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Editors' Note and Acknowledgements The Coming of Age of Women's History; or The Irony of "PC" You know you have arrived when everyone in town is talking about you. Although the neoconservative reaction1 to multiculturalism and feminism embodied in the attack on "political correctness" focuses primarily upon affirmative action, auricular reform, and separatism within academia , it does contain within its contentious contours the subject of women's history. No longer can historians of women complain that women's history is isolated, ghettoized, and otherwise ignored by the profession on the grounds that is a "women's thing," not "real history," and irrelevant to the mainstream of history and the intellectual currents of the academy anyhow.2 On the contrary, the concerted attack upon women's history from neoconservatives resoundingly demonstrates that women's history has indeed come of age and can no longer be simply disregarded or subjected to condescension and derision. "Political correctness" was formerly used sarcastically by those on the left to refer to a certain sensitivity to the cultures and commitments of ethnic, racial, and sexual groups which grew out of a desire to encourage a degree of toleration on campus which would permit the flowering of a more inclusive speech. In a brilliant strategical linguistic move in the same league with the slogan, "reverse discrimination," the right has preempted the phrase in an ironic attempt to silence efforts to foster ethnic and racial diversity and gender equality on the nation's campuses by daiming that attentiveness to this sensitivity is tantamount to subversion of the right of free speech. Instead of opening the canon to "other" voices, for example, neoconservatives have their own politically correct position—the restoration of Western European male orthodoxies. Although the right has more papers, journals, and student and faculty caucuses than at any time in the past twenty years, neoconservatives charge that the left is stifling its academic freedom. Women's history is under attack, not just because it is another instance of freeing up "other" voices,3 but also because it is charged with having a point of view and an agenda, thereby violating a crude kind of empiricism called Objectivity which is seen as the core of universalism and thus the basis of scholarship.4 Linda Kerber and Jane De Hart are castigated for espousing the relationship between women's history and a sense of gender which highlights power relationships, thus informing both interpretation and instruction.5 Those instructors who raise issues of justice and power are decried as "political" but not their counterparts who ignore such issues. © 1991 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 3 No. 2 (Fall) 1991 Editors' Note 7 NeoconservatÃ-vists have yet to seriously address Mary Beard's claim that education "has meant the extension to women of men's education in their own history and judgments of themselves___"6 The right refuses to admit that this, too, is the imposition of a partisan position which makes their accusations tantamount to a double standard in this regard. Women's history is being taken seriously because of its rapid growth and early maturity. It is a vibrant, robust field which has become highly visible in the profession. It has been the impetus behind the increase in women in the historical associations and the rise in appointments to history departments. By 1987 women were being hired in beginning tenure-track positions in numbers almost equaling their percentage of doctorates and at salaries similar to men's.7 Clearly, there remain areas of grave concern and major issues to be addressed, but few today would quibble with the statement that women's history has arrived. The attack on "PC" as it relates to women's history is an ironic demonstration of that fact. The Journal of Women's History, in our continuing effort to encourage multiculturalism, is sponsoring the publication of a collection of essays based on two previous special issues on Third World women. Currently in press, Women of the Third World, edited by Cheryl Johnson-Odim and Margaret Strobel, will also include many new articles, giving the volume greater comprehensiveness and making it especially appropriate for courses in this area. From its inception the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 6-9
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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