2 Feminist CriticismExamines ways in which literature reinforces or undermines the oppression of women.EconomicallySociallyPoliticallyPsychologically
3 Traditional Gender Roles PatriarchyAny culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles.
4 Traditional Gender Roles MenRational(no crying)StrongProtectiveDecisiveWomenEmotional (irrational)WeakNurturingSubmissive
5 Traditional gender roles have been used successfully to justify inequities such as excluding women from equal access to leadership and decision-making positions and paying men higher wages than women for doing the same job.Example: employer can pay women less forperforming same work as a man simply bygiving her a different job title.
6 Patriarchy is by definition sexist It promotes the belief that women are innately inferior to men“head of the tribe or family”
7 Biological Essentialism Belief of inborn inferioritybased on biological differences between the sexes that are part of our unchanging essence as men and womenExample: hysteria
8 Feminists don’t deny biological differences don’t agree that differences in physical size, shape, and body chemistry make men naturally superior to womenmore intelligentmore logicalbetter leadersFeminists don’t deny biological differences; however, they don’t agree that differences in physical size, shape, and body chemistry make men naturally superior to women.more intelligentmore logicalbetter leaders
9 SEX: biological constitution as female or male GENDER: our cultural programming as feminine or masculine Judith Butler: Gender is performed
10 The inferior position long occupied by women in a patriarchal society has been culturally, not biologically, produced.
11 Patriarchy continually exerts forces that undermine women’s self-confidence and assertiveness, then points to the absence of these qualities as proof that women are naturally self-effacing and submissive.Example: girls and math
12 Patriarchal gender roles are destructive for men as well as women. Traditional gender roles dictate that men are supposed to be strong:Physically powerfulEmotionally stoicMen are not supposed to cry (considered a sign of weakness)Unmanly to show fear or painShouldn’t express sympathy for other men
13 Arguments Against Feminist Premises Western society has actually been structured to protect women from the brutalities of war and commerce, allowing them to be nurturers, mothers, and homemakers.Rather than exploiting or suppressing women, it actually celebrates and cherishes them.
14 Counter Argument by Feminists Assumes suppression and exclusion.If a woman is put on a pedestal, she can’t do much of anything up there.Assumes women are weaker sex, needing protection.Assumes women are unable to compete with men.Disallows for the fact that some women are physically and mentally stronger than some men.
15 Roots of Feminism Men have oppressed women. allowing them little or no voice in the political, social, or economic issues of their societyMen (either consciously or unconsciously) have oppressed women, allowing them little or no voice in the political, social, or economic issues of their society;
16 Roots of Feminism …Men have made women the “nonsignificant Other.” OTHER: an unnatural or deviant beingMen, in effect, have made women the “nonsignificant Other.”Women have been marginalized by the dominant male culture.
17 Goal of FeminismTherefore, feminism’s goal is to change these degrading views of women so that all women will realize they are not a “nonsignificant Other” and will realize that each woman is a valuable person possessing the same privileges and rights as every man.
18 Roots of FeminismWomen must define themselves and assert their own voices in the arenas of politics, society, education, and the arts.By personally committing themselves to fostering such change, feminists hope to create a society in which not only the male but also the female voice is equally valued.
19 Historical Roots of Feminism According to feminist criticism, the roots of prejudice against women have long been embedded in Western culture.Some say it originated with biblical narrative where the fall of man is blamed on Eve, not Adam.
20 Historical Roots of Feminism According to feminist criticism, the roots of prejudice against women have long been embedded in Western culture.Ancient Greeks (Aristotle) ”The man is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules and the other is ruled.”
21 Roots of FeminismAccording to feminist criticism, the roots of prejudice against women have long been embedded in Western culture.Religious leaders: Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustinewomen were merely “imperfect men”Spiritually weak creaturesPossessed a sensual nature that lures men away from spiritual truths, thereby preventing males from attaining their spiritual potential.
22 Roots of FeminismAccording to feminist criticism, the roots of prejudice against women have long been embedded in Western culture.Darwin (The Descent of Man – 1871)“women are of a characteristic of … a past and lower state of civilization.”Are inferior to men, who are physically, intellectually, and artistically superiormen’s voices continued to articulate and determine the social role and cultural and personal significance of women.
23 Roots of FeminismOpposition to patriarchal opinions against women was not heard of until the late 1700s.Mary WollstonecraftA Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)Women must stand up for their rights and not allow their male-dominated society to define what it means to be a woman.Women must take the lead and articulate who they are and what role they will play in society.Women must reject patriarchal assumption that women are inferior to men.She believed women should have a voice in the public arena alongside men.
24 Roots of FeminismNot until the early 1900s (Progressive Era) that the major roots of feminist criticism began to grow.Women gained the right to voteWomen became prominent activists in the social issues of the dayHealth careEducationPoliticsliteratureHowever, women were still lacked the equality of men
25 History of Feminist Criticism Virginia WoolfA Room of One’s Own (1919)Declares men have and continue to treat women as inferiors.The male defines what is means to be female and controls the political, economic, social and literary structures.British scholar and teacherHer work Laid foundation for present-day feminist criticism.Woolf’s symbol of the solitude and autonomy needed to seclude ones’ self from the world and its social constraints in order to find time to think and write.Ultimately, Shakespeare’s sister dies alone without any acknowledgement of her personal genius. Even her grave does not bear her name because she is buried in an unmarked grave simply because she is female.
26 History of Feminist Criticism Virginia WoolfA Room of One’s Own (1919)Hypothesizes the existence of Shakespeare’s sister, equally as gifted a writer has he.Gender prevents her from having “a room of her own”She cannot obtain an education or find profitable employment because she is a woman.Her innate artistic talents will therefore never flourish, for she cannot afford a room of her own.British scholar and teacherHer work Laid foundation for present-day feminist criticism.Woolf’s symbol of the solitude and autonomy needed to seclude ones’ self from the world and its social constraints in order to find time to think and write.Ultimately, Shakespeare’s sister dies alone without any acknowledgement of her personal genius. Even her grave does not bear her name because she is buried in an unmarked grave simply because she is female.
27 History of Feminist Criticism Virginia WoolfA Room of One’s Own (1919)This kind of loss of artistic talent and personal worthiness is the direct result of society’s opinion of women: they are intellectually inferior to men.Women must reject this social construct and establish their own identity.Women must challenge the prevailing, false cultural notions about their gender identity and develop a female discourse that will accurately portray their relationship “to the world of reality and not to the world of men.”British scholar and teacherHer work Laid foundation for present-day feminist criticism.Woolf’s symbol of the solitude and autonomy needed to seclude ones’ self from the world and its social constraints in order to find time to think and write.Ultimately, Shakespeare’s sister dies alone without any acknowledgement of her personal genius. Even her grave does not bear her name because she is buried in an unmarked grave simply because she is female.
28 History of Feminist Criticism Simone de BeauviorThe Second Sex (1949)“foundational work of 20th century feminism”Declares that French society (and Western societies in general) are PATRIARCHAL, controlled by males.Like Woolf, believed that the male defines what it means to be human, including, therefore, what it means to be female.Since the female is not the male, she becomes the Other, finding herself a nonexistent player in the major social institutions of her cultureChurchGovernmentEducational systemsFrench writerThe OTHER: an object whose existence is defined and interpreted by the male, the dominant being in society.
29 History of Feminist Criticism Simone de BeauviorThe Second Sex (1949)Woman must break the bonds of her patriarchal society and define herself if she wishes to become a significant human being in her own right and defy male classification as the Other.Must ask herself, “What is a woman?”Answer must not be “mankind” (generic label allows men to define women as relative to him, not as herself.)Beauvior insists that women must see themselves as autonomous beings. They must reject the societal constructs that men are the subject or the absolute and that women are the Other. Embedded in this assumption is the suppostition that males have power and define cultureal terms and roles. Accordingly, women must define themselves outside the present social construct and reject being labeled as the Other.
30 History of Feminist Criticism Kate MilletSexual Politics (1970)challenges the social ideological characteristics of both the male and the female.“A female is born but a woman is created.”One’s sex is determined at birth (male or female)One’s gender is a social construct created by cultural ideals and norms (masculine or feminine)With the advent of the 1960s and its political activism and social concerns, feminist issues found new voices, and prominent among them is Kate Millet. With her publication of Sexual Politics in ’69, a new wave of feminism begins. She was one of the first feminists to challenge the social ideological characteristics of both the male and the female.
31 History of Feminist Criticism Kate MilletSexual Politics (1970)challenges the social ideological characteristics of both the male and the female.Women and men (consciously and unconsciously) conform to the cultural ideas established for them by society.Cultural norms and expectations are transmitted through media: television, movies, songs, and literature.Boys must be aggressive, self-assertive, domineeringGirls must be passive, meek, humbleShe examines works of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Jean Genet and argues that even these “liberal” modern writers still perpetuate the sexual stereotypes by portraying male power and domination as natural and desirable.Stereotypical Criticism
32 History of Feminist Criticism Kate MilletSexual Politics (1970)Women must revolt against the power center of their culture: male dominance.Women must establish female social conventions for themselves by establishing and articulating female discourse, literary studies, and feminist theory.Conforming to these prescribed sex roles dictated by society is what she calls “Sexual Politics”
33 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sFeminist critics began to examine the traditional literary canonDiscovered examples that supported assertions of Beauvoir and Milletthat males considered the female “the Other”male dominance and prejudiceFeminism in 1960s and 1970s
34 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sFeminist critics began to examine the traditional literary canonStereotypes of womenSex maniacsGoddesses of beautyMindless entitiesOld spinstersFeminism in 1960s and 1970s
35 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sFeminist critics began to examine the traditional literary canonfound male authors in established literary canon: Dickens, Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Twain, etc.Found few females achieved such statusRoles of female, fictionalized characters were limited to secondary positionsMore frequently than not as minor parts within story or as stereotypical imagesFemale scholars such as Woolf and Beauvior were ignoredWorks seldom referred to by male critics of literary canonFeminism in 1960s and 1970s
36 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sFeminist critics began to examine the traditional literary canonAsserted that the males who created and gained prominence in canon assumed all readers were male.Most university professors were malesWomen reading such works were trained to read as if they were males.
37 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sFeminist critics began to examine the traditional literary canonBrought about existence of a female reader who was affronted by the male prejudices abounding in the canon.Brought about questions concerning the male and female qualities of literary form, style, voice, and theme.By 1970s, books that defined women’s writings in feminine terms flourished.
38 History of Feminist Criticism Feminism in 1960s and 1970sHaving highlighted the importance of genderFeminist critics began to rediscover literary works authored by females that had been dismissed or deemed inferior by their male counterparts, unworthy to be a part of the canon.Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899)Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962)Chopin: American archetypal, rediscovered feminist textLessing: EnglandThroughout the universities, readers turned their attention to historical and current works authored by women.Simultaneously, works that attempted to define the feminine imagination, to categorize and explain female literary history, and to attempt to define the female aesthetic or concept of beauty became the focus of feminist critics.
39 Feminist Criticism Elaine Showalter A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing (1977)Asserts female authors were consciously and deliberately excluded from the literary canon by the male professors who established the canon itself.Example: Olive SchreinerTo fully understand the development of women’s literature, we must recognize the Schreiners as well as the Austins.Example: Olive Schreiner, a feminist novelist who wrote around the turn of the centuryShowalter doesn’t consider her an excellent literary artist (her novels are “depressing and claustrophobic”), but does point out that she influenced later writers such as Doris Lessing.Points out that these three women authors Susan WarnerE.D.N. SouthworthMary E. Wilkins Freemanwere by far the most popular authors of the second half of the 19th century in American fiction but were not deemed worthy to be included in the canon.
40 Linguistics Gilbert & Gubar The War of Words (1988) “a major campaign in the battle of the sexes is the conflict over language and, specifically, over competing male and female claims to linguistic primacy” (228).It’s not enough to challenge the way women have been portrayed in literature; must recognize that language itself has been shaped by men in ways that denigrate and alienate women.War of Words is first volume of 3 vol. No Man’s Land: The place of the woman writer in the 20th century.
41 Stereotypical Criticism (Sandra) Gilbert & (Susan) GubarMadwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979)Analyze literature in relationship to the myths created by men and challenge such myths.“those mythic masks male artists have fastened over [woman’s] human face.”Passive, submissive “angel”Destructive, sinister “monster”Argue male artists have created two principal masks, or images for women – and women cannot create freely unless they first understand and destroy these masksThey analyze at length two works they see as creative “misreadings” or “rewritings” of Paradise Lost (inferior and Satanically inspired Eve – which has intimidated and blocked their view of possibiliites)Many women writers have devised their own revisionary myths to free themselves from the inhibiting image Milton created.Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) in which Victor Frankenstein and his monster may be identified with EveAndEmily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, in which the fall from heaven is transformed and parodied.
42 Judith Fetterly The Resisting Reader (1978) Women should resist the meanings that male authors – or female authors who have inherited patriarchal values – embed in their books.A woman must read as a woman “exorcising the male mind that has been implanted in women.”Visions of how women ought to behaveIn resisting the obvious meanings, for example, the false claim that male falues are universal values, women may discover more significant meaningsExample: Fetterly argues that in “A Rose for Emily” (read rest on handout)
43 Stereotypical Criticism Judith Fryer’s The Faces of Eve: Women in the 19th Century American Novel (1976)Faces of Eve:The TemptressThe American princessThe Great MotherThe New Womanalready mentioned Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics
44 Stereotypical Criticism Not all stereotypical criticism is negative with the attack on works by male authors.Annis Pratt examines “healthier representations” (“New Feminist Criticism”)Miriam Lerenbaum (“Moll Flanders: A Woman on Her Own Account”)Defends Defoe as shedding a positive light on the female character Moll.already mentioned Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics
45 Feminist critics also criticize critics they consider to be sexist. “Phallic Criticism” (Annis Pratt)Critics that look at and distort chauvinistic interpretations of works either by men or women.Nina Baym’s “Melodramas of Beset Manhood: How Theories of American Fiction Exclude Women Authors”Scarlet LetterCritics who ignore literature by women.Carol Ohmann’s “Emily Bronte in the Hands of Male Critics”Wuthering HeightsScarlet Letter has been read as work with a male protagonist (Arthur Dimmesdale) resisting temptations of seductress Hester PrynneCarol Ohmann: analyzes reviews that appeared when WH was first published; B’s contemporaries assume that B. had little conscious control over her material and that her lack of experience and understnading limits her achievement. Such statements are often used to dismiss the works of women writers.
46 Some feminist critics have attempted to use literature and criticism to promote social change. Carolyn G. Heilbrun (Reinventing Womanhood -1979)Makes literary criticism a part of her effort to promote “the struggle for female selfhood.”Toril Moi (Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory – 1985)Feminist criticism can and should contribute to social change“the principal objective of feminist criticism…has always been political: it seeks to expose, not to perpetuate, patriarchal practices.”
47 Feminist CriticismNo one critical theory of writing dominates feminist criticism; few theorists agree upon a unifying feminist approach to textual analysis.American: textual, stressing repressionBritish: Marxist, stressing oppressionFrench: psychoanalytic, stressing repressionSHowlater belives that feminist criticism has gradually shifted its focus from revisionary readings to a sustained investigation of literature by womenPhysical geography plays an important role in determining the major interests of various voices of feminist criticism.American feminism concerned with restoring the writings of female authors to the literary canonAnnette Kolodny believes that the literary history itself is a fiction. Wishes to restore the history of women so that they themselves can tell “herstory”Women must first find a means to gain their voice in the midst of numerous voices (particularly male voices) clamouring for attention in society.All groups attempt to rescue women from being considered “the Other”
48 Feminist CriticismAsserts that most of our literature presents a masculine-patriarchal view in which the role of women is negated or at best minimized.
49 Feminist ViewAttempts to show that writers of traditional literature have ignored women and have transmitted misguided and prejudiced views of them;Attempts to stimulate the creation of a critical environment that reflects a balanced view of the nature and value of women;
50 Feminist ViewAttempts to recover the works of women writers of past times and to encourage the publication of present women writers so that the literary canon may be expanded to recognize women as thinkers and artists; andUrges transformations in the language to eliminate inequities and inequalities that result from linguistic distortions.
51 Questions for Analysis Is the author male or female?Is the text narrated by a male or female?What types of roles do women have in the text?Are the female characters the protagonists or secondary and minor characters?Do any stereotypical characterizations of women appear?What are the attitudes toward women held by the male characters?What is the author’s attitude toward women in society?How does the author’s culture influence his or her attitude?Is feminine imagery used? If so, what is the significance of such imagery?Do the female characters speak differently than do the male characters? In your investigation, compare the frequency of speech for the male characters to the frequency of speech for the female characters.By applying any or all of these questions to a text, we can begin the journey into feminist criticism and better understand the world in which we live.
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