feminism (DOC) by sichankomik

VIEWS: 195 PAGES: 15

         Feminist criticism became a dominant force in Western literary studies in the late
1970s, when feminist theory more broadly conceived was applied to linguistic and
literary matters. Since the early 1980s, feminist literary criticism has developed and
diversified in a number of ways and is now characterized by a global perspective.
        French feminist criticism garnered much of its inspiration from Simone de
Beauvoir’s seminal book, Lé Deuxiéme Sexe (1949; The Second Sex). Beauvoir argued
that associating men with humanity more generally (as many cultures do) relegates
women to an inferior position in society. Subsequent French feminist critics writing
during the 1970s acknowledged Beauvoir’s critique but focused on language as a tool of
male domination, analyzing the ways in which it represents the world from the male point
of view and arguing for the development of a feminine language and writing.
         Although interested in the subject of feminine language and writing, North
American feminist critics of the 1970s and early 1980s began by analyzing literary
texts—not by abstractly discussing language—via close textual reading and historical
scholarship. One group practiced "feminist critique," examining how women characters
are portrayed, exposing the patriarchal ideology implicit in the so-called classics, and
demonstrating that attitudes and traditions reinforcing systematic masculine dominance
are inscribed in the literary canon. Another group practiced what came to be called
"gynocriticism," studying writings by women and examining the female literary tradition to
find out how women writers across the ages have perceived themselves and imagined
        While it gradually became customary to refer to an Anglo-American tradition of
feminist criticism, British feminist critics of the 1970s and early 1980s objected to the
tendency of some North American critics to find universal or "essential" feminine
attributes, arguing that differences of race, class, and culture gave rise to crucial
differences among women across space and time. British feminist critics regarded their
own critical practice as more political than that of North American feminists, emphasizing
an engagement with historical process in order to promote social change.
        By the early 1990s, the French, American, and British approaches had so
thoroughly critiqued, influenced, and assimilated one another that nationality no longer
automatically signaled a practitioner’s approach. Today’s critics seldom focus on
"woman" as a relatively monolithic category; rather, they view "women" as members of
different societies with different concerns. Feminists of color, Third World (preferably
called postcolonial) feminists, and lesbian feminists have stressed that women are not
defined solely by the fact that they are female; other attributes (such as religion, class,
and sexual orientation) are also important, making the problems and goals of one group
of women different from those of another.
         Many commentators have argued that feminist criticism is by definition gender
criticism because of its focus on the feminine gender. But the relationship between
feminist and gender criticism is, in fact, complex; the two approaches are certainly not
polar opposites but, rather, exist along a continuum of attitudes toward sex, sexuality,
gender, and language.
       Adapted from The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross
Murfin and Supriya M. Ray. Copyright 1998 by Bedford Books.
                                 by C. T. MOORE et al

A variety of movements in feminism means that calling one's self a feminist can mean
many things. In general, members of the following categories of feminism believe in the
listed policies; however as with any diverse movement, there are disagreements within
each group and overlap between others. This list is meant to illustrate the diversity of
feminist thought and belief. It does not mean that feminism is fragmented (although it
often seems that way!). Much of the definitions presented here are inspired from
_American Feminism_ by Ginette Castro; there is a definite American bias here. Other
sources were _Feminist Frameworks_ (2nd ed.) by Jaggar and Rothenberg (which is a
worthwhile but incomplete reader that tried to sort out these various schools of feminist
thought). Any additional, balancing information from other countries and/or books is
more than welcome (and will be incorporated).
        Defining various kinds of feminism is a tricky proposition. The diversity of
comment with most of the kinds presented here should alert you to the dangers and
difficulties in trying to "define" feminism. Since feminism itself resists all kinds of
definitions by its very existence and aims, it is more accurate to say that there are all
kinds of "flavors" and these flavors are mixed up every which way; there is no set of
Baskin Robbins premixed flavors, as it were.

Amazon Feminism
         Amazon feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in
fact, as it is expressed in art and literature, in the physiques and feats of female athletes,
and in sexual values and practices.
         Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender
role stereotypes and discrimination against women based on assumptions that women are
supposed to be, look or behave as if they are passive, weak and physically helpless.
         Amazon feminism rejects the idea that certain characteristics or interests are
inherently masculine (or feminine), and upholds and explores a vision of heroic
womanhood. Thus Amazon feminism advocates e.g., female strength athletes, martial
artists, soldiers, etc. [TG]

        Anarcho-feminism was never a huge movement, especially in the United States,
and you won't find a whole lot written about it. I mention it mostly because of the
influential work of Emma Goldman, who used anarchism to craft a radical feminism that
was (alas!) far ahead of her time. Radical feminism expended a lot of energy dealing with
a basis from which to critique society without falling into Marxist pleas for socialist
revolution. It also expended a lot of energy trying to reach across racial and class lines.
Goldman had succeeded in both. Radical feminist Alix Schulman realized this, but not in
time to save her movement. She's put out a reader of Goldman's work and a biography,
both of which I recommend highly. [JD]
Cultural Feminism
         As radical feminism died out as a movement, cultural feminism got rolling. In
fact, many of the same people moved from the former to the latter. They carried the name
"radical feminism" with them, and some cultural feminists use that name still. (Jaggar
and Rothenberg don't even list cultural feminism as a framework separate from radical
feminism, but Echols spells out the distinctions in great detail.) The difference between
the two is quite striking: whereas radical feminism was a movement to transform society,
cultural feminism retreated to vanguardism, working instead to build a women's culture.
Some of this effort has had some social benefit: rape crisis centers, for example; and of
course many cultural feminists have been active in social issues (but as individuals, not as
part of a movement). [JD]
         Cultural feminists can sometimes come up with notions that sound disturbingly
Victorian and non-progressive: that women are inherently (biologically) "kinder and
gentler" than men and so on. (Therefore if all leaders were women, we wouldn't have
wars.) I do think, though, that cultural feminism's attempts to heighten respect for what is
traditionally considered women's work is an important parallel activity to recognizing
that traditionally male activities aren't necessarily as important as we think. [CTM]
         I have often associated this type of statement [inherently kinder and gentler] with
Separatist Feminists, who seem to me to feel that women are *inherently* kinder and
gentler, so why associate with men? (This is just my experience from Separatists I
know...I haven't read anything on the subject.) I know Cultural Feminists who would
claim women are *trained* to be kinder and gentler, but I don't know any who have said
they are *naturally* kinder. [SJ]
         As various 1960s movements for social change fell apart or got co-opted, folks
got pessimistic about the very possibility of social change. Many of then turned their
attention to building alternatives, so that if they couldn't change the dominant society,
they could avoid it as much as possible. That, in a nutshell, is what the shift from radical
feminism to cultural feminism was about. These alternative-building efforts were
accompanied with reasons explaining (perhaps justifying) the abandonment of working
for social change. Cultural feminism's justification was biological determinism. This
justification was worked out in great detail, and was based on assertions in horribly-
flawed books like Elizabeth Gould Davis's _The First Sex_ and Ashley Montagu's _The
Natural Superiority of Women_. So notions that women are "inherently kinder and
gentler" are one of the foundations of cultural feminism, and remain a major part of it. A
similar concept held by some cultural feminists is that while various sex differences
might not be biologically determined, they are still so thoroughly ingrained as to be
intractable. There is no inherent connection between alternative-building and ideologies
of biological determinism (or of social intracta- bility). SJ has apparently encountered
alternative-builders who don't embrace biological determinism, and I consider this a very
good sign. [JD]
         I should point out here that Ashley Montagu is male, and his book was first
copyright in 1952, so I don't believe that it originated as part of the separatist movements
in the '60's. It may still be horribly flawed; I haven't yet read it. [CTM]

Erotic Feminism
        [European] This seemed to start (as a movement) in Germany under the rule of
Otto von Bismarck. He ruled the land with the motto "blood and iron". In society the man
was the _ultra manly man_ and power was patriarchal power. Some women rebelled
against this, by becoming WOMAN. Eroticism became a philosophical and metaphysical
value and the life-creating value. [RG]
        This branch of feminism is much more spiritual than political or theoretical in
nature. It may or may not be wrapped up with Goddess worship and vegetarianism. Its
basic tenet is that a patriarchical society will exploit its resources without regard to long
term consequences as a direct result of the attitudes fostered in a patriarchical/hierarchical
society. Parallels are often drawn between society's treatment of the environment,
animals, or resources and its treatment of women. In resisting patriarchical culture, eco-
feminists feel that they are also resisting plundering and destroying the Earth. And vice-
versa. [CTM]
        This is actually socially-conscious environmentalism with a tiny smattering of the
radical and cultural feminist observation that exploitation of women and exploitation of
the earth have some astonishing parallels. The rest of "eco-feminism" turns out to be a
variation on socialism. The Green movements of Europe have done a good job of
formulating (if not implementing) an environmentally aware feminism; and while Green
movements were not originally considered a part of eco-feminism, they are now
recognized as a vital component. [JD]
        (If I remember correctly, a couple of feminist groups, including NOW have joined
up with Green parties. [CTM])

       This term is of course completely without merit, but there's the definition of it

Feminism and Women of Color:
        In _feminist theory from margin to center_ (1984), bell hooks writes of "militant
white women" who call themselves "radical feminists" but hooks labels them
"reactionary" . . . Hooks is refering to cultural feminism here. Her comment is a good
introduction to that fractious variety of feminism that Jaggar and Rothenberg find hard to
label any further than to designate its source as women of color. It is a most vital variety,
covering much of the same ground as radical feminism and duplicating its dynamic
nature. Yet bad timing kept the two from ever uniting. For more information you might
want to also read hooks' book and her earlier reader, _ain't i a woman?_ Whereas radical
feminism was primarily formulated by educated white women focusing on women's
issues, this variety was formulated by women who would not (because they could not)
limit their focus. What is so extraordinary is that the two converged in so many ways,
with the notable exception that the women of color were adamantly opposed to
considering one form of oppression (sexism) without considering the others. [JD]
        I think an important work in the history of feminism and women of color is Gloria
Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga's anthology, _This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By
Radical Women of Color_. It's my belief that the unique contribution of women of color,
who experience at least two forms of discrimination daily, provides balance and reality to
much of the more theoretical forms of academic feminism favored by educated white
women. [EE]

Individualist, or Libertarian Feminism
       Individualist feminism is based upon individualist or libertarian (minimum
government or anarchocapitalist) philosophies, i.e. philosophies whose primary focus is
individual autonomy, rights, liberty, independence and diversity.

        There are a couple of points to make here. First is that Lesbianism is not
necessarily a *de facto* part of feminism. While it is true that merely being a lesbian is a
direct contravention of "traditional" concepts of womanhood, Lesbians themeselves hold
a wide variety of opionions on the subject of feminism just as their straight sisters do.
        On the other hand, Lesbianism has sometimes been made into a political point by
straight women "becoming" lesbian in order to fully reject men. However, it is never
accurate to characterise all feminists as Lesbians nor all Lesbians as feminists.
        The reader should also note that homophobia is as present among feminists as it is
in any other segment of society. Lesbianism and feminism, for all their common points
and joint interests, are two very different groups. [CTM]

Liberal Feminism:
        This is the variety of feminism that works within the structure of mainstream
society to integrate women into that structure. Its roots stretch back to the social contract
theory of government instituted by the American Revolution. Abigail Adams and Mary
Wollstonecraft were there from the start, proposing equality for women. As is often the
case with liberals, they slog along inside the system, getting little done amongst the
compromises until some radical movement shows up and pulls those compromises left of
center. This is how it operated in the days of the suffragist movement and again with the
emergence of the radical feminists. [JD]

Marxist and Socialist Feminism
        Marxism recognizes that women are oppressed, and attributes the oppression to
the capitalist/private property system. Thus they insist that the only way to end the
oppression of women is to overthrow the capitalist system. Socialist feminism is the
result of Marxism meeting radical feminism. Jaggar and Rothenberg point to significant
differences between socialist feminism and Marxism, but for our purposes I'll present the
two together. Echols offers a description of socialist feminism as a marriage between
Marxism and radical feminism, with Marxism the dominant partner. Marxists and
socialists often call themselves "radical," but they use the term to refer to a completely
different "root" of society: the economic system. [JD]

Material Feminism
       A movement in the late 19th century to liberate women by improving their
material condition. This meant taking the burden of housework and cooking off their
shoulders. _The Grand Domestic Revolution_ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one
reference. [RZ]
Moderate Feminism:
         This branch of feminism tends to be populated by younger women or other
women who have not directly experienced discrimination. They are closely affiliated with
liberal feminism, but tend to question the need for further effort, and do not think that
Radical feminism is any longer viable and in fact rather embarrassing (this is the group
most likely to espouse feminist ideas and thoughts while denying being "feminist").

        This term has appeared several times on soc.feminism. It appears to be a catch-all
for the bogey"man" sort of feminism that everyone loves to hate: you know, the kind of
feminism that grinds men under its heel and admits to no wrong for women. It is doubtful
that such a caricature actually exists, yet many people persist in lumping all feminists into
this sort of a category. [CTM]

Radical Feminism:
        Provides the bulwark of theoretical thought in feminism. Radical feminism
provides an important foundation for the rest of "feminist flavors". Seen by many as the
"undesireable" element of feminism, Radical feminism is actually the breeding ground
for many of the ideas arising from feminism; ideas which get shaped and pounded out in
various ways by other (but not all) branches of feminism. [CTM]
        Radical feminism was the cutting edge of feminist theory from approximately
1967-1975. It is no longer as universally accepted as it was then, nor does it provide a
foundation for, for example, cultural feminism. In addition, radical feminism is not and
never has been related to the Maoist-feminist group Radical Women. [EE]
        This term refers to the feminist movement that sprung out of the civil rights and
peace movements in 1967-1968. The reason this group gets the "radical" label is that they
view the oppression of women as the most fundamental form of opression, one that cuts
across boundaries of race, culture, and economic class. This is a movement intent on
social change, change of rather revolutionary proportions, in fact. [JD]
        Ironically, this get-to-the-roots movement is the most root-less variety of
feminism. This was part of its strength and part of its weakness. It was always dynamic,
always dealing with factions, and always full of ideas. Its influence has been felt in all the
other varieties listed here, as well as in society at large. [JD]
        To me, radical feminism is centred on the necessity to question gender roles. This
is why I identify current "gender politics" questions as radical feminist issues. Radical
feminism questions why women must adopt certain roles based on their biology, just as it
questions why men adopt certain other roles based on theirs. Radical feminism attempts
to draw lines between biologically- determined behavior and culturally-determined
behavior in order to free both men and women as much as possible from their previous
narrow gender roles. [EE]
        The best history of this movement is a book called _Daring to be Bad_, by
Echols. I consider that book a must! [JD] Another excellent book is simply titled
_Radical Feminism_ and is an anthology edited by Anne Koedt, a well-known radical
feminist [EE].
       Radical feminist theory is to a large extent incompatible with cultural feminism.
The reason is that the societal forces it deals with seem so great in magnitude that they
make it impossible to identify any innate masculine or feminine attributes except those
which are results of the biological attributes. (This is what I think the [above] "view[s]
the oppression of women as the most fundamental form of oppression," [is getting at]
although I don't agree with that statement in its context.) [DdJ]

        Popularly and wrongly depicted as Lesbians, these are the feminists who advocate
separation from men; sometimes total, sometimes partial. Women who organize women-
only events are often unfairly dubbed separatist. Separatists are sometimes literal,
sometimes figurative. The core idea is that "separating" (by various means) from men
enables women to see themselves in a different context. Many feminists, whether or not
separatist, think this is a necessary "first step", by which they mean a temporary
separation for personal growth, not a permanent one. [CTM]

There is sometimes some overlap between separatist and cultural feminists (see below).

It is equally inaccurate to consider all Lesbians as separatist; while it is true that they do
not interact with men for sexual fulfillment, it is not true that they therefore automatically
shun all interaction with men. [CTM] And, conversely, it is equally inaccurate to consider
all separatists Lesbians. Additionally, lesbian feminism may be considered a category
distinct from separatist feminism. Lesbian feminism puts more emphasis on lesbianism --
active bonding with women -- than separatism does, in its emphasis on removing bonds
with men. [EE]

[Other categories? Both formal and informal are welcome.]


My thanks to: Ellen Eades[EE] David desJardins [DdJ] Jym Dyer [JD] Thomas Gramstad
[TG] Rebecca Grinter [RG] David Gross [DG] (incl. all info on men's movements) Stacy
Johnson [SJ] Rudy Zalesak [RZ] --------------

Please mail in comments, additions, corrections, suggestions, and so on to feminism-
request@ncar.ucar.edu. I reserve all rights to edit material for brevity, clarity, and

--Cindy Tittle Moore

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that
people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a
doormat, or a prostitute." -- Rebecca West, 1913
            Some Important Texts in the History of Feminist Lit Crit

1929    Virginia Woolf                 Room ofOne'sOwn
1938    Virginia Woolf                 Three Guineas
1953    Simone de Beauvoir             The Second Sex (1949 translated in 1953)
1963    Betty Friedan                  The FeminineMystique
        Moers, Ellen                   Literary Women
1968       Mary Ellmann                Thinking About Women
1970       Kate Millett                Sexual Politics
1971       Norman Mailer               The Prisoner of Sex
1972       Patricia Meyer Spacks                The Female Imagination
         Susan Cornillion, ed.                  Images of Women in Fiction
1973       Carolyn Heilbrun                     Toward a Recognition of Androgyny
1974       Elizabeth Hardwick                   Seduction and Betrayal
         Molly Haskell                                  From Reverence to Rape; Women in
the Movies
         Alice Walker                                  "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens"
1975       Helene Cixous                       “The Laugh of the Medusa"
         Jane Rule                                     Lesbian Images
         Annette Kolodny                       "Some Notes on Defining a 'Feminist
                                               Literary Criticism'."
           Donovan, Josephine, ed.             Feminist Lit Crit: Explorations in Theory
1977          Elaine Showalter                 A Literature of Their Own
           Barbara Smith                       "Towards a Black Feminist Criticism"
1978          Judith Fetterley                 The Resisting Reader
           Jane Thompkins                      "Sentimental Power: Uncle Tom's Cabin"
           Nina Baym                                   Women's Fiction: A Guide to Novels
         by & abt Women in America
         Julia P. Stanley & Susan J. Wolfe“Toward a Feminist Aesthetic”
1979       Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar The Madwoman in the Attic
         Carolyn Heilbrun                    Reinventing Womanhood
1980       Annette Kolodny                   "Dancing Through the Minefield”
         Carol Christ                               Diving Deep and Surfacing
         Michele Barrett                     Women's Oppression Today
         Barbara Christian                   Black Women Novelists: Development of a
         Marks & DeCourtrivon, eds        New French Feminisms
         Nina Baym                                  "Melodramas of Beset Manhood”
1981       Carol Pearson & Katherine Pope Female Hero in Brit & Am Lit
         Annis Pratt                                Archetypal Patterns in Women's
         Ann Rosalind Jones                    "Writing the Body: Toward an Understand-
         ing of l'Ecriture Feminine”
         Catherine Stimpson                    "Zero Degree Deviancy: The Lesbian Novel
         in English”
         Bonnie Zimmerman                      “What Has Never Been: An Overview of
                                         Lesbian Feminist Lit Crit”
       Lillian Faderman                  Surpassing the Love of Men
       Elaine Showalter                  "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness."
1982     Carol Gilligan                         In a Different Voice
       Elizabeth Abel, ed.               Writing and Sexual Difference (Critical
       Jane Gallop                               The Daughter’s Seduction
       Hull, Bell-Scott, & Smith      All the Wmn Are White. . .But Some of Us Are
                                          Brave: Black Wm's
       Jonathan Culler                    "Reading As a Woman" in On
       Jane Marcus                                “Storming the Toolshed”
1983     Alice Walker                             In Search of Our Mother's Gardens
       Cherrie Morgan & Gloria Anzaldua This Bridge Called My Back
       Joanna Russ                                How to Suppress Women's Writing
       Lillian Robinson                   "Treason Our Text"
       Barbara Christian                  "Trajectories of Self-Definition: Placing
                                          Contemporary Afro-American Women's
1984     Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar, edsThe Norton Anthology of Lit by Women
1985     Elaine Showalter, ed.         The New Feminist Criticism
       Eliane Showalter                   The Female Malady
       Toril Moi                                  Sexual/Textual Politics
       Alice Jardine                              Gynesis: Configurations of Women
       and Modernity
       Luce Irigaray                              Speculum of the Other
       Kahn & Greene, eds.                Making a Difference:Fem Lit Crit
       Christian, Barbara.                Black Feminist Criticism: Perspectives on
                                          Black Women Writers
1986     Flynn & Schweikert, eds..     Gender and Reading
       Shari Benstock                     Women Writers of the Left Bank
1987 Alice Jardine & Paul Smith. Eds. Men in Feminism
1988     Gilbert and Gubar,               The War of the Words, Vol. I of No Man's
Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century
       Linda Alcoff                               "Cultural Feminism vs. Post-
1989     Elaine Showalter                 "A Criticism of Our Own: Autonomy and
Assimilation in Afro-American and Feminist Literary Theory “
       Gilbert & Gubar                    No Man’s Land II: Sexchanges
1990     Barbara Smith                    "The Truth that Never Hurts: Black
Lesbians inFiction in the 1980"s"
       Boone & Cadden                     Engendering Men: Question of Male Fem
       Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick           Epistemology of the Closet
1991 Dale M. Bauer , Susan Jaret McKinstry, eds Feminism, Bakhtin, and the Dialogic
1993        Warhol & Herndl                   Feminisms
           Gayle Greene & Coppelia Kahn, eds. Changing Subjects: The Making of Feminist
Lit Crit
     Pam Morris                                       Literature and Feminism
1994 Barbara Christian                         "Layered Rhythms: Virginia Woolf and
     Toni Morrison”
     Gilbert & Gubar                           No Man’s Land III: Letters from the Front

Background/ Context/ Variations
    Goes as far back as Mary Astell 1692, "Serious Proposal to the Ladies"
    Susan B Anthony and the beginnings of the women's movement in the US in 1848
    Virginia Woolf, A Room of one's Own (1929) first real book of femlitcrit
    Simone deBeauvoir, The Second Sex
    Starts full-bore in the early 70’s, along with “3rd Wave” feminism with “Images of
      Women” criticism
    1970 Kate Millett, Sexual Politics
    Anti-authoritarian 60’s/ 70’s (EX: rebel against New Criticism)

       Central Assumptions
         Sexual oppression exists
         Gender counts: Being female and/or thinking as a female does make a
           difference, even if it’s only a social/historical one
         gender and sex are different -- gender is socially constructed. The differences
           between men and women are not so much biological as social:. Sex is
           biological-- (male/female); gender is cultural (masculine/feminine) and there
           is no necessary connection between the two.
         Diversity and Identity Count-- who we are is part of our reading process
         Subjectivity: Like reader-response critics, feminist critics believe that the
           perceiver makes a big impact on reading. Therefore, feminist critics are
           interested in the historical/cultural identity politics of both readers and writers.
         Read as a Woman: You don’t have to be female to read like a woman or to
           analyze texts from a feminine point of view or to do research on women
         Canon Building: Traditional women’s writing and reading have been
           neglected and it is worthwhile to restore them to parity. The literary canon has
           largely been a product of, by, and for men, and therefore the roles for women
           as either authors or characters are limited
         Everything is political. All reading and writing is political
         Women’s experience matters: Validation of the personal (“the personal is the
           political”); individual experience counts; things that happen to you, also
           happen to everyone else and are part of a power structure that is ultimately
       Literature and literary criticism are political
       Gender discrimination is parallel to and part of the same system that produces
        discrimination according to race, ethnicity, sexual preference, class etc.

    Key Terms
   The Other – woman has been categorized as “Other”
   Social construction of gender (and race)
   Gynocriticism -- the study of literature by women and about women
   misogyny -- hatred of women / misanthrope -- hates people / misandry -- hatred
    of men
   political criticism --
   essentialism -- a deterministic view that "biology is destiny" (ooposite of social
    construction) belief that there is an inherent set of traits that determine both sex
    and gender, that male and female are immutable, absolute categories,

    Analytical Methods
    Uses all analytical methods

               Mimetic – images of women – critiques stereotypes, archetypal
               Pragmatic – how do women read? Do women read differently from
                men? What happens when you read “as a woman”. Does the text
                havea double discourse: does it speak differently to women and men?
               Expressive – very concerned with situation of the woman writer, with
                establishing the literary history of women writers(recovery of lost
                women writers)
               Objective – what are the assumptions that govern literary value?Why
                are certain works canonized, while others are forgotten.

    Historical Legacy/ Limitations and Rebuttals/ Problems

   Has re-vitalized a number of otherwise moribund ares (EX: Shakespeare
   Has resulted in the discovery of many important authors and the re-shaping of the
    basic canon
   Has helped to encourage the development of criticism focused on many "othered"
    groups: African-American, Latina, Native American, lesbian
   Has had a very strong influence in the development of all kinds of histoirical and
    cultural criticism.

   Hesitation to buy into it. Problems with the “F” word. Sense that it is special
    pleading. Times that it can be annoying if over-stressed.
      It is hard to keep froim falling into old steroetypes and to keep students from just
       solidifying thier prejudices.
      Doesn’t necessary work well with every work.Sometimes looking for things that
       aren’t there.
      Can be as guilty as any other form of crit in excluding or “Othering”particular

"What unites and repeatedly invigorates feminist literary criticism, then, is
neither dogma nor method but [ . . . ] an acute and impassioned
attentiveness to the ways in which primarily male structures of power are
inscribed (or encoded) within our literary inheritance; the consequences of
that encoding for women -- as characters, as readers, and as writers; and,
with that, a shared analytic concern for the implications of that encoding
not only for a better understanding of the past, but also for an improved
reordering of the present and future as well."

-- Annette Kolodny, "Dancing Through the Minefield" (1397-98)


Para feminist merespon tentang kebudayaan yang digabung selama kurun ½ abad
ke 20 meyakini bahwa telah mengakar kebudayaan yang merugikan trhadp
perempuan. Feminist mengkritik tentang pertentangan antara objek gender
perempuan yang dibawah kekuatan dan nilai dari laki-laki. Jaringan kekuatan dari
kebudayaan ini adalah laki-laki sebagai kepala dari

The feminist response to culture that has coalesced in the last half of the twentieth
century recognizes a deeply ingrained prejudice against women. Sometimes
borrowing from both Marxist and structuralist methodology, feminist critics have
explored a pervasive binary opposition built around gender which subordinates
women to objects by which the power and value of all that is male is affirmed. This
cultural web of power and privilege is the patriarchy.

The feminist critique of patriarchal culture actually has a long tradition. Among the
early voices in this critique was Mary Wollonecraft. In 1792 she argued in A
Vindication of the Rights of Women that women must challenge society's assumption
of female inferiority and must strive to articulate their own identities and roles in
society. Among the important twentieth-century voices further articulating the
feminist critique of culture have been Virginia Woolf (A Room of One's Own, 1919),
Simone de Beavoir (The Second Sex, 1949), Kate Millett (Sexual Politics, 1969), and
Elaine Showalter (A Literature of Their Own, 1977).

Feminist critics share with Marxists and others an awareness of the literature as an
ideological force in culture. From this general awareness, several distinct areas of
focus have developed in feminist criticism of literature. Some critics have focused on
rediscovering and rearticulating previously disenfranchised or suppressed female
voices. Others have reassessed traditional literary texts with an attention to their
inherently engendered elements of content or form. Still others have explored the
awakening female consciousness often dramatized in literature. All of these
emphases, however, explore literature as a product of an on-going patriarchal power
struggle in society.
                                 Critical Assumptions

Succinctly put, here are some common assumptions of feminist criticism:

   1. All literature, like all culture, dramatizes implicitly or explicitly the difference
        between the masculine and the feminine.
   2. Alll literature, like all history, records the struggle of women and men with the
        social forces of patriarchy.
   3.   Criticism functions, as does reading itself, to facilitate the awakening of
        human consciousness to the gender-delimiting elements of human

                                  Critical Strategies

The applications of these assumptions generally fall into one of three broad feminist

The Socio-Political Approach of what is sometimes termed the British school of
feminist criticism focuses on a neo-Marxist exposé of the patriarchy as reflected in
the delimited lives and destinies of female characters in literature. This type of
critical discourse often takes an explicitly and aggressively ideological stance,
stressing the important contribution of literature and literary criticism to a radical,
even revolutionary reformation of culture.

The Socio-Psychological Approach of the so-called American school of feminist
criticism focuses on exploring the awakening feminine consciousness reflected in
literature by and about women. Through close textual analysis, this critical approach
has often stressed a psychological maturation not only through a recognition of
gender difference but also through a growing sense of "sisterhood" with other
women. One strategy toward this end has been the recovery or rediscovery of
previously overlooked or suppressed female writers and texts.

The Fe(Male) Approach of the French school of feminist criticism has stressed the
subtle but essential participation of language in the patriarchal forces of society. This
critical approach often draws upon the linguistic concepts of structuralism and post-
structuralism. Some practitioners of this critical method also focus on defining the
distinguishing qualities of L'ecriture féminine (women's writing).

As all three of these approaches reflect, feminist criticism is not based upon an
objective or scientific aesthetic assessment of formal elements. Rather, as David
Cowles has noted, one important feminist motto is that "'the personal is political'";
hence, feminist criticism is self-consciously ideological, seeking "to change individual
readers and society itself" (218-19). This imperative for personal and social change
is not only acknowledged but also embraced by Elaine Showalter in "Toward a
Feminist Poetics" and Josephine Donovan in "Beyond the Net: Feminist
Criticism as a Moral Criticism."

                                      Works Cited
Cowles, David, et al. The Critical Experience. 2nd ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt,

Kolodny, Annette. "Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the
Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism." Feminist Studies 6
(1980). Rpt. In The Critical Tradition: Classic Text and Contemporary Trends. Ed.
David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford, 1998. 1386-399.

                       Glossary of Literary Theory
              by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Feminist criticism:

A criticism advocating equal rights for women in a political, economic, social,
psychological, personal, and aesthetic sense. On the thematic level, the feminist reader
should identify with female characters and their concerns. The object is to provide a
critique of phallocentric assumptions and an analysis of patriarchal visions or ideologies
inscribed in a literature that is male-centered and male-dominated. Such a reader
denounces the outrageously phallic visions of writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Henry
Miller, and Norman Mailer, refusing to accept the cult of masculine virility and
superiority that reduces woman to a sex object, a second sex, a submissive other. As
Judith Fetterley puts it, "Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to
interpret the world but to change it by changing the consciousness of those who read and
their relation to what they read. . . [The first act of a feminist critic is] to become a
resisting rather than an assenting reader and, by this refusal to assent, to begin the process
of exorcizing the male mind that has been implanted in us." On the thematic level, then,
the reader rejects stereotypes and examines woman as a theme in literary works.

On the ideological level, the reader seeks to learn not to accept the hegemonic
perspective of the male and refuses to be coopted by a gender-biased criticism. Gender is
largely a cultural construct, as are the stereotypes that go along with it: that the male is
active, dominating, and rational, whereas the female is passive, submissive, and
emotional. Gynocritics strive to define a particularly feminine content and to extend the
canon so that it might include works by lesbians, feminists, and women writers in
general. According to Elaine Showalter, gynocriticism is concerned with "woman as the
producer of textual meaning, with the history, themes, genres, and structures of literature
by women. Its subjects include the psychodynamics of female creativity; linguistics and
the problem of a female language; the trajectory of the individual or collective female
literary career; literary history; and, of course, studies of particular writers and works."

On the deconstructionist level, the aim is to dismantle and subvert the logocentric
assumptions of male discourse -- its valorization of being, meaning, truth, reason, and
logic, its metaphysics of presence. Logocentrism is phallocentric (hence the neologism
"phallogocentrism"); it systematically privileges paternal over maternal power, the
intelligible over the sensible. Patriarchal authority demands unity of meaning and is
obsessed with certainty of origin. The French feminists in particular construe "woman" as
any radical force that subverts the concepts, assumptions, and structures of traditional
male discourse -- the realism, rationality, mastery, and explanation that undergird it. By
contrast, the American and British feminists mainly engage in empirical and thematic
studies of writings by and about women.

To top