Monday, August 01, 2005

S/T P - The beginning of feminist writing

Sexual/ Textual Politics – This is about the history of feminist literature : what makes it so special, and how it bridged the gap between the learned discourses written by the academia (the textual world) with the growing feminist movement (the world which was actively challenging sexual politics).

Virginia Woolf wrote “A Room of One’s Own” in 1927. That was before any “feminist” movement had started. It makes the mind boggle when we think about the quality of a mind to be able to see through social conditioning to create so timeless a work, in such a repressive era, when there wasn’t even a group of people to support her. There is so much strength we draw now from reading other feminists and knowing that there are others in the world, battling with the same restrictions, the politics, oppression and so on – we lean mentally on our community for support and draw encouragement from it. Imagine doing all that alone

This isolation was not just for a passing time – the next feminist work came only after 20 years. Simone De Beauvoir wrote about “The Second Sex” in 1949. This work was another landmark in feminist history for first voicing the contention that women were (and still are) simply regarded only as “non-male”, with no recognition of their own qualities and abilities. They are merely the other sex.

Then came:

Betty Friedman – “The Feminine Mystique” (1963)
Katherine M Rogers - “The Troublesome Helpmate” (1966)
Mary Ellman – “Thinking About Women” (1968)
Kate Millett – “Sexual Politics” (1969).

That sudden spurt in feminist literary work was because in the 1960s, the next wave of feminism had started. (After the suffragette movement, there was nothing for all those long years).

The founders of the feminist movement were actually fighting another cause. They were fighting for the rights of blacks in America, as well as campaigning against the Vietnam war. What they came to realise bitterly was that whether it was the oppressor in power, or the oppressed blacks, the women were treated like dirt and as second rate citizens by both. The strategies that were used to keep the blacks repressed, were remarkably similar to those men in general used to repress women.

So these activists upped and started the feminist movement.

Sexual/Textual Politics

Sexual/Textual Politics - the beginning of feminist writing

Kate Millett - Sexual Politics

Katherine M Roger, Mary Ellman

Images of women

And so it goes



Anonymous The Mystic said...

One thing that I always wonder about is what would happen if one day, magically, all women are treated with respect by men and there is no poverty or starvation in the world anymore.Lots of people like Greenpeace and Mother Theresa who have an investment in these issues would have no idea what do to next. They derive their meaning and existence because these evils exist and unconscioulsy dont want things to change cause then they have nothing else to fight for. This sounds very cynical but its worth considering(IMHO).Same with Feminism. It gives feminists a meaning to their life and a goal to fight for but may not have much value beyond that. Just another fad started in the US. But I agree that women deserve to be treated much much better but I dont see how it is going to happen.Not by fighting and competing with men, for sure.

4:36 am  
Blogger m. said...

ohhh yeahh! so THATS why they were beatin up women, rapin em, depriving em of reproductive rights and healthcare, not giving em an education, letting feminisation of poverty and illness build up... all to give those jobless feminists something to do! oh gee... why didnt i think of that before!

if you think thats all feminism is about.... get real.

10:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feminism, in literature, (since that is what this article above is about) is not neccesarily about outright statements and brash arguments. It can be as simple as having your main character be different, break the mold, strive for something more than their peers in the form of freedom. The main character can even be a male, so long as he makes the reader see a different view on the standing of women and their rights. An example of this can be seen in literature as early as Shakespeare, and later on in the Bronte sister's works. Feminism in writing began long before the 60's, that's jst when it got a name.

1:20 pm  
Blogger m. said...

anonymous: youre absolutely right. i havent specified (as i should have) that the term "feminism" in that post referred to basically the movement as it started in america.

looking back, i dont remember if i was conscious then of feminism in my own culture. i was enchanted by the feminist texts i could find, which happened to all be written by white women. (its hard to find contemporary indian feminist writing.) so to me, that was the feminist movement.

it took me more time to research my own culture and realise what you point out. (something that's reflected in the jan 2006 posts - a series on feminism in india! :)) so why just shakespeare? revering the feminine was common to all the old cultures, and so was prevalent from a couple of hundred bc!

6:58 pm  

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