Understanding what feminism is is not a straightforward task because there is a reluctance among feminist writers to engage in explicit definition. On the whole feminists tend, often quite deliberately, not to say what they mean by feminism. ‘That word’, wrote Alice Jardine, ‘poses some serious problems. Not that we would want to end up by demanding a definition of what feminism is and, therefore, of what one must do, say, and be, if one is to acquire that epithet [feminist]; dictionary meanings are suffocating, to say the least’ (Jardine, 1985: 20). Even compilers of feminist dictionaries are reluctant to engage too rigorously in definition. Maggie Humm, for example, said that it could only be ‘misleading to offer precise definitions of feminism ...