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Gayatri Spivak: "Can There Be a Feminist World?"


Public Books has the text of a lecture that Gayatri Spivak recently delivered at the Columbia University Global Center in Amman, Jordan. The lecture touches on gender, the law, and teaching the humanities. Here’s an excerpt:

Whatever we call ourselves in terms of national origin, we must remember that the problem is gender and class. And within class there is still homophobia, heterosexual violence, rape culture, bribe culture. We must remember that much of this comes because of class apartheid in education. Building school buildings, donating textbooks, free education, does not mean much without human commitment to quality. And that work is as focused as teaching at a university in the United States. You do not teach at all the universities in the United States, do you? Therefore, this kind of focus is required. It is more difficult. If you are going to attend to quality among the very poor, below a certain class level, it is not money you need, it is time and skill. Fundraising is not education.

As a feminist, I am not ignoring the possibility of affection between men and women. But this affection, unintended consequence of social bonds, is transformed into the iron law of legitimacy, and becomes a cruel imposition upon the freedom of women’s spirit. Given the powerful work of feminist legal activists, I will say very little here, except once again to emphasize the importance, in this area also, of humanities-style education, imaginative training, the involvement with rearranging desires rather than consciousness raising or public awareness.

Image above: Gayatri Spivak