Conclusions — Reading to Belie the Binary
In her 1971 book Woman’s Estate, Juliet Mitchell notes how the liberationist potential of the existentialism considered in Chapter 3 and the designated ‘Sixties themes’ in Chapter 4 had yet to be politically realised at her time of writing. The influx of cultural value into feminine qualities such as subjectivity and empathy, she claims, promised feminists much towards a social re-evaluation of women themselves: ‘that these female values were appropriated by male radicals initially gave women hope within these movements. But when they found even here, where their oppressed characteristics seemed to be the order of the day, they played a secondary (to be generous) role, righteous resentment was rampant’ (175). For all their aspiration, the male-authored texts of the English 1950s, 60s and 70s considered in this study confirm that such resentment was justifiably rampant. It was, of course, to a great extent, the ‘righteous resentment’ at this arrested cultural and social development that fuelled feminism in the following years. Its radical and comprehensive deconstruction of masculine epistemology, and the misogynist ontology that sought to naturalise it, both inspired and was inspired by the simultaneous development of critiques of its colonialism, racism and heterosexism. Together, these critiques systematically deconstructed that most grandiose of masculine narratives — History.
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