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Transcript of Feminism
& Gender Studies
Bryce Baker & Lucius Bynum
What is Feminism?
Table of Contents
The Origins of Feminism/Gender Studies
Hélène Cixous, Julia Kristeva, Lucs Irigaray
Feminist Theory Across Cultures
Feminist Theory Across Cultures
Most well-known representative of the Anglo-American approach
Coined the term "gynocritics," meaning the study of books by women (gynotexts)
Reading as a Woman
"To read as a woman is to avoid reading as a man, to identify the specific defenses and distortions of male readings and provide correctives."
Questions to Consider
Reading as a Man vs. as a Woman
Origins of Feminism
Though feminism began long before the mid-20th century, the ‘women’s movement’ of the 1960s heavily influenced modern feminism
Many feminists consider the early to mid-1980s as the time feminist criticism became academically legitimate
Focus is mostly on language, representation, and psychology
Language (public discourse) is phallocentric, privileging patriarchal culture
Just as a woman’s pleasure is more complex and diffuse than a man’s pleasure, a woman’s writing is more complex (less direct) and diffuse than a man’s writing
Draws from post-structuralism and psychoanalysis
Cora Kaplan, Catherine Belsey
Focus is on close textual reading/explication and historical authorship
In some ways a critique of male-constructed history
Emphasis on historical data, whether literary or not–diaries, memoirs, and social and medical history
The birth of Gynocentrism
Focuses more on rediscovering female writers and women’s culture and history
Emphasizes that women have developed unique strategies for gaining power in an oppressive society (many take issue with this view, saying it mystifyies male oppression)
Rejected the suggestion (implied by many feminists) that “male dominance” was a permanent condition
British feminists held that gender stereotypes often ignore other differences among women, including race, class, and culture
Women are something else as much as they are female, with a unique race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
Sometimes called "socialist feminism" because of its alignment with Marxism
Much modern feminist literary criticism is a melting pot of French, Anglo-American, and British feminism
Different approaches to feminism have influenced each other so much that a large number of feminist approaches are no longer associated with specific geographical boundaries
Reading as a Man
"Above all, I think no man should seek in any way to diminish the authority which the experience of women gives them in speaking about that experience, and I believe that women should be very wary of critical systems that deny or diminish that authority."
Questions to Consider
Is language gendered? Is there an inherently feminine form of language?
How does the text itself determine what it means to be a man or a woman?
If there is an inherently feminine form of language, do men have access to it?
"The Laugh of the Medusa" Hélène Cixous
"Reading as a Man" Robert Scholes
"Reading as a Woman" Jonathan Culler
"Feminist and Gender Criticism" Bedford St. Martin's Series
"The Laugh of the Medusa"
L'écriture féminine: often characterized by loose grammatical structure and layered meaning
"Woman must put herself into the text–as into the world and into history–by her own movement."
"...you can't talk about
female sexuality, uniform, homogeneous, classifiable into codes..."
Expresses the layered multiplicity of meaning within infinitely expressive feminine writing
"Write, let no one hold you back, let nothing stop you: not man; not the imbecilic capitalist machinery, in which publishing houses are the crafty, obsequious relayers of imperatives handed down by an economy that works against us and off our backs; and not
. Smug-faced readers, managing editors, and big bosses don't like the true texts of women–female-sexed texts. That kind scares them."
Feminism concentrates on women and women's issues
Gender criticism concentrates on and compares the male and female sexes and the masculine and feminine genders
One of the most prominent questions that both feminists and gender critics deal with concerns what it actually means to be male or female
Feminism in Salt
Symbolic vs. Semiotic
She defined language as having two main aspects
Kristeva called l'écriture feminine the "semiotic" aspect of language
Symbolic Language: language associated with order, authority, normalcy, fathers, repression, and control/holds (falsely) that one's self is unified and unchanging (Barry 123-124).
Semiotic Language: language that does not follow order or logic, characterized by ambiguity and 'slippage' (Barry 123-124).
The symbolic aspect of language is the external part–the structure and mechanics of language. The semiotic aspect of language is internal–the ever-uncertain, ambiguous, shifting meaning of signifiers and signifieds.
Social pressures limit women's power
Mobility only achievable by men
Women stuck in a domestic sphere
Women that defy patriarchal rule are quickly punished
Ex: Sophia Grangerford's decampment of the house starts a feud that ultimately kills her brother Buck
Women write in
Talk around and around the subject before getting to the point
Men write in
Get to the point quickly
Salt (Jolie) does NOT follow the preset binaries that exist in the gender world (agrees with constructionism).
A Simplified, Not Necessarily True Example
According to Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen Silber
She's The Man (2006)
Women are essentially different from men
Femininity is a matter of biology and is thus not learned or attained through social influences
The differences between men and women are not based on the nature of the male or female sex but on the environmentally and socially created differences between the male and female gender
Femininity is a social construct, not a natural, innate quality
Feminist criticism is commonly categorized into various geographically-delineated branches...
The Role of the