Sometimes traditional arguments cannot be effective because what is at stake is too threatening. In these cases, all we have left to achieve common ground are our narratives, our identities. If we know and can understand our history more comprehensively by our stories, we can begin building a better vision (Enos 136).
Women are seen as both subjects and objects by society.We are cultural subjects, yet our very bodies are objectified by society in such a way that the line between subject and object may get blurred for us.The objectification of women has certainly had an affect on how a woman perceives herself as a subject.Paulo Freire, as cited in Kathleen Weilerís book, Women Teaching for Change: Gender, Class, Power, talks about this subject-object dualism, ì...the relationship between subject and object, consciousness and reality, thought and being, theory and practiceî (73).He says that, ìAny attempt to deal with the relationship that is based upon the subject-object dualism, while denying their dialectical unity, is unable to satisfactorily explain this relationshipî (Freire, as cited in Weiler 73).A similar relationship exists in the relationship between woman and intellectual.A ìsmartî, ìintelligentî, or ìintellectualî woman is often seen as a coveted object by an institution or another person.Such a woman is recognized because it is seen as an exception for a woman to be smart.The cultural identity of women and their objectification forces women who occupy certain subject-positions in society, like the subject position of teacher, to somehow deal with this subject-object dualism.How did this dualism come about?What are its consequences?And finally, how can women, specifically women educators in composition studies, carve out a space for themselves so that the ìdialectical unityî of being both a woman and an intellectual* is preserved?This paper will attempt to address those questions, through theoretical application, through brief historical analysis, and most importantly, via the narratives of women entangled in the struggle.
Jill Conway writes in Politics, Pedagogy and Gender that,
- Underlying the history of women in teaching is the assumption that access to work opportunities has the same meaning for everyone.If we stop to ask what gender meant for the 19th century founders of American public education, however, the story takes on new levels of meaning.Some of its themes speak directly to our educational dilemmas today.Its interest lies not in the sex of the teachers who staffed Americaís one-room schools but in the political and psychological images that men and women held regarding the gender of those teachers (138).
Historically, then, gender identity has brought about the subject-object dualism that women face, where the cultural identity/objectification of women clashes with the subject-position of intellectual that they try to establish for themselves.
It was not the sex of women teachers that created...