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COMPILATION OF WRITTEN REPORTS ON FEMINIST CRITICISM

BAJ 2 – 2N
Aguas, Shaine Irish Q.
Carmen, Joy Rencel E.
Esmilla, John Alfred E.
Guiral, Angela Nicole R.
Lapus, Francheska Nicole A.
Carmen, Joy Rencel E.
BAJ 2 - 2N
Group 3 (Feminist Criticism)

TOPIC: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF FEMINISM

A. What is feminism?

It can be used to describe a political cultural or economic movement aimed at


establishing equal rights and legal protection for women.

Feminism involves political and sociological theories and philosophies concerned with
issues of gender difference, as well as a movement that advocates gender equality for
women and campaigns for women's rights and interest.

Although the term "feminism" and "feminist" did not gain widespread use until the
1970s, they were already being used in the public parlance much earlier for instance,
Katherine Hepburn speaks of the "feminist movement" in the 1942 film Woman of the
Year.

B. History

 Simone de Beauvoir - a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher,


political activist, social theorist and feminist. She wrote that the "first time we see
a woman take up her pen in defense of her sex" was Christine de Pizan who
wrote Epitre au Dieu d' Amour (Epistle to the God of Love) in the 15th century.
 Christine de Pizan - a French author. She's best remembered for defending
women in The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies.
 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi worked in the 16th
century.
 Marie Le Jars de Gournay, Anne Bradstreet and François Poullain de la
Barre wrote during the 17th.

They belong to the feminist activists who have campaigned for women's legal rights
(rights of contract, property rights, voting rights); for women's right to bodily integrity and
autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to
contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection of women and girls from
domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights (including
maternity leave and equal pay) against mysogyny and against other forms of fender
specific discrimination against women.

Feminists and Scholars including Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, have divided the
movement's history into three "waves."
 1ST WAVE - refers mainly to women's suffrage movements of the 19th and early
20th centuries (mainly concerned with women's right to rule).
 2ND WAVE - refers to the ideas and actions associated with the women's
liberation movement beginning in the 1960s (focused on campaigning for legal
and social rights for women).
 3RD WAVE - refers to a continuation of, and a reaction to the perceived failures
of, second-wave feminism beginning in the 1990s and extends to the present.
Lapus, Francheska Nicole A.
BAJ 2 - 2N
Group 3 (Feminist Criticism)

TOPIC: QUEER THEORY

A. Introduction
 Under the feminism criticism is the queer theory that first establish in early 1990’s
out of fields of queer studies and women’s studies.
 Queer theory was inspired by the black women who stand for their equality
among middle-class white women in 1980’s.
 Also, queer theory was established when the early queerist noticed that feminism
before, only continue to privileged the heterosexual and exclusive gay woman.
They want equality among all the gender existing in the society, the gay,
bisexual, lesbian, queer or the odd.

WHAT IS QUEER THEORY?


 A critical analysis and understanding that focuses on sexual differences.
It opened the mind of readers to the different gender we have in the society. Moreover,
this study break the idea that identity was cage in the traditional known gender, the
male and female.

 Challenge society traditional view of sexual identities.


It challenge the societies’ knowledge with the different gender or identity existing in the
community with the aims to oppose those homophobic and heterosexual privileged.

 It looks at any kind of identity or behavior that would fall outside of the ‘typical
mainstream’ or might be considered ‘other’ or deviant.
It examines the people behaviour, attitude and action that may be odd from the ‘usual’.

WHO ARE THE QUEERS?


 The "odd" or "different" or the genders which in not include from 'usual' - the male
and female.
Even though this theory has a word 'queer' it doesn’t mean that the study will only
focuses with the works of gay lesbian but rather the works of the possible genders and
identity in the society. This study is more flexible and inclusive than the queers as gay
and lesbian alone.
B. Queer Theorist
To make the queer theory possible there are females theorist who contribute and share
their ideas and perspective about gender and identity.

KATE MILLET
 Kate millet is an American feminist writer, educator, artist and activist.
 In the late 1960’s she drawn in the distinction of:
Sex: as a biological determination
Gender: as a socially constructed
Millet explained that sex is stable, if you are born male u have the male sex organ and
physique and etc. same with the female. Sex unlike gender is fixed. On the other hand,
she explain that gender is a social where it can be alter due to the changing convention.

 Opposed the assertions of essentialism and supported social constructivism


Early queesrist like her even opposed to essentialism or the idea that a person's identity
is composed of fixed unchanging properties. They instead support that identity form by
the culture on which one is born.

JUDITH BUTLER
 She’s an American philosper and gender theorist
 She published a book entitled Gender Trouble, wherein she explain the need to
break the line between categories of sex and gender so that all forms identity
can be accepted and celebrated.
For butler things should not be more complicated by putting a tag and defining what is
gender and identity but people shoud simply focuse breaking the exaggeration of
feminism and masculinity.

 Identity is performative
Gender and identity: is what a persons does a particular times.
She also argues that the identity performative, wherein she strongly believes that what a
person does at particular time determine their identity and gender. Or as simple as that
our identities does not define by expressing our core or our self but it’s the more on
dramatic effect of our performance. "Your behavior creates your gender."

EVE SEDGWICK
 Sedgwick is an American queer theory and critical theorist
 She also known for writing the book Epistemology of The Closet.
Wherein she opposed the binary distinction of homosexual and heterosexual due to she
believe its dependent to each other. It cannot understood homosexual without
heterosexual on the other hand, Sedgwick doesn’t want the homosexual to overpower
the hetero if people will stick in using the two binary in determining individuals gender
identity. Equality among all gender is her priority.

 Identity: is a complex mixture of choices, life experiences and professional roles.


 And her main goals is to create a more humane world in which differences
among people are not just tolerated but accepted

To sum it up, queer theorist view each individuals not just as male or female but also
the collection of all possible gender and all forms of identities. Also, it informed the
society before and until now about their ideas that that identity is neither stable nor
static but its dynamic which is can be varies depends on once environment, class and
race.

And of course, it reminds everyone that queers, gay lesbian or individual who part of
LGBTQ+ community are no longer a taboo topic. It's already time to discuss and
address issues about gender sensitivity and identity.

C. What are the applications that queer theory has to offer to literary
criticism?

Like those which apply in real-life and experiences…


 The queer theory will look at gender, sexual practices, Identity, defining choices,
sexual stereotyping, assumed norms, types of masculinity and femininity, and
other such issues.
 He or she examines lesbian and gay episode in canonical works (especially
those instances that previously been ignored or explains away) and expose
homophobic literary practices.
 He or she need to identify works of gay and lesbian writers as well as increase
the reading public's appreciation of them.

***Although queer theory is more focused social reformation than on literary analysis, it
still has a placed on literary criticism.

YOU CAN ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS TO APPROACH THE TEXT AS A


QUEER THEORY CRITIC:
 Does the work challenge traditional ways of viewing sexuality and identity?
 Does it depict human sexuality as more complex than the essentialist terms male
and female suggest?
 What ranges of male and female identity do you find?
 Does the work assumed an essiantialist view of gender―that is, does it accept
that there is fixed, unchanging self?
 Does the work or narrator assume that the self is constructed one?
 If the self is assumed to be constructed, what performative acts construct a
character’s identity?
 What sexual topics do you find in the work that are odd or pellicular— that is
queer?
 Where is gender destabilized? What destabilizes is?
 Does the work show how sexual identities are determininate, overlapping,
changing? If so, where?
 Does the work complicate what it means to be homosexual or heterosexual?
AGUAS, Shaine Irish Q.
BAJ 2 – 2N
Group 3 (Feminist Criticism)

TOPIC: READING AS A FEMINIST (INTRODUCTION AND STUDIES OF


DIFFERENCE)

A. Reading as a Feminist

Feminist criticism has many strands. Those critics hold some general approaches in
common but they look at literary history to:
 Rediscover forgotten texts by women
 Reevaluate other texts
 Examine cultural contexts

THE FEMINIST CRITICS:


 Analyse the male/female power structure that makes women the other (the
inferior), and reject it.
 Works to abolish limiting stereotypes of women because they seek to expose
patriarchal premises and prejudices they create.
 They challenge traditional, static ways of seeing gender and identity.

BY CHANGING THE LITERATURE AND THE WAYS TO READ IT, THEY HOPE TO
CHANGE THE WORLD SO THAT EVERYONE IS VALUED AS A CREATIVE,
RATIONAL BEING.

That makes feminist critics as highly ideological and visionary. The sprawling nature of
feminist studies has created different perspectives grouping it into several overlapping
approaches.

3 MAJOR GROUPS OF FEMINIST CRITICS


 Those who study difference
 Those who study power relationships
 Those who study the female experience

B. Studies of Difference

Feminist critics who are interested in determining the differences in male and female
writing work from the assumption that gender determines everything, including value
systems and language but not all feminist critics agree with this because they recognize
that historically the concept of female difference has resulted in an assumption of
female inferiority. Meaning to say, they argue that difference should no longer be an
issue.
 Studying difference is about comparing and contrasting what men and women
write and how they write it.
 They examine not only the subject but also voice – the individual style in which a
certain author writes his or her works; syntax – refers to the way in which words
and sentences are placed together; diction – simply the choice of words, the style
of speaking or writing determined by the choice of words by the speaker or writer.

Letters of Abigail Adams and her husband John

The works of the female writers in the forms they have traditionally turned to such as
journals and letters are worthy of study. An example of this is the correspondence
between Abigail Adams, and her husband, John who was away from home because of
the Revolutionary War, is an example of the sorts of texts that interest feminist critics.

The letters allow the voice of Abigail, a woman who had so much to say that needs to
be heard. She’s not likely to write about politics or poems about troops to battle. Her
letters are the “typical” kind of writing women have always done. Feminist critics believe
that these writings constitute literature.

The correspondence between Abigail and John Adams is interesting because of the
contrast of content as well as the style of the two writers.

Male (John) Female (Abigail)


Speaks in the third person Uses the pronoun I.
Puts little reference about his feelings Explicitly stating her feelings
Impersonal Personal
Objective Subjective
Implicit Explicit

If you are interested in studying differences in the writing of men and women, you will
find it helpful to consider the following questions:
 Has the writer chosen to write in a genre typical of male or female writers of the
period?
 Do you consider the content of the piece typical or atypical of a male or female
writer?
 Does the voice sound characteristic of a male or female writer? That is, is it
personal or impersonal, subjective or objective, implicit or explicit?
GUIRAL, Angela Nicole R.
BAJ 2 – 2N
Group 3 (Feminist Criticism)

TOPIC: READING AS A FEMINIST (STUDIES OF POWER AND THE FEMALE


EXPERIENCE)

A. Studies of Power

 Virginia Woolf, an English writer, is widely considered as the most important


feminist and modernist writer of all time. Most of her works broaches the topic of
sociological feminism, and her ideas became more apparent and overt with
today’s outspoken feminists.

Today’s feminists complain about the imbalance of power between the sexes, and
blame it on the economic system. They say that women are oppressed by a group that
consciously works to hold them down through its ideology.

 Michèle Barrett, on the other hand, writes from a Marxist point of view and
argues that the way households and families are organized is related to the
division of labor in a society, the systems of education, and the roles men and
women play in the culture.

Barrett was inspired with Woolf’s belief that conditions under which men and women
produce literature affect how they write and what they write about; and because of that,
argues that gender stereotyping is then tied to material conditions.

FEMINIST CRITICS: YES TO INCLUSIVITY

 Feminist critics who are interested in examining and protesting power


relationships of men and women in literature have expanded their focus to
include a number of subgroups that have also been marginalized in society.

Rather than solely focusing on men and women, critics have expanded their horizons
and looked at writers from different cultures and races. For example: blacks (African
Americans and other people of color), Hispanics, Asian Americans, American Indians,
Jews, and lesbians.

Within this marginalized groups, however, there is still an imbalance of power. Some
blacks, describe critics as racists and misogynists, object to the amount of attention paid
to black male writers (instead of black female writers), and even charge white feminist
critics with being interested only in white, upper-middle-class women.
 The common thread uniting these disparate groups is the belief that the social
organization has denied equal treatment to all its segments and that literature is
a means of revealing and resisting that social order.

Majority of the critics believe that art and life are fused entities; thus, we have to make
sure we to work against stereotyping in general by putting our ideas in our artworks.

Studies of power as depicted in literature often begin with the following


questions:

 Where do you find an imbalance of power among the characters?


 Who are the powerful ones, and who are the powerless? Are the latter women
and/or minority figures?
 What divisions of labor exist between men and women in the work?
 Does the work resist a social order that denies equal treatment to all? Or does it
accept it?

B. Studies of the Female Experience

REJECTING BINARY POSITIONS


 Freudian theory a basis for resisting the idea of a stable “masculine” authority or
truth. Rejecting the idea of a male norm, against which women are seen as
secondary and derivative, they call for a recognition of women’s abilities that
goes beyond the traditional binary oppositions, such as male/female and the
parallel oppositions of active/passive and intellectual/emotional.

EXAMPLE: The character of Abigail Adams (from the Letters of Abigail Adams and
her husband John)
 Abigail is the nurturing caretaker of the family, fulfilling the expected,
stereotypical female role. She offers to copy and send the instructions for the
“proportions of the various sorts of powder fit for cannon, small-arms, and pistols”
if it would be useful to John, in her letters.
 However, Abigail is more than just a helpmate or facilitator. She is a thinking
individual, one who reverses the rational/irrational binary. John engages in a
serious conversation with her about “Dunmore,” and it is clear that he values her
intellectual grasp of the situation.
 Her accounts of the work she does to maintain the household—making clothes,
soap, and perhaps saltpeter—are evidence of the reversal of the active/passive
binary often invoked in regard to male/female. She is a hardworking, involved,
industrious woman, without whose efforts and energies the family, and by
extension the society, could not survive.
To study the nature of the female personality and experience in literature, you can begin
by asking the following questions:
 Where do characters speak with mannerisms that seem to be characteristically
female, such as unfinished sentences, silences, exclamations?
 Does the text include images of motherhood or references to goddesses that
suggest creativity and power?
 Do you find the female characters conforming to expected norms? Are they
nurturing, giving, passive, emotional?
 Are there reversals of the expected norms? Do some female characters take on
what are considered to be masculine characteristics?
 According to this work, what does it mean to be female?