DEFINITION OF FEMINIST CRITICISM 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 reality. 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. FEMINISMS 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 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] Eco-Feminism: 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]) Feminazi: This term is of course completely without merit, but there's the definition of it FYI. [CTM] 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. Lesbianism: 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"). [CTM] 'pop-feminism' 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] Separatists: 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). [SJ] 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.] ...THERE FOLLOWS DESCRIPTIONS OF MEN'S MOVEMENTS... 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- email@example.com. I reserve all rights to edit material for brevity, clarity, and constructiveness. --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 Tradition 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 Poetry 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 Inquiry) 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 Deconstruction 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 Fiction" 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 Women(1974) 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- Structuralism" 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 Crit 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 writers. 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 political 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 criticism) 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 groups. "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 experience. Critical Strategies The applications of these assumptions generally fall into one of three broad feminist approaches: 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, 1994. 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.
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