Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction

Postmodern Feminism

Chapter Summary

Dion Peoples

What we have in Postmodern Feminism is a wide variety of views from a wider source of thought or thoughts. It might be hard to pinpoint just where a writer is coming from when reading a text by someone influenced by these theories. "Postmodern feminists invite each woman who reflects on their writings to become the kind of feminist she wants to be. There is no single formula for being a "good feminist.[1]" Some of the focuses are on otherness, authorship, identity and selfhood[2]...

It is interesting how the author brings up the issue of feminist theory versus the feminist practice, even though the context is pitting one versus the other, noting that the authors are good in theory, and mentioning little of the practice of feminism. Our author wants us to differentiate between unique thoughts and those that are borrowed from more famous writers of various theories.

Some questions to be answered in this chapter are:

Answered in a nutshell: if a woman can stand back and assess the norms, values and practices that the dominant culture is imposing, then in this position women can hold the advantage. By being defeated, one can see what is wrong with society, and bark against the machine that created the catalyst for the sufferings of females. Yet this is supposed to be transcended, as indeed over 2,500 years ago, as we find in the Samyutta Nikaya, Chapter 5 in the Bhikkunisamyutta - "Connected Discourses with Bhikkhuni's" where the female Arahant Soma defeats the evil Mara. Mara tries to break her concentration by saying a woman cannot succeed. She replies in verse: "What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily, As one sees correctly into Dhamma, One to whom it may occur, `I am a man, or I am a woman' - is fit for Mara to address.

Here in the Tradition of Theravada, the Way of the Elders, we find the true Dhamma, we find that women can indeed attain liberation once freed from sexuality.

As far as taking the deconstructionalist view[3]: breaking down the excluded, shunned, frozen out, disadvantaged, unprivileged, rejected, unwanted, abandoned, dislocated, and marginalized people of society - these characters are seeking with a critical attitude to change the face of all that is before us as the "highest" class of primates. These people are seeking to unify the "self" with time and space - creating a self-identity, a characteristic that is absent in an Arahant. Those who are of the Theravada tradition understand that there is to be no self in the doctrine of liberation as promulgated by Lord Buddha. We find that this delusioned group finds solace in the notion of the self being split between the conscious and unconscious realms and call this a truth by manipulating or overusing language as their weapon - note the active theory, not actual practice! I will note that in the Abhidhammattha Sangaha (Abhidhamma) we can learn and realize that the clinging to the doctrine of self is the adaptation of personality view - identifying with materiality, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. The clinging to sense pleasures is a manifestation of greed and wrong view.[4]

Then the chapter takes an awkward twist into the absurd by presenting the idea that when a child is born the mother is the object of attention (no problem here) and then later breaks away, if male towards a stronger attachment with the father. The female child strengthens her bond with the mother. The ludicrous notion of castration and retreating into the mother for some other type of connection is beyond comprehension to me, and borderline insanity on the part of the author's twisted delusions. The being torn away from the mother and into force bondage with the father through language...I just don't, and can't comprehend this illustration of "psychosexual drama[5]".

The author makes it known that me write in an oppressive style that burdens the reader and is too rigid. Her argument (and predictably mentioned) is that women spend their scribing efforts on gradual awakenings, personal discoveries, the complexity of their bodies and erotic areas...later to mention that lesbian and autoerotic explorations are acceptable, that women let their words just flow freely, where ever she wants them to go[6] either driven orally, anally or vocally as well as gestation. Desire (greed/lust in a Buddhist sense) drives the woman.

It is written in our texts that with the casting away of masculinity, females can indulge in lesbian and autoerotic practices, and that this is the way to displace the phallus, to attain liberation from oppressive male domination[7]. Science has even made it possible to conceive without sperm. What is left for the eradication of men from the planet?

It is interesting that the writer Kristeva mentions that there are male and female sexual differences, but this author is not the first to mention them. The Buddha mentions 5 sufferings of the female as[8]:

It then is important to note that when these conditions are finished or never entered upon, that the path the women, the way to attain her liberation, can be completed. Women should overcome the sexual differences themselves. If men help them - then this was only possible through aid, demonstrating the incapability of some women to attain the goal themselves.

There are various "strong" women" types to use as an example, some can get ahead by being an opportunist.

She states by the exclusion of the "other" sex that the "higher" class of primates have impoverished the human community[9]. My conclusion to the summary is that once females can overcome the defeated tag, the oppressive society tag - working together, organized as a power, women can take the country into their own hands, but choose not to do so. Men cannot be faulted for this. There are choices to make. Feminists choose to be driven by greed, hatred or delusion - causing more problems by the misguided and underdeveloped theories. Women need to practice the power before they can attain the power, and it is the fact that they are disorganized as a group, that they will not succeed.

[1] Rosemarie Putnam Tong, Feminist Thought - A More Comprehensive Introduction. (Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado) 1998 p. 193.
[2] Collect from statements on page 194.
[3] Ibid, p. 195.
[4] Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. Abhidhammattha Sangaha - A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, The Philosophical Psychology of Buddhism. (Buddhist Publication Society: Seattle, Washington) 1999. From various pages in the 7th chapter.
[5] Rosemarie Putnam Tong, Feminist Thought - A More Comprehensive Introduction. (Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado) 1998 p. 197.
[6] Largely influenced by pages 200-201...
[7] Bottom of page 203.
[8] As found in the SAMYUTTA NIKAYA, Chapter III: Sutta 37 - Matugamasamyutta
[9] Rosemarie Putnam Tong, Feminist Thought - A More Comprehensive Introduction. (Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado) 1998 p. 210.