The author's acknowledgment of the difficulties of writing about
postmodernism from a feminist perspective does not in itself remove them. Other
books provide more insight, with less jargon, to the struggle between feminism
and postmodernism (2). Lather's book is an example of the "perils of
postmodernism": she is so focused on criticizing varying theories and
discussing the division of theory from practice, that she leaves a lot of
questions about her project and her women students unanswered. She seldom
simply "lets the situation speak", but frequently interrupts her narrative with
theories and counter theories.
The book is a cautionary tale, illustrating the difficulties of
feminist praxis when it becomes entangled "with/in" a predominantly
male-oriented intellectual tradition. As a survivor of higher education who has
gone through considerable pain in the process, I appreciate the questions she
raises. Ultimately, I was disappointed that she remained firmly fixed in an
academic and theoretical framework.
Norma Lundberg survived a
doctoral program at the School of Library and Information Science at the
University of Western Ontario. She now earns a living as a proofreader for
Micromedia Publishing, spends some time as a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for
Women's Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and serves
on the board of CCLOW.
- Morris, Meaghan. The
Pirate's Fiancée: Feminism Reading, Post Modernism. London: Verso,
- For example: Chris Weedon,
Feminist Practice / Post-Structural Theory, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987;
Jane Flax, Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Postmodernism
in the Contemporary West, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990;
Linda Hutcheon, The Politics of Postmodernism, London: Routledge, 1989;
and Ben Agger. The Decline of Discourse: Reading, Writing and Resistance in
Postmodern Capitalism. New York: The Palmer Press, 1990.
35 IN THE BACKSEAT (IN REVERSE)
Drunk on wine and wanting, their houses full
of sleeping obligations, they hasten to the backseat of his car pursuing stolen
satiation. And the plot thickens predictably, the windows all a-rime with
steam; they move toward the obligatory scene when, suddenly, he leaps back to
the driver's seat chanting a complex liturgy replete with abstract nouns:
fidelity, morality, honesty ADULT -tery! Like a boy-scout taking his oath, or a
recent convert fearful of perdition, he continues with his rendition while
shaking hands fumble for the keys, jam the right one into the ignition and
shift to drive.
Still in the back, her engine's flooded, her
brain stalled. She sees it all as mirror-image déjà vu. All those
backseat boys the agonies she put them through while she kept a closed knee on
the subject of her prized virginity.
Should she try their lines on him? Beg softly
and say she can't walk away, she'll d-i-e, or failing that claim that she will
maim his reputation, brand him a.c.t.?
With age comes sense and humor, fortunately.
She leans back laughing uproariously all the way home. And all the way, through
his rearview, he eyes her suspiciously; suspecting she is near hysteria,
failing entirely to see that he is the punch line to an old, old joke she
finally got quite belatedly!