Publication Details

Lyons, L, A State of Ambivalence: Feminism in a Singaporean Women’s Organisation, Asian Studies Review, 2000, 24(1), 1-24. Asian Studies Review can be found here through Taylor & Francis journals.


There has been some interest in recent years in identifying the features or characteristics of an ‘Asian’ or ‘Third-World’ feminism (Moraga and Anzaldua 1983; Jayawardena 1986; Grewal et al. 1988; Mohanty 1991; Basu 1995; Alexander and Mohanty 1997). Part of this concern has focused on a costs-benefits analysis of Asian women ‘coming out’ as feminists in overtly hostile political climates. For many women embracing the identity ‘feminist’ continues to be a difficult process. Caught within multiple and shifting discourses that serve to inscribe place, allegiance and behaviour, being a feminist is not only an expression of individual political belief, but is often perceived as a rejection of dominant group identity. Within their own communities, women have often been forced to make a choice between their race, class or ethnic group, and their gender (see hooks 1981; Enloe 1989; Accad 1991). Where feminism is inscribed as part of an unreconstructed colonial discourse, ‘choosing’ to be a feminist becomes an even more dangerous exercise (see Phillip 1978; Mernissi 1987; Kandiyoti 1991; Heng 1997).



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