"On Becoming Educated"
(page 6 of 6)
In graduate school, professors said you had to choose one thing or
the other: you could be a creative writer or a scholar, not both. The
creative writing professors said you had to choose a genre: poetry or
fiction, not both. You could be a feminist professor in a classroom or
a feminist activist on the streets, not both.
It was all too reminiscent of the old divisions long demanded of us:
you must think or feel, not both. You must be a mind or a body, not
both. You can be pretty or smart, not both. You can have a family or a
career. Why did intellectuals in the 1990s continue to invest in such
reductive binaries? Why the urge to bifurcate, to build retaining walls
between the multiple truths of our experience?
They were wrong. It isn't necessary. Today feminists publish
scholarship and creative work. We write for general audiences and
trained specialists in our field. I publish in glossy magazines, and
the local newspaper, and academic journals; I publish scholarly
articles, and poetry, and fiction, and memoir.
For me, all of feminism's waves and permutations—as well as the
voices that contest it—are essential. All of our varied feminisms seek
a more just world, and there's no need to limit our efforts to
particular spheres, no need to cut ties with parts of ourselves. While
I serve on the advisory board of a university press with other
professors, vetting scholarly projects for publication, I also serve as
a mentor to a Latina-Lakota teenager whose mother, a meth addict, lost
She lives with her father, stepmother, and two brothers in their small
mobile home in a trailer park. When I drive to see her, it
feels like I am driving into my own past.
1. bell hooks, "Out of the Academy and Into the
Streets," Ms. Magazine 3.1 (1992): 80-82. [Return to text]
2. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La
Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books,
1987). [Return to text]
3. Stephen Greenblatt,
"Meet the Writers:
StephenGreenblatt." Interview at Barnes and Noble, 2004. [Return to text]
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