Silences and parodies in the East-West feminist dialogue

Identity as problem

3 February 2006
Only in en
Eastern European feminist discourse is confronted with a dual exclusion: from the Western feminist discourse from which it borrows its terms, and from its own societies, where its foreignness is distrusted. Here, one eastern European feminist describes how her discourse becomes a parody of Western feminism, and how the alienation this produces is compounded by a perceived lack of societal normalcy. In this respect, parody becomes a subversive response to a reality felt to be absurd. But whose interests does this subversion serve?

In the following, I consider feminist identity,1 understood as satisfactory participation by the feminist subject in the respective discursive community, itself understood as “shared knowledge, beliefs, values, and communicative strategies”,2 from the perspective of that community’s membership in a newly enlarged Europe.

The eastern European striving for identity – national identity in the cases of the individual countries – can, among other things, be seen as resistance to identities imposed from outside: the West or the East, depending on the priorities of global politics at the historical moment. Since the early 1990s, eastern Europe appears to have been struggling with an identity paradox. It wants to be like the West, to be part of Europe, to share European structures, to have a European economy; it also wants to be itself, to be something that it was not allowed to be for almost fifty years. In a number of cases, this has turned into a kind of schizophrenic stance, with manifestations such as belligerent nationalisms and other monstrosities.

The appropriation of feminism as identity by some eastern European women seems problematic in an analogous way. The tendency towards feminism seems to be part of the recoil from the Eastern-imposed “socialist-internationalist” identity of the Iron Curtain period, which, since it amounted to little more than a facade hiding imperial hegemony, was parodic in itself.3 Since eastern Europe is once again in a peripheral position, this time with regard to the West, the same parodic mechanism is still at work. There is now the danger that feminist identity will be received in eastern Europe as another of the many parodic facades worn to please the new “Big Brother” – the West. Another aspect, or “layer”, of this potential for parody is that in this case reception is very relative; in fact, most of the reception is rejection (the number of people who accept feminism is negligible in comparison to the number of those who reject it). In addition to this is the general tendency of Bulgarian society to distort or corrupt values imported from outside even more than those inherited from its own past.

I see being a feminist as a way of assuming a subject position, a way of acting, struggling, and participating in the distribution of power on both the personal and social levels. The feminist position can therefore be considered a dissident position. But what does being a dissident mean in a society like ours, which has most of the outward attributes of democracy, plus a lot of “freedom” – and even privileges – for women on paper? There seems to be a connection between the “normalcy”4 of a society and the feminist struggle. In this regard, post-communist society is anything but “normal”. Bulgarian society,5 for example, has been regressing for most of the last fifteen years. The transition has not gone beyond a split economy with at least three levels: the remains of the socialist economy, the accompanying “shadow” or “grey” economy, and the meagre sprouts of a market economy.

The distribution of power is also abnormal. There is a surface, which is more or less visible, while being disproportionately small in comparison to what is happening underneath, away from the public eye. Hypocrisy and demagogy, instead of diminishing, have acquired truly gigantic proportions; because of life’s amorphousness and fluidity, it is hardly possible on any level to tell the real from the sham – an absurd existence that defies generalization, theorization, or definition. For many of us, everyday life seems to take place somewhere between uncertain realities, teetering on the edge of sanity. Almost everything in our society is counterfeit; absurdity is the essence of our lives. (Bulgaria may be an extreme case, but it is certainly not an isolated one.) When we try to speak and write about this reality, to rationalize and even theorize it, the result often approaches parody – the theorizer can hardly predict exactly where the reality will stray from the text. The whole project of attempting to speak about reality can acquire a parodic dimension, intentional or not.

Parody

At the basis of parody there is, according to Linda Hutcheon, “textual doubling”;6 the eastern European experience is pervaded by an “experiential doubling”, where almost every fact of life has a hidden, and more often than not dangerous, undercurrent of meaning. Practically anything one can think of may fail to function according to expectations, to an extent hardly believable outside in the “normal” world. Almost none of this is funny (it is important to emphasize here the potential for humorous effect which groups parody together with other discursive practices such as paradox), yet it often evokes humorous reactions of a self-preserving survivalist nature: “Parody has been used to further a politics of despair”.7 Parody, much like assuming a feminist position, seems to imply the appropriation of power, a gesture of marginality, and a challenge to hierarchies.8 Mikhail Bakhtin looks upon irony – and that can be said to hold true for the whole cluster of discursive practices that rely on detachment and/or doubling – as “a means of overcoming a situation, of rising above it, a means of liberation from deadlock situations”.9 This is what in my opinion makes such practices a suitable approach in a position of powerlessness like that of eastern European women. Although, in our everyday lives, eastern European women may sometimes function as parodists, we are being caught up all the time in the trap of a reality that is actually parody – when we make the mistake of assuming any normalcy on the part of the system. It seems that functioning as parodists is easily transferred to our position in the feminist discursive community. It should be noted that the possibility of parody as regards its eastern European membership seems a potentially fruitful one for the community, in that while “there is a subversive laughter in the pastiche-effect of parodic practices”,10 parody may also contain “a critical dimension in its marking of difference at the heart of similarity”.11

Feminism as identity

The way feminism as identity and self-subjectification is adopted by eastern European women does require problematization. For the purposes of this discussion, I think it unnecessary to go into the identity/subjectivity debates. However, like Judith Butler, I see identity as agency in terms of performativity, while at the same time keeping in mind its potential to work as restriction, as repressive of differences per se, as “repressive closure”.12 I also find Allison Weir’s formulation of the collective feminist identity helpful:

Our collective identity as feminists can be formulated in terms of a collective capacity to interpret and articulate collective needs, to set collective goals, through a continual process of dialogue based on a commitment to the inclusion of all voices. This, of course, depends on an ability to understand language as a medium of shared understanding and dialogue, of the articulation of difference, and not only as a force of deception and oppression.13

“Who are the eastern European feminists?” seems to be a question intricately connected with the fact of their absent “voice(s)” and the necessity for them to borrow, adopt, or appropriate voices to render their reality and experience explicable, and thus to break the silence their marginality imposes on them. Voice in Bahktinian terms is understood as a “discursive marker for [the hero’s] autonomy [author’s italics]; the hero functions with his own discourse, his own voice”.14 Insofar as Bakhtinian theory tends to transcend boundaries between fiction and everyday communication, the connection he makes between autonomy (own voice) and subjectivity (active position) seems relevant here, especially as he implants in his discussion of the fictional “hero” the element of manipulation (by the author15). I am using the term voice for convenience, to indicate a combination of: first, active position, which implies choice, that is, self-subjectification; second, awareness of an identity, of belonging to a discursive community – in this case the feminist one; and third, awareness of the performativity of speaking, which implies looking upon it as a politically important act.

Thus the silences of eastern European feminists and their problematic voices can be seen from a number of different perspectives. Many of these silences are part of a set of inner tensions and contradictions inherent in the notion of “feminisms”, and have to do with the problem of reconciling feminism as a desired (group) identity and eastern Europe as another group identity, both desired and undesired. Such silences disrupt or subvert discourses in ways that are similar to the mechanisms of parody. That which enables this operation seems to be connected, at least in part, with the absurdity dominating our societies, with the fact that what we are living through is – or tries to be – two (or more) historical/cultural epochs: the postmodern and the modern, or post-industrial and early capitalist.

Silences

The silences of the West when talking of eastern Europe seem to a great extent to result from gaps in communication and information: the “Second World”16 is barely transparent from the perspective of the West, for historical (it was “closed’ for the preceding 50 years), technical (such as bad infrastructure), and other reasons. In the East-West feminist dialogue, therefore, talk often needs to be about the eastern European experience – something that is different and important – however, Western commentators barely have a reliable way of either knowing or making out much of it. Added to this is the need to generalize: generalizing seems to add validity, but it can also create parodic effects.

The production of meaning in the interpretation of the eastern European experience is another source of parodic effects. The inevitability of erasing (significant) differences in the process of analysis, while attributing meanings on the basis of limited knowledge, creates favourable conditions for discourses to lapse into parodic practices. Though rarely intentional, this does not in my opinion undermine the legitimacy of using the terms.

There are also the silences of Third World17 feminists in their dialogue with those from the First World: eastern European feminism is absent, despite – or maybe because – of the fact that its presence in the global feminist community deconstructs the convenient First World-Third World dichotomy, with imperialism in between. However, the main concern of Third World feminists, that “the international feminist agenda does not address imperialism”18, seems to some extent to be relevant in the case of eastern Europe, too. The writings of Third World feminists contain arguments pertinent to the centre-margin discussion about feminism, namely, wariness that the West imposes discursive strategies: “Western feminists writing on women in the Third World must be considered in the context of the global hegemony of Western scholarship, in other words the production, publication, distribution, and consumption of information and ideas.”19

The dichotomy “West-Third World” in Chandra Mohanty’s argumentation could easily be replaced with “West-the rest of the world”, but she does not choose to do so. Mohanty also talks about “discourse that sets up its own authorial subjects as the implicit referent, in other words, the yardstick by which to encode and represent cultural others. It is in this move that power is exercised in discourse.”20 Discursive strategies are understood very broadly to include research topics and choice of methodology.21 There is also apprehensiveness about the resulting possibility for misrepresentation. While there is an analogy in the positions of Third and Second World feminists – and women in general, for that matter – there are also differences, the discussion of which goes beyond the scope of this article. Third World Feminists argue for their important differences, and describe their specific experiences, pretending Second World feminists do not exist, while we on our part do very much the same thing. The question, “Why do we pretend not to notice each other?” may not be an easy one to answer.

Then there are the silences of the societies and political elites that have “other priorities” to talk about. Women “are not an issue”. Ironically, this silence has a dubious significance, since “talking” about problems is more often than not seen as the opposite of acting to solve them, especially by those in power, and therefore attributed a kind of negative performativity. We have learned to suspect something fishy in any issue that receives a lot of coverage: those who talk in order to manipulate, politicians and the press in particular, are not trusted or esteemed. A good example would be the way the authorities in Bulgaria handled their obligation to report to the UN on the status of women in 1998. The text of the report was written by a person at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose job has to do with foreign affairs, not with women. Then, women’s organizations were invited for a discussion at such short notice that only very few people could participate. Nevertheless, the participants had some very serious objections to the text. When they insisted on having their proposals and editions included, they were told the report had to be submitted in a few days, and that no further editing was possible. The text, surprisingly after so many years, contained rhetoric familiar from the days of Communism, of the type: “the problems of women are solved, everyone can relax”. Similar rhetoric was used several years later to justify the refusal of those in power to even discuss specific legislation on sex discrimination, with the explanation that the law should only deal with discrimination in general.

More silences are caused by neo-conservative tendencies: traditionalist, nationalist, even religious fundamentalist discourses are dominant on a number of levels in post-communist society. Various stop-gap strategies on the part of the authorities, aimed at underprivileged groups, do not recognize women as disadvantaged in a special way; the absence of gender awareness in these societies implies disregard for the gender aspect of their innumerable social problems.

Our gangster-dominated society is itself a parody of free society, an ironic side effect of openness and liberalism, and one result of this are the West’s attempts to keep us out. Also, Bulgaria is a macho society, with the respective system of values and ways of achieving them, in which the sexism of language pervades spheres much wider than language itself. Women’s self-imposed silences need also to be mentioned here: women themselves have “different priorities”, such as surviving in a civil war, or in a crumbling economy.

The silences of eastern European feminists are in many cases influenced by the necessity for feminism in their respective countries to struggle against a set of negative images. Bulgarian female politicians never miss a chance to declare that they are not feminists, intended to suggest they want no confrontation and should not be considered a threat to men. The implied meaning of feminism appears synonymous with extremism. Also, it tends to be seen as something foreign, imported or borrowed, depending on the perspective.22

Thus the eastern European feminist lives in an environment of silences: enforced, self-imposed, and imagined. The silences, when eastern European women – or feminists – do talk, indicate gaps in the (feminist) discourse. The eastern European feminist usually does not declare her feminist position at home because of the negative images of feminism in society. Neither does she have the language with which to do so – her society or culture “does not speak feminist”, while feminism does not speak “eastern European”.

The missing theory

The virtual absence of a feminist movement in eastern Europe is an important factor for the absence of a specific discourse developed to meet the needs of such a movement. Thus, eastern Europeans tend to talk and write about their experience even when they talk about theory. A typical example: at an international event where the discussion was supposed to address theoretical problems of gender representation in eastern European cultures, 70 of the 90 minutes allotted to the topic were unexpectedly diverted into a heated argument about the significance of the image of the woman on the tractor during socialism.

As the theory in question is mostly “Western”, there is a gap between theory and experience that often remains unfilled. The fact that Western theory is not based on Western experience, but also deeply rooted in it, also needs to be emphasized here. “Speaking feminist” in the national political environment simply does not happen. Furthermore, “speaking feminist” in the national academic community tends to cause problems with acceptability, because of its difference; it is looked upon as politicized and deviant discourse (as opposed to “neutral” and “objective”), and so must overcome resistance. On the other hand, there is undoubtedly a need to implant feminist theory in this context, and serious efforts are devoted to meeting this need across the region.

The cultural specificity of the dominant feminist discourses as an access-limiting factor tends to result in parodic/ironic discursive practices – this is also a consequence of the necessity to “experientialize” the discourse that has already been theorized. Eastern European feminism, instead of developing the natural way – from grass roots (the gradually growing mass social movement) to theory, seems to have reversed the process: by “translating” feminist theory, we hope to help our societies develop gender awareness and everything that comes with it.

As I mentioned, because feminist theory has developed outside eastern Europe, it rarely, or with questionable adequacy, problematizes the specifically eastern European (female) experience, or, for that matter, other “other” experiences. There is always the question, of course, whether there is a specific experience. Ironically, there also arises the question: if there actually is an experience, who is to say it is specific? Who has the representational authority? Is it the people living through it? They have no tools of their own to explain it and need to borrow these from the West. The West has developed the language and the politically determined discursive strategies, the system of talking about female experience, which claims the universality of this experience: feminist theory. Western feminists, however, can have only a vicarious and therefore limited knowledge of the eastern European experience (with some exceptions). So, while both sides are in a position of questionable adequacy where speaking and representational authority is concerned, they are also in a position of questionable legitimacy. Both positions are more-than-one-dimensional, and this affords an impressive multitude of opportunities for displacement (or misplacement) of voices, for ambiguities, ironies, and problematic interpretations.

For example, when eastern European feminists speak “outward” – that is, to the West (and whenever they speak out – outward – they speak [in]to the West, the West is what they look up to, rely on, hope to be integrated into), they assume a representative function. So in many cases they speak/produce texts in a narrative mode, with the purpose to present, inform, show, and fill information gaps. The problem of necessary generalization is important here. Along with generalization come the accompanying potentialities for distortion: “two-speak”; mockery (intentional or not); the playing up – or down – of facts merely to please a particular audience; the personal prejudices or limitations of the speakers/authors; the possibility – and temptation – to present as fact what may be simply opinion; the possibility that with the act of “speaking out”, an eastern European feminist is claiming more power, not only for eastern European feminism, but for herself as well.

In the early 1990s, in one of the first instances I can recall of a Bulgarian feminist speaking out to the West, the speaker put forth the idea that the image of anti-Communism in Bulgaria was a woman. She based her claim on two satirical songs from 1990,23 in which two male authors likened parting with Communism to walking out of a marriage with a hateful nagging wife. The image never surfaced after that, which was understandable, in view of the fact that even the word “Communism” is masculine in Bulgarian (although the word “party” is feminine), not to mention the growth in the awareness, as it receded into the past, of the paternalistic nature of what was referred to as communist society. This was therefore a simple case of excessive generalization. However, it caused a lot of interest on the part of Western feminists, as a result of which, the author got quite a few invitations to various parts of the Western world. The possibility to travel in the West was at that time a very valuable commodity, as for some people it still is, to a great extent, though not so easily earned. I also need to point out in connection with this example the parodic potential of such situations: the ironically dubious image of gullible Westerners, and that of crafty eastern Europeans who capitalize on the information gaps.

Perhaps I should also mention here that in writing this text I cannot help realizing that I seem to be myself an example in support of my own point. I am very keenly aware of the rapid widening of differences between the eastern European countries, and there is therefore a possibility that I may be distorting facts. Sometimes I can see a distortion as I am making it, yet I choose to leave it the way it is, especially if it suits my discursive purposes at that moment. What I, as a relative novice and outsider in feminism, say, may, for all I know, sound absurdly naive or in some other way ridiculous, simply because of the limitations of my English, to people from what I could call “the theoretical feminist establishment”. “Am I producing a parody?” is perhaps not as interesting a question here as “Should I try to do so?” Could the feminist community, the imagined global one, benefit from that? Could a situation like this, or the potential for it, prove to be a vessel where notions such as “legitimacy”, “authority/authorship”, and “establishment”, with their inherent duality of power distribution, dissolve and disappear? If so, will feminists from all countries live happily ever after? If such a harmony were achievable, would it be productive?

Borrowing feminism

In eastern Europe, societies tend to look upon feminism as something borrowed, even where women’s movements have a longer tradition and more public prominence than in Bulgaria. The irony of borrowing is that we need to borrow not only the discourses but the practices of the feminist movement: consciousness raising, gender awareness, etc. Borrowing social practice has proved historically problematic; on the other hand, it is and has been taking place everywhere, and seems to be inherent in the very idea of historical development.

Another consequence of the absent feminist movement in eastern Europe worth mentioning is the “individual feminist” – the eastern European figure of dubious cultural as well as political status, who can be seen as a parodic phenomenon herself, illustrating the oxymoronic cultural blending of an activist without activities, representative without representation, other without same(s), both desired and undesired, different but similar.

She is (I am) something that comes close to Rosi Braidotti’s idea of a “nomadic subject”, in that she can go in or out of her subject position – in or out of her marginality – whenever she chooses to; she has a lot of choice, therefore a lot of power. Ironically, at the same time, she is a “junior” in the establishment, metaphorically speaking she has a big neon “L” sign on her forehead.

Eastern European feminists have difficulties in using the same voice when they are addressing a “home” audience – non-feminist in most cases – and an outside, usually Western – feminist – audience. Thus, they always speak something translated, so there is always the possibility of speaking inadequately, of unsuccessful – potentially parodic – imitation. (Feminist discourse in eastern Europe is also “reflected discourse” in Bakhtinian terms, one that is being implanted/transplanted, in short, imitated with varying degrees of success). When they speak to their own society, they translate the borrowed discourse, while when they speak to “the outside”, they translate the experience: both projects are difficult, not to say impossible. In both cases, the speech is double-voiced, as well as relatively inadequate; the probability of meanings being shifted – or lost, misinterpreted, or mis-rendered – is really very high. Potentially, everything they speak can have a parodic effect, and often does. Parody in Mikhail Bakhtin’s understanding (where Bakhtin is joined by Linda Hutcheon and others) is a double-voiced and vari-directional discourse.24 The eastern European feminist is thus one person speaking as more than one, she has a split identity, which should – for the purposes of overcoming the communication gap – assume a different form when she is speaking to the West, when she is speaking to her own sexist post-Communist society, and when she is speaking to her fellow eastern European feminists. Her discourse has a different (inward-outward) direction each time, and needs to sound different.

The same-other relationship is warped in this case: the foreignness of the eastern European feminist, both at home and in the West, is an additional significant aspect of her marginality. She is a two-faced figure straddling a double margin: that of the East (of her own society) and that of the West. From an eastern European perspective, the West contains the “centre” of feminism somewhere in itself. So she is a double other, desired and rejected, desiring and rejecting in the two directions she is facing. Hers is a double, maybe even multiple, marginality when compared to the positions of Western feminists in their own societies. Her ambiguity – also duality, and maybe even duplicity – is ironic (paradoxical) in its very nature, and therefore has a very interesting subversive constructive/deconstructive potential. She is capable of what Judith Butler calls “subversive repetition within signifying practices”,25 and is in the position to “repeat, redeploy and […] contest the philosophical grammar by which [her identity] is both enabled and restricted”.26

Like the functioning of parody in texts/contexts, and its essence as manipulation of stereotypes, the two-sided operation of this phenomenon in the late 1990s can be seen as deconstructive while serving to construct the “health” of the feminist community, which could prove to be vital if it can prosper from diversity. The potential subversiveness of eastern European marginalities may thus result in productive developments in feminism both as social practice and theoretical discourse.

Subversion/deconstruction is what can be expected to occur (it usually does) on the boundaries between marginality and “centrality”, and, likewise, on the boundaries between “serious” and parodic discourse – if there are any. The question of its desirability is perhaps worth mentioning: Is subversion wanted by the subverters – in this case, eastern European feminists? Is it useful for them in any political way? Such a question can hardly be answered unequivocally, as much of this subversion seems unintentional, spontaneous – most people are not aware of it. The logical further question of how they could profit from it at this point, except by obtaining a distinctive voice, also seems an uneasy one.

A further interesting question is whether subversion is useful for the “establishment”, the target of subversion. This seems more likely: the fact of its occurrence indicates the vitality of the community, and can be seen as a sign of development. The subversion of solidarity has to be constructive of alternative solidarities, otherwise the community may disintegrate. The irony in this case is that one can hardly observe on the horizon any alternative groups or solidarities springing up in eastern Europe.

The problem of how to generalize without generalizing, how to analyze without involving power relations, or how to justify deliberate blindness to them, does not seem to have found a solution in feminist cultural theory. In the writings of Third World feminists, the potential for (cultural) imperialism on the part of Western feminism(s) has met a lot of anxious recognition and indignant criticism, but that amounts to nothing much more than appeals to analyze the experiences (of Third World women) only against the background of their specificity: at the level of the separate national, religious, or cultural community, even at the local level. Let it be hoped that eastern Europe will take a different direction in its negotiation of an important place in the global feminist community.

  1. For the purposes of this discussion I place the emphasis on the concept of identity as a matter of subjective choice.
  2. Linda Hutcheon, Irony's Edge: the Theory and Politics of Irony, London 1994, 91.
  3. Here and further on I focus on a discursive, rather than aesthetic, aspect of parody: its duplicitous, double-voiced, double-faced nature. Dictionary definitions of parody point out two main elements: a) "copying the style", ridicule, intention to amuse; b) weak and unsuccessful -- or exaggerated imitation. Even though I am aware of the importance of such elements as intentionality and/or mockery in the mechanism of parody, I think that they are not always necessary. A parodic effect can -- and often does -- appear where it was not wanted. The element of intentionality (mockery) can be added or taken out at will by whoever chooses to interpret a situation as parodic; this is a possibility I sometimes take advantage of to disregard that element in my discussion.
  4. Here I am using the term "normal" in a way that has been very widespread in the political discourse in eastern Europe since the perestroika of the late 1980s; it usually envisages the political stability and material prosperity of the West.
  5. Most of my comments on eastern European societies are, naturally, based on my experience of Bulgaria. I am aware of the differences between the different eastern European societies and the danger of generalizing, but I am also aware of something I would call diverse similitude, which enables me to take the risk and hope for the best. On one hand, I am part of a tendency in doing this; this fact is itself worthy of attention. On the other hand, I have good reason for being self-conscious about it: there is no way, really, of drawing the line between commonalities and differences in the eastern European experience, but if one insists on talking about experiences, one must face the relativistic quicksand.
  6. Hutcheon, op. cit. 4.
  7. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, London 1993, 146.
  8. Parody also works in this respect in ways similar to other ironic practices, eg satire and pastiche. I have sometimes taken the liberty to use the terms interchangeably, mostly because of the similarities in the effects produced.
  9. Mikhail Bakhtin, Estetika slovesnogo tvorchestva [The Aesthetics of Verbal Creation], Moscow 1979, 279.
  10. Butler, op. cit. 146.
  11. Hutcheon, op. cit. 4.
  12. Alison Weir, Sacrificial Logics: Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity, London 1996, 123.
  13. Ibid. 132.
  14. Bakhtin, op. cit. 289.
  15. The issue of "authorship of the discourse" in the feminist community is also relevant here.
  16. During Socialism, it was taken for granted that if the "First World" contained the developed capitalist countries, and the "Third World", the developing ones, the Socialist world should be located somewhere in between.
  17. The mutual "obliviousness" of Third World feminists to eastern Europe and vice versa is from a theoretical perspective deserving of special attention -- and another text.
  18. Cheryl Johnson-Odim, "Common Themes, Different Contexts: Third World Women and Feminism", in: Chandra Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres (eds.), Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, Bloomington/Indianapolis 1991, 315-327, 316; see also Chandra Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses", in: ibid., 51-80. Amrita Basu, "Introduction", in: Amrita Basu and C. Elizabeth McGrory (eds.), The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women's Movements in Global Perspective, Boulder 1995, 1-21.
  19. Mohanty, op. cit. 55.
  20. Mohanty, ibid. 55.
  21. See Marnia Lazreg, "Feminism and Difference: the Perils of Writing as a Woman on Women in Algeria", in: Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox-Keller (eds.), Conflicts in Feminism, London 1990, 81-102.
  22. An interesting indicator is the way in which the term gender is borrowed in a transliterated form in Bulgarian public discourses, in particular that of the politicians and people in authority. This borrowing is done under the pressure of international institutions -- the UN, the European Union -- and whenever the term surfaces in the public/political space, the fact of this pressure is emphasized, the implication of its foreignness looms large and thus enhances the conviction that gender issues -- and talking about them -- are something imported, foreign to our reality.
  23. At that time, some pop musicians, swept with the euphoria of the huge rallies, or maybe just giving vent to their own long-suppressed anti-communist feelings, wrote songs and performed them in the squares. Some of them became hits first and foremost because of their political message. In the two most popular ones, the male performers contemptuously addressed the Communist Party as a nagging wife they had really had enough of. In one song the man was asking for "one last waltz" (a hint at the coming elections), and in the other -- straightforwardly -- for divorce.
  24. Bakhtin, op. cit. 289.
  25. Butler, op. cit. 146.
  26. Butler, ibid. 146.

Published 3 February 2006

Original in English
First published in L'Homme 1/2005

Contributed by L'Homme
© Ralitsa Muharska/L'Homme Eurozine

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