The diversity contained within this issue of Bluestocking only serves in my mind to highlight how important the task of investigating the intellectual and artistic achievements of women is. That women have been so exceptional throughout history, despite attempts to stifle their creativity is inspiring, for instance Emmy Noether’s perseverance in gaining a doctorate in Mathematics despite so much contemporary opposition to female participation in higher education. It is also particularly interesting to look at how women worked around such problems, for instance what Martin Parlett calls Elizabeth Cary’s ’silent rebellion’ or how Catherine de’ Medici created a regal iconography to assert her position as regent at a time when the overt display of power was thought to be the sole preserve of a man.
On a more contemporary note, the limitations and issues facing women are often very different from those of their counterparts several hundred years ago. Women are not so much fighting against a censure of their creative ability but trying to subvert gender stereotypes which still prevail in society. This is almost the same process as Bluestocking aims to achieve; Carol Ann Duffy and MC Lyte are taking male dominated approaches and looking at them in a fresh and female orientated way.
I think it is particularly important at this junction to stress that the aim of Bluestocking is not to promote female creativity as being intrinsically more worthy, but to assert the fact that much female effort has gone unrecognized in the past due to a combination of factors, and that this needs to be addressed. This leads to the essential problem of the negative connotation of feminism: if you, whatever your gender, lifestyle or beliefs, think that women should be equal to men, then you are essentially a feminist, and however optimistic you may be the struggle for equality has not yet fully been achieved. This is why the effort of enterprises such as Bluestocking are so important.
On a lighter note, I’d like to thank all the writers, as well as my trusty team of editors and those who helped with design and publicity. Finally, I would like to thank Eleanor Woodhouse, who although is not formally affiliated with Bluestocking has given me an enormous amount of help and support throughout this term, both with practical issues of organization and by being a wonderful friend.