The language trap

January 14, 2010

Duncan Shaw is mistaken (Letters, 7 January): in my letter of 17 December, I did not call on university teachers to pay more attention to Luce Irigaray. Rather, I said that I had drawn on her work. And yes, this is the same Luce Irigaray who noted that any language (including scientific language) that presents itself as universal, but which in fact is maintained by men only, is what maintains the alienation and exploitation of women in and by society.

As bell hooks notes, we can be given the gift of liberatory thinking, even if the gift is flawed. This gift encourages and enables the challenges and resistances to which Miriam David refers (Letters, 7 January), not always in the explicitly public spaces so favoured in masculine domains, but through the expressions of our intersected identities and the new ways of thinking and acting that Elizabeth Hoult describes ("Let feminine side of learning thrive", 10 December).

Sue Jackson, Professor of lifelong learning and gender Pro vice-master for learning and teaching Director, Birkbeck Institute for Lifelong Learning.

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