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Friedman, Alice T. “Shifting the Paradigm: Houses Built for Women.” Design and Feminism: Re-Visioning Spaces, Places, and Everyday Things. Ed. Joan Rothschild. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, (1999). 85-97.
Friedman demonstrates how two women, Constance Perkins and Madam C.J. Walker, directed the design and construction of architecturally significant homes that challenged contemporary paradigms of homebuilding by blurring boundaries. Friedman argues that these boundaries are based on gender and class frameworks. She describes these examples of explicitly feminist housing designs in order to illustrate four characteristics she feels will be evident in homes designed and built for women: (1) “program drives design” (85), (2) “these projects blur the boundaries between traditionally defined private space, domestic space, and work space in unconventional ways” (85), (3) “the projects highlight renegotiated relations, or redefined relations” (85), and (4) “these houses contest the basic tenets of patriarchal relations” (86). Friedman’s essay is, in balance, more descriptive than theoretical, and her reliance on only two examples makes generalizing difficult. Although Friedman’s piece should probably not be used as an interpretive tool, it does suggest new ways to look at domestic spaces. “Shifting the Paradigm” does exactly what its title promises: it suggests a new way thinking about space. The article does not, however, fully develop its arguments. [K. Park]