Feminist criticism


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Feminist criticism

  1. 1. Feminist Criticism by: Juvy Darian Lao-ing MA English
  2. 2. Feminine-[fem’i-nin] adj. pertaining to women; womanly; womanish; (gram) of that gender to which words denoting females belong.- adv. Fem’ininely.-ns fem’inism, the movement to win political, economic and social equality for women; fem’inist, supporter of feminism; femininity, the quality of being feminine. [L femina, woman.]
  3. 3. Critic[krit’ik] n one who appraises literary or artistic work; a faultfinder, adj.critical, relating to criticism; discriminating; captions; at or relating to a turning point, transition, or crisis; decisive.- adv. Crit’ically.-n criti’icalness.- vt crit’icize, to pass judgment on; to censure, -ns crit’icism, the art of judging, esp. in literature or the fine arts; a critical judgment or observation; critique [kri-tek’], a critical examination of any production, a review. [Gr kritikos- krinein, to judge.]
  4. 4. When a school of literary criticism is still evolving, trying to make a definitive explanation of it can be a perilous undertaking. Feminist criticism, for example, is difficult to define because it has not yet been codified into a single critical perspective. Instead, its several shapes and directions vary from one country to another. The premise that unites those who call themselves feminist critics is the assumption that Western culture is fundamentally patriarchal, creating an imbalance of power that marginalizes women and their work. (Ann B. Dobie. Theory into Practice)
  5. 5. Feminist Criticism- A criticism advocating equal rights for women in a political, economic, social, psychological, personal and aesthetic sense: (by Greig E Henderson and Christopher Brown) -comes in many forms, and feminist critics have a variety of goals. Some have been interested in rediscovering the works of women writers overlooked by a masculine dominated culture. (Feminist Criticism and Jane Eyre)
  6. 6. Feminist Criticism- generally assumes, like reader response criticism, that a literary work is shaped by our reading of it, and this reading is influenced by our own status, which includes significantly gender, or our attitude toward gender. But, as feminist point out, since the production and reception of literature has been controlled largely by men, the role of gender in reading and writing has been slighted. The interest and achievements of half of the human race have been neglected-or appreciated largely from only one sex’s point of view. (Steven Lynn)
  7. 7. Historical Background (Ann B. Dobie, Theory Into Practice, an introduction to literary criticism.) -Although the feminist movement stretches back into the nineteenth century, the modern attempt to look at literature through a feminist lens began to develop in the early 1960’s. For centuries Western culture had operated on the assumption that women were inferior creatures.
  8. 8. Aristotle to Darwin-(leading thinkers) reiterated that women were lesser beings, and one does not have to look hard to find comments from writers, theologians and other public figures that disparage and degrade women.
  9. 9. John Chrysostom (345-407 AD)- a Greek ecclesiast called women “a foe to friendship, an inscapable punishment, a necessary evil,” and Ecclesiasticus ( a book of the Apocrypha) states, “All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman.”
  10. 10. Roman Theologian Tertullian (c. 160-230 AD.) lectured women: “The judgment of God upon your sex endures even today; and with it inevitably endures your position of criminal at the bar of justice. You are the gateway to the devil.” -even the book of genesis blames Eve for the loss of paradise. Revered writers of later ages have been equally ungenerous in their descriptions of the nature of women.
  11. 11. Alexander Pope (1688-1744) asserted,” Most women have no character at all,” John Keats (1795-1821) explained,” The opinion, I have of the generality of women- who appear to me as children to whom I would rather give a sugar plum than my time, forms a barrier against matrimony which I rejoice in.”
  12. 12. Women who accepted their lesser status Madame de Stael- French writer is said to have commented.”I am glad that I am not a man, as I should be obliged to marry a woman. Jane Austen, advised, ”A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can,” Mae West- put it, “Brains are an asset, if you hide them,” women are staple of jokes too, too. James Thurber, an often quoted misogynist, once commented for example, “women’s place is in the wrong,”
  13. 13. Feminist Critics note the following: (Liana Cote – Montminy, Slide Share) Women are traditionally represented by one of the following figures (archetypes): A slave A prostitute A virgin A prize
  14. 14. A Slave -the slave need not be a literal slave but just a woman who must serve her man. -the stereotypical housewife who is a “slave” to her family, overworked and underappreciated, is an example of this traditional representation of women.
  15. 15. A Prostitute -Mary Magdalene is a good example of how the prostitute figure is an incorrect representation of women. -Mary is traditionally told to be prostitute who changes her way and follow Jesus. -history now suggests a very different story: That Mary was merely a wealthy widow who was benefactor and believer.
  16. 16. A Virgin -society often labels women either virgin or prostitute -check out every teen movie where female characters are classified either the “good” girl or the “bad” girl rather than having any character development.(ex. The American Pie)
  17. 17. A Prize -every story where a boyfriend, to win a girl’s heart contain this idea. -the short story “araby” by James Joyce contains the female “prize”.
  18. 18. Historical Background/Early Feminism -In the late eighteenth century, one of the earliest feminist writings is Mary Wollstonecraft’s (1792) A vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she depicted women as an oppressed class regardless of social hierarchy. She argued for women to be “duly prepared by education to be the companions of men” and called for the members of her sex to take charge of their lives by recognizing that their abilities were equal to those of men, to define their identities for themselves and to carve out their own roles in society.
  19. 19. John Stuart Mill’s- essay on the subjection of women (1869) is a defense of gender equality in which he attacks the idea that women are incapable of doing things that men can do, and should therefore, be forbidden from doing them.(slide share)
  20. 20. Virginia Woolf (1929) best known as a writer of lyrical and somewhat experimental novels called, A room of One’s Own, it questioned why women appear so seldom in history. Woolf pointed out that poems and stories are full of their depictions, but in real life they hardly seem to have existed. They are absent. In the chapter entitled “Shakespear’s Sister,” she pondered what would have happened to a gifted female writer in the Renaissance. Without an adequate education or a room of her own,” She concluded that whatever she had written would have been twisted and deformed issuing from a strained and morbid imagination.
  21. 21. Wollstonecraft and Woolf- stand out as eloquent spokespersons for women. Along with them are many others whose names are less well known but whose efforts have been important to the development of women’s history, both social and literary.
  22. 22. Elaine Showalter- is said to discover some of the history and has been traced by her, who divided it into three phases, which she called; The feminine phase (1840-1880) The feminist phase (1880-1920) The female phase (1920-present)
  23. 23. In the first phase- female writers imitated the literary tradition established by men, taking additional care to avoid offensive language subject matter. Novelist such as Charlotte Bronte and Mary Ann Evans wrote in the forms and styles of recognized writers, all of whom were male. Sometimes female writers even used men’s name (Currer Bell and George Eliot, for ex.) to hide their female authorship.
  24. 24. In the second phase- according to showalter, protested their lack of rights and worked to secure them. In the political realm, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others pushed to secure equality under the law, and some of the more radical feminists envisioned separate female utopias. In the literary world they denied the unjust depictions of women by male writers.
  25. 25. In the third phase- at its beginning concentrated on exploring the female experience in art and literature. For female writers this meant turning to their own lives for subjects. It also meant that the delicacy of expression that had typified women’s writing began to crumble as a new frankness regarding sexuality emerged. For feminist critics it meant looking at the depiction of women in male text in an effort to reveal the misogyny (negative attitudes toward women) lurking there. These latest efforts Showalter refers to as gynocriticism, a movement that examines the distinctive characteristics of the female experience, in contrast to the earlier methods that explained the female by using male models.
  26. 26. During the third period, a host of important spokespersons have raised public awareness of issues surrounding women’s right, Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex (1949) argued that French culture and western societies in general are patriarchal. In them it is the males who define what it means to be humans. Lacking her own history, the female is always secondary or non-existent. Beauvoir believed that women are not born inferior but made to be so. She called for women to break out of being the “other” and realize their possibilities.
  27. 27. Showalter- acknowledges that today there is no single strand of feminism or feminist criticism, no single feminist approach to the study of literature, but there do seem to be some similarities among feminists in particular countries.
  28. 28. American feminism- which has its stronghold in academia, has worked to add text by female writers to the canon. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, authors of The Madwoman in the Attic (1979) have been influential in American feminist criticism, calling for a recognition that the male writers have too long stereotyped women as either “the angel in the house” (the woman who lives to care for husband) and “the madwoman in the attic,” the woman who chooses not to be the angel. They call for the writing by women, even a woman’s sentence,that will more accurately capture the complexity of women’s lives and nature.
  29. 29. French Feminists- are primarily psychoanalytic. For their theoretical basis they have turned to their fellow countryman Jacques Lacan. They are consequently concerned with the language particularly with how women in the Symbolic Order (a phase of development) are socialized into accepting the language (and law) of the father and thereby made inferior. Helene Cixous goes so far as to assert that there is a particular kind of writing by women that she calls l’ecriture feminine. It has as it source the wholeness of Jacques Lacan’s Imaginary Order, the prelinguistic domain of the female that is characterized by freedom from laws and a sense of “other”.
  30. 30. British Feminists- according to Showalter, generally take the Marxist position. Protesting the exploitation of women in life and literature, which they view as connected by virtue of being parts of the material world, the British feminist critics work to change the economic and social status of women. They analyze relationships between gender and class, showing how power structures, which are male dominated, influence society and oppress women. Like Marxist in general, they see literature as a tool by which society itself can be reformed.
  31. 31. All three groups are gynocentric, trying to find ways to define the female experience, expose patriarchy and save women from being the “other”.
  32. 32. 10 of the Most Powerful Female Characters in Literature
  33. 33. One of the earliest representations of an individualistic, passionate and complex female character, Jane Eyre knocks our socks off. Though she suffers greatly, she always relies on herself to get back on her feet — no wilting damsel in distress here. As China Miéville wrote, “Charlotte Brontë’s heroine towers over those around her, morally, intellectually and aesthetically; she’s completely admirable and compelling. Never camp, despite her Gothic surrounds, she takes a scalpel to the skin of the every day.” Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre
  34. 34. In the Harry Potter books, Hermione starts as an insufferable know-it-all, blossoms into a whip-smart beauty who doesn’t suffer fools (except Ron), and ends up as the glue that holds the whole operation together. Hermione’s steadfastness and sheer intelligence (plus the fact that she’s the only one who has ever read Hogwarts: A History) save her two best friends time and time again, and she’s the only one of the three never to wholly break down in a crisis. Intelligence often translates into strength, but only when wielded by a steady hand — and Hermione just happens to have both, and compassion to boot. That’s our kind of girl. Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series
  35. 35. Chaucer didn’t mean to make the Wife of Bath as big of a character as he did. Early drafts show that her role was meant to be much smaller and more one-dimensional, but somewhere along the line, Chaucer became enamored of his female creation, and eventually her prologue ended up twice as long as her tale. The Wife of Bath is lewd and lascivious — but behind all the dirty jokes, she’s making an argument for female dominance and a woman’s right to control her body, using her considerable rhetorical skill to simultaneously underscore and attack the anti-feminist traditions of the time. Not too shabby for 14th century literature. The Wife of Bath, The Canterbury Tales
  36. 36. Sure, Katniss annoys us to no end with all her boy-related waffling and wailing, but any girl who can shoot like that deserves a place on this list. Not to mention the fact that she survived not one but two 24-person fights to the death, one of which was designed specifically to kill her. We’re just saying. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games trilogy
  37. 37. Though Hester Prynne, who is condemned by her Puritan neighbors for having a child out of wedlock, is sometimes seen as a victim, she manages to survive with dignity and faith throughout, which we think makes her pretty darn powerful. NPR has described her as being “among the first and most important female protagonists in American literature. She’s the embodiment of deep contradictions: bad and beautiful, holy and sinful, conventional and radical… [she] can be seen as Hawthorne’s literary contemplation of what happens when women break cultural bounds and gain personal power.” Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter
  38. 38. Though Tolkien’s novels aren’t exactly known for their female protagonists, who could be more powerful than the woman who killed the Witch-king of Angmar? A shieldmaiden who is itching to defend her countrymen from the first minute we see her, Éowyn disguises herself as a man to follow her friends into battle. Bad guys should be careful making statements like “No living man can kill me” when they’re fighting ladies. Éowyn, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  39. 39. Not only is she the instrumental piece in a literally cosmic war, the unruly and headstrong Lyra, who is twelve years old at the beginning of the trilogy, can do something no one else can: read the alethiometer, which tells her the truth of the present and future. She wins the hearts of those around her through her strong convictions, and earns the name “Silvertongue” after using her wits to fool the unfoolable. After all, words are the most powerful weapons of all. Lyra Silvertongue, His Dark Materials trilogy
  40. 40. A remarkably independent woman, Janie Crawford’s strength is in her ability to keep on going, no matter what her life throws at her, and to uphold her dignity throughout. She challenges the conventions of who should love whom and what leads to a happy life, her experience leading her on a journey towards an acute self-realization. Janie Crawford, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  41. 41. Though you may know Mulan best from the Disney film, she was originally imagined in the 6th century Chinese poem The Ballad of Mulan and has since been reinterpreted in various literary and non-literary forms. Unlike in the Disney version, which features a bumbling girl trying to be a soldier, the traditional figure is a totally bad-ass seventeen year old, already a martial arts and weapons expert — just things she picked up on the side because she was too smart to be totally happy with her life of weaving. She goes to war in place of her father, wins all over the place, and then comes home and returns to her normal life. No big deal. Hua Mulan, The Ballad of Mulan
  42. 42. The powerful female protagonist of the hour is also one of the strongest women on this list. A world class computer hacker with a photographic memory, she’s also the survivor of an abusive childhood, which makes her a fiercely anti-social heroine with a violent streak. Characterized by many as a “feminist avenging angel,” Lisbeth’s brutality is nothing to aspire to — but she sure gets the job done. Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series
  43. 43. Anti Violence Against Women and Children Women in the Philippine are Protected by this Law… RA 9662
  44. 44. Philippine Laws and VAWC The Philippines has a number of laws that can be used to deal with VAWC. Specifically, it has the Anti-VAWC Law, which was passed in 2004, the Anti-Rape Law, and the Law Protecting Children from Abuse and Exploitation. The Anti- Rape Law, lauded internationally for its provisions on marital rape, and for describing rape as a crime against person rather than as a crime of chastity.
  45. 45. Anti VAWC Law (RA 9262) (excerpted from a manual on RA 9262 prepared by SALIGAN and module prepared by DMC- WCPU) The laws seek to address widespread acts of violence directed against women and children, which acts clearly violate their fundamental human rights and several international human rights instruments – for which the Philippine is a signatory.
  46. 46. Under this law, VAWC is defined as: A. Any act or series of acts committed by any PERSON against: 1. a woman who may be the wife/former wife, or with whom the abuser has or had a sexual/dating relationship, or with whom the abuser has a common child; or 2. the woman’s child, whether legitimate or illegitimate. B. The acts are committed within or outside the family residence. C. The acts result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, economic abuse, threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or deprivation of liberty.
  47. 47. The Crime of violence against women is committed through the following acts. A. Causing physical harm to the woman or her child. B. Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm. C. Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm. D. Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm.
  48. 48. E. Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or to desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical, or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or her child. F. Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions.
  49. 49. G. Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. H. Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to repeated verbal and emotional abuse and denial or financial support or custody of minor children or denial of access to the woman’s child/children.
  50. 50. ` End…..