of feminism. Every political movement engages in excesses—but few complex movements are judged entirely by those excesses, as Miss Iannone has chosen to do here. Readers may not know from her representation of our book that we believe feminism has made important contributions in both scholarship and educational reform. We even believe there are good women’s-studies teachers responsibly doing their jobs (despite pressures from women’s studies not to do so). We say as much in our book.
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