G L O R I A B O W L E S
Afterword: Continuity and Change in Women’s Studies
Women’s Studies on Its Own o√ers a survey of Women’s Studies at the
dawn of the twenty-first century. We have been in constant confrontation
with our institutions, which often question the validity of our new field.
This volume, written by several generations of scholars, shows that, de-
spite opposition, every kind of Women’s Studies is going on in this world.
Since I left teaching in the mid-1980s, Women’s Studies has gone
deeper with its questions. We thought the study of women would be a
temporary phase; eventually we would all go back to our disciplines. I
remember the day in 1977 when I said in lecture, ‘‘Women, we’’ and
asked myself in a flash, ‘‘Women, we: Who am I talking about?’’ Early on
we recognized the narrowness of our original conceptions. I looked for
articles on Black, Native American, and Chinese women in the United
States and found few; I asked the three untenured women in those fields
at Berkeley to lecture in my classes. Together we came upon strains of
similarity but also large di√erences in the lives of women. This is work
still to be done, as Rachel Lee’s splendid essay shows.
When I joined the editorial board of Women’s Studies International
Forum in 1980, another level of discovery commenced. ‘‘Feminism’’ was
not a shared word or idea; women around the world, no matter their lot,
were strategizing to improve life for themselves and their families. Here
was a more nuanced view of woman’s resistance. ‘‘Women in develop-
ment’’ was getting a bad name; the U.S. government and the interna-
tional agencies it dominated often contributed, knowingly or not, to the
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