Woman Herself: A transdisciplinary perspective on women’s identity
Oxford University Press, 304 pp, $22.50 pb
‘This has been a difficult book to write ... It has become more than the Women’s Studies text it was intended to be: it is my statement on the oppression of women and our passionate resistance to it. It is a contribution to feminist revolutionary change, written in the hope that it will bring women closer to our Selves and to other women, the personal and the political embracing, empowering us to create a world where women’s oppression can be taught as history, not lived daily in bone and flesh.’
I am sure it was a difficult book to write: the issues are extremely complex, the transdisciplinary range of the areas covered extensive and detailed, and the finished product extremely succinct and presented with an admirable clarity. Yet throughout, the passionate commitment to the task of making women’s oppression visible, readable, audible, indeed refusing to let it not be seen, read and heard modulates, in a specifically feminine voice, the social science genre of expository prose and factual representation which Rowland, as writing subject, adopts from her particular institutionalised position as both woman and writer of a Women’s Studies text. And her text is in other ways too, a realisation of her feminist and feminine commitment to this cause. The materials she uses to support her expository arguments, her evidence/facts/data, are for the most part Australian and her reference list and footnotes, those academic appendages of the genres of originally masculine knowledgeconstruction, refer mainly to women writers, many of them Australian. Thus are the structures of patriarchal ways of knowing subverted in and through this feminist re-making of the generic structures and knowledges of the social sciences themselves.