So there are a series of inter-related questions I’m answering in the first chapter of my book.

1. What is women’s culture, as defined by historians and activists
2. How is women’s culture different from cultural feminism
3. Why do the two get conflated.

There has been MUCH ink spilled on this topic, beginning with Echol’s Daring to Be Bad.  To say that this book has been influential in shaping historians’ understandings of radical feminism would be a massive understatement.  The number of books that follow her narrative (that “good” radical feminism was supplanted by “bad” cultural feminism) are too numerous to list here.

Despite its widespread adoption, Still, her conclusions proved controversial from almost the moment of publication. One of the earliest appeared from Australian feminist Denise Thompson, although Katie King’s a few years later became the more influential one.  This is an entire book devoted to refuting her thesis.

Fortunately for me, several people have written about the subject refuting Echols’ on a point by point basis.  My “original” contribution, a requirement for academic scholarship, will be to look at how activist advocates of women’s culture defined and used the concept.  Thus far, the vast majority of commentary looks at feminist authors, who for the most part have not participated in the grassroots women’s movement (the exceptions are Robin Morgan and Susan Brownmiller).

From the archives (my own personal one 🙂

1972 annoncement for the Feminist Studio Workshop (an alternative feminist art program located in the Woman’s Building, a public center for women’s culture).  All emphases added.

“Many of us are struggling to find new ways to express our developing self-knowledge.  The emerginging consciousness of women is and has been outside the ‘mainstraeam” culture, and for this reason the content of our work has been buypassed b inpretations which could not reveal it.  Society is contemptuous of female experience and rejects, devalue or ignores it and its projection as the content of women’s creative activity.  Although women throughout history have expressed their femaleness in their work, that work has not been perceived on its own terms.  It is now time to change the perspectives through which their work and outs is seen.  Only in a an alternative context  can new work be make and an appropriate perspective on women’s work, past andpresent, be developed. 
 “Self knowledge” constitutes an “emerging consciousness,” found through CR, and expressed in their “work” which has “content” derived from “female experience” and “femaleness,”  resulting in “perspectives” that can be understood only within an “alternative context.”  Thus women’s culture was both the process and the product.