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As Hester Eisenstein has pointed out, the feminist concept of ‘difference’ has two aspects to it: differences between the sexes, and differences between and among women. Both aspects have been consistent preoccupations of ‘second-wave’ feminism. That does not mean, however, that ‘the theme of “difference” has been integral to modern feminist thought’, as Eisenstein goes on to assert (Eisenstein, 1985: xv; see also Eisenstein, 1984: passim). On the contrary, far from being ‘integral’ to feminism, the concept of ‘difference’ has too often functioned as a diversionary tactic. Whether the focus is on differences between the sexes, or on differences between and among women, male domination tends to be accorded a subsidiary status or ignored altogether.

In the case of differences between the sexes, male domination ...

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