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.
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.