Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Feminist Criticism

Feminist Criticism


A free and autonomous being like all human creatures (a woman) nevertheless finds herself living in a world where man compel her to assume the status of the other. *1


Feminism is the belief in social, political and economic equality of the sexes and a movement organised around the belief *2 that gender should not be the predeterminant factor shaping a person's social identity or sociopolitical or economic rights. Feminist literary criticism affiliates women with two things - one is the representation of women in literature and another is to change the condition of women through making them free from the repressive hindrances. It has great connection with the fundamental attachments of modern literary theory. So, Feminist criticism is a part of the greater movement for women's equality in society.


Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. In examines women's social roles and lived experience and feminist politics in variety of fields."3


Feminism became an organized movement in the 19th century as people increasingly came to believe that women were being treated unfairly. Charles Fourier coined the word féminisme in 1837. He had argued that the extension of women's rights was the general principle of all social progress. At first the feminist movement concentrated on gaining legal equality especially the right to vote, called suffrage. Women in the United States and many European nations finally obtained the vote during the early 1900's. The Feminist movement nearly disappeared after women received the right to vote. During the mid 1900's however increasing the numbers of women entered the labour force. They found them. A new concern with economic and social equality helped to create a revival of the feminist movement in the 1960's. The national list fought to end education and job discrimination against women.


Feminist criticism can be divided into two distinct varieties- (1) the first type is concerned with woman as reader with woman as the consumer of male produced literature and with the ways in which the hypothesis of a female reader changes our apprehension of a given text awakening up to the significance of its sexual codes. (2) the second type is concerned with woman as writer with woman as the produces of textual meaning, with the history, themes, genres and structures of literature by women.


Many feminist thinkers raised their pen againist oppression, suppression and inequality of women. One of them is Wollstonecraft. In her book "A vindication of the Rights of Women," (1792). She describes the state of ignorance in which society kept women. Sarah M. Gimke in her pamphlet "Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman (1838)" placed a powerful argument against the religious leaders.


The Feminist literary criticism of today is the direct product of the "women's movement" of the 1968's. The concern with conditioning and socialization underpins a crucial set of distinctions that between the terms feminist, female and feminine. As Toril Moi explains "a matter of biology' and the third "a set of culturally defined characteristics." *04


Feminism is not a single ideology. Over-time several sub-types of feminist ideology have developed. . Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first-wave feminists, and feminists after about 1960 the second-wave feminists. More recently, a new generation of feminists have started third-wave feminism.


Feminist criticism since the 1970's has been remarkable for the wide range of positions that exist within it debates and disagreements have centered on three particular areas, there being -


1. The role of theory

2. The nature of language and

3. The value or otherwise of psychoanalysis.


Feminist criticism and the role of theory:

The Anglo-Americans maintain a major interest in traditional critical concepts like themes, movie and characterization.


English feminist criticism is, after all, often distinctly different from Americans.


Feminist Criticism and Language:


Virginia Woolf in her essay is gendered so that when a woman turns to novel writing, she finds that there is no common sentence ready for her use she quotes am example and says that is a man's sentence : this has been " subsemstently developed and theorized by feminist critics such as Dale Spenser is "man made language" 1980.


English-speaking feminists are often proponents of using non-sexist language, using "Ms." to refer to both married and unmarried women, for example, or the ironic use of the term "herstory" instead of "history". Feminists are also often proponents of using gender-inclusive language, such as "humanity" instead of "mankind", or "he or she" in place of "he" where the gender is unknown.


Feminist criticism and Psychoanalysis:


The story, feminisms's relationship with psychoanalysis, can be said to begin, like so much else, with Kate Millett's "sexual politics" in 1969 which condemns Freud as a prime source of the patriarchal attitudes againist which feminist must fight.


Postcolonial feminist criticizes certain ideas of western forms of feminism, notably radical feminism and its most basic assumption, universalization of the female experience. They argue that this assumption can not so easily be applied to women for whim gender oppression comes second to, for example racial or class oppression.


Relationship to other movements:


Most feminists take a holistic approach to politics, believing the saying of Martin Luther King Jr., "A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".*5 In that belief, some feminists usually support other movements such as the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and, more recently fathers' rights.


Criticism of Feminist Criticism:

Feminism has attracted attention due to the social changes it has effected in Western society.


Some critics (both male and female) find that some feminists are effectively preaching hate against males or claiming male inferiority, citing that if the words "male" and "female" were replaced by "black" and "white" respectively in some feminist writings, the texts could be viewed as racist propaganda. While some feminists generally disagree with the view that men are equally oppressed under patriarchy, other feminists, especially third-wave feminists agree that men are similarly oppressed and that gender equality means oppression of neither gender.


Some argue that because of feminism, males are beginning to be oppressed. Those who make this claim often note that males die from suicide 4 times more frequently than females attempting suicide in the USA. *6


Many people object to the feminist movement as trying to destroy traditional gender roles. They say that men and women have many natural differences and that everyone benefits from recognizing those differences.


Conclusion: Throughout history, women have usually had fewer rights and lower social status than men. Feminist movement has enabled large groups of women to question and determine their rights and responsibilities.…




01.Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1959.

02. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

03. http://en/

04. Peter Barry, Literary Criticism, 2002, Page 122.

05. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963


1 comment:

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