4 Yale J.L. & Feminism 35 (1991-1992)
Enough Said

handle is hein.journals/yjfem4 and id is 41 raw text is: Enough Said
Deborah L. Rhodet
I should begin by acknowledging that I spent far more time constructing,
deconstructing, and reconstructing my brief comments for this panel than for
any similar presentation. The reason, I suspect, has much to do with issues
of difference that are central to this Conference and to feminism more
generally. My discomfort reflects the sense of being something of an outsider.
This is not, of course, my first experience of that kind. But what makes this
experience different is the nature of my difference. I had the sense that in this
company I'd be a token not of some subordinate or marginalized
group-women, left, academic-but of the mainstream-white, heterosexual,
economically privileged, and blonde to boot. For the first time that I can
recall, my response was a conscious search for something safe to say. As I
discovered myself pulling together favorite quotes from favorite authors-many
sitting in this room-I was struck by the pointlessness of the enterprise. It may
well be that in many contexts where I am a token of a different sort it would
make sense to preach to the unconverted with texts from hooks, MacKinnon,
Matsuda, Romany, Williams, and others here.' But for this audience that
strategy didn't seem likely to advance the conversation.
Yet all the obvious alternatives seemed much more risky. Of what exactly
are you afraid? I asked myself nonrhetorically. If getting it wrong is the
problem, then that's getting in the way of getting anything at all. And maybe,
I thought, we should talk about that.
So I will, briefly. What seems to be plaguing some of our theorizing and
much of our practice is an unwillingness to engage critically with our
aspirations or anxieties about difference. We aren't advancing the conversation
because we'd rather not have it. Even broaching the topic I've identified
carries obvious risks. It threatens to decenter the dialogue and once again focus
not on the needs of subordinate groups but on the concerns of the privileged
t  Deborah L. Rhode is a Professor of Law at Stanford University. This piece is a close adaptation
of the speech she gave at the Conference, Feminism in the 90s: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and
Practice, for the panel on Broadening the Definition of Feminism. The comments of Regina Austin, Angela
Harris, bell hooks, and Celina Romany are gratefully acknowledged.
1. A representative sample would include: Kimberlt W. Crenshaw, Race, Reform, and Retrenchment:
Transformation and Legitimation in AntiDiscrimination Law, 101 HARV. L. REV. 1331 (1988); BELL
HOOKS, AIN'T I A WOMAN?: BLACK WOMEN AND FEMINISM (1981); TALKING BACK: THINKING FEMINIST,
THINKING BLACK (1989); CATHARINE A. MACKINNON, FEMINISM UNMODIFIED (1987); TOWARD A
FEMINIST THEORY OF THE STATE (1989); Mari J. Matsuda, When the First Quail Calls: Multiple
Consciousness as Jurisprudential Method, 11 WOMEN'S RTs. L. REP. 7 (1989); Patricia J. Williams,
Alchemical Notes: Reconstructed Ideals from Deconstructed Rights, 22 HARv. C.R.-C.L. L. REV. 401
(1987); See also sources cited infra notes 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11.
Copyright © 1991 by the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism

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