THESE ARE, indeed, challenging times - as much for the Canadian women's movement as for Canadian women. Together, these conference papers aren't about feminism, they're about how to sell feminism to future generations.

Challenge One: Get back in touch with ordinary women. The contributors, many of them Ottawa-area academics, know full well they're ones to talk . . . and talk . . . and talk. To each other. The theoretical jargon - hegemonic bloc, paradigmatic shift, operational code - that litters this book makes feminism more club than a cause.
LONDON, ONT., sociologist Lorraine Greaves urges her scholarly sisters in The Struggle to practise what they preach: Access. "By this, I mean not just whether or not (our) words get out, but what kinds of words they are. Are they big words, and, if so, why?"

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Challenge Two: Don't mimic the patriarchy when we're accused of being arrogant, rigid or discriminatory. "Should (feminists) ever be able to drop our collective defensiveness, our movement will be richer, more exciting and truly revolutionary."

Which isn't to say all would be well once activists and academics learn to let loose.

"Women are struggling with new forms of interaction," says Greta Hofmann-Nemiroff, joint chairman of women's studies at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. So "we have a right to our mistakes and problems."

BUT WHAT ABOUT the 14-year-olds who believe in equal opportunity yet refuse to call themselves, you know, the F word?

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