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CULTURE AND FEMINIST THEORY: AN ARMENIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE (RACISM, ETHNICITY)

ARLENE VOSKI AVAKIAN, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

Women's Studies uncovers women's experience as well as critiques the content and methodologies of the disciplines in an attempt to correct the neglect and/or distortion of women's experience historically as well as in the present. This feminist critique asks fundamental questions about the ways that knowledge has been collected, analyzed and synthesized. Arguing that women's experience is omitted and/or distorted the resulting analysis is not an accurate representation of the human experience, feminist scholars in all areas of inquiry have begun to develop new methodologies. Feminist theoreticians have developed theoretical frameworks within which women's experience can be accurately analyzed.^ While much of this work is of great value to all scholarship, it is also limited by its failure to incorporate the lives of all groups of women within its theoretical constructs. The three major strands of feminist theory: radical, reformist and socialist, neglect issues of race and culture while basing their theories within the assumptions of their own race and culture. The resulting frameworks, then, are necessarily inadequate to analyze the lives of women who fall outside the hegemony.^ Afro-American Third World women have criticized accurately feminist theory for excluding their lives. This study broadens that critique to include white ethnic women. Using the vehicle of autobiography, it presents a challenge to feminist theory. While that theory does address some issues in my life and the lives of other Armenian-American women, other issues of crucial importance are totally neglected. Thus, the analysis of our lives can only be distorted if the frameworks of feminist theory are used. The study also questions the accuracy of the analysis of the lives of women of the dominant group if the theory does not address issues of race and culture. The failure of feminist theory to recognize the relative power of women in the dominant group and to bring that reality into their analyses results in a partial theory which distorts all women's lives. ^

Subject Area

Women's studies

Recommended Citation

AVAKIAN, ARLENE VOSKI, "CULTURE AND FEMINIST THEORY: AN ARMENIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE (RACISM, ETHNICITY)" (1985). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8517078.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI8517078

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