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Feminist Criticism

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Jaymie Muncaster

on 3 April 2013

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Transcript of Feminist Criticism

What is it? Simone de Beauvoir Application Cinderella When Using Feminist Criticism When analyzing a piece of
literature using feminist criticism
there are key questions to ask to get started:

-What are the stereotypes in this story?
- how are the females characterized?
-what role do women play?
- are the women major or minor roles?
- are women dominant?
-what attitudes are expressed by men and
women about women?
- how do men talk to and about women?
- how do women talk with men? Feminist Criticism is used to study the ways in which literature reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women.

Feminist critics also look at certain things within a story: the diction, style and/or voice of a female writer opposed to a male, the balance or imbalance of power, the female character's experience in comparison to the male's, and the personalities, education, childhood experiences and things that define the female's identity. Simone de Beauvoir was a french writer, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Her major theoretical contribution to feminism in the 1960s was her book "The Second Sex." It stressed the importance of women not losing their identity or sense of self to those of men. He writings were an inspiration in a time of great oppression for women and they, along with her biographies, were greatly studied in the 1960s and 1970s from a feminist point of view. Feminist Criticism The perfect form of literature to analyze when using feminist criticism are the Disney princess stories. Each story conveys a sense of oppression and empowerment of women. The story of Cinderella is a great form of literature to analyze through a feminist lens as it includes the most classic negative stereotypes for women. There are three waves of feminist criticism: You should then examine the
author, genre and subject
matter:
- What were the authors ideas
on the female situation and
feminism?
- was the authors position impacted by their history?
- was it impacted by the history of the time? First, let's look at one of the most empowering and nontraditional Disney princesses; Mulan. Mulan is a very powerful story about a girl who secretly takes her father's place as a soldier in the war. She disguises herself as a man because she would otherwise be denied in the male dominant world she lives in. Mulan ends up being one of the greatest warriors in history even after her secret is revealed. The following are examples of empowerment and oppression of women in Mulan: Empowerment:
- had capability and courage
- equal ability to men
-takes charge of her own life
-not driven by finding her "prince charming"/doesn't need him
- women can make a better man than men themselves
-does not fit gender role
-unconventional for her time and culture
-seen as more intelligent than the men
-male characters respect her
- father says "the greatest gift and honour, is having you for a daughter." giving great recognition to women Oppression:
- very male oriented world
- only men can fight in the war
- very specific gender roles
- little respect for women from men before Mulan's secret is revealed
- speak poorly of women and that they are "weak" while men are seen as the most strong Mulan Step Mother
- women are cruel and jealous creatures
- women marry for money
-women are self conscious and self-consumed Step Sisters:
- jealousy
-women can be unintelligent and useless
-women are self-conscious and self-consumed
- women are dramatic Cinderella:
- women need men (prince charming to rescue her)
- women are weak and let people boss them around
- takes on all traditional female roles (cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc.)
- women are only valued for their looks and talents Snow White The last Disney princess we're going to analyze is Snow White. We're going to compare the original Snow White story to the newest version, Snow White and The Huntsman, and see how Snow White as a character differs in relation to the time period. Original Snow White (1937):
Much like the traditional woman at this time, snow white was an elegant, lady-like, modest woman who took on a motherly role (cooking, cleaning, caring for dwarfs.) When the evil Queen tried to kill her she had to rely on the dwarfs for protection. Once the spell was cast on her, only a man, Prince Charming, could save her.

Snow White and The Huntsman (2012):
In this film you can see the drastic change of gender roles within society. Snow White is seen as a strong, powerful and daring individual. She independently flees the kingdom and fends for herself. She trains with swords and learns how to fight so in the end she can inspire her own warriors and battle the Queen herself. All things that would be unheard of at the time of the Original Movie. First wave: late 1700's - early 1900's. it began in the United Kingdom and the United States. The main focus of this movement was to officially mandate equalities. Some feminists during the time were Luck Stone, Susan B. Anthony and Mary Wollstonecraft. The first wave was said to have ended when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, giving women the right to vote. The victory from this movement also included reforms in education, in the workplace and in healthcare. Second wave: early 1960's - late 1980's. this wave focused on the unofficial inequalities. This wave encouraged women to understand aspects of their own lives. This wave had a great deal to do with women and politics. There was a group formed in 1966 known as the National Organization for Women (NOW) which advocated feminist political activism. Writers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Elaine Showalter established the base for the feminist theories along with the help of the American Civil Rights movement. "What would Prince Charming have for an occupation if he had not to awaken the sleeping beauty?" - Simone de Beauvoir, The second Sex Third wave: early 1990's - present. There had been left a feeling of failure throughout the first two waves so the third wave rose to respond to this feeling. It is also thought that this wave was a response to backlash and unexpected movements created by the second wave. This wave uses the over simplified ideologies of a white, heterosexual, middle class focus of the second wave and expands it using all races, and classes. Using a feminist criticism approach, we evaluated the pros and cons of the Disney Princesses: Pros: - Mulan set good examples for young children on how to be independent, strong, disciplined and to stand up for what they believe in.
- Cinderella teaches young children how to politely deal with people even if they treat you poorly.
- Snow white shows young girls how to be elegant and lady-like as well as how to care for and treat the ones you love. The movie also teaches kids not to accept gifts from strangers. Cons: - Can cause children to be self conscious and think that beauty is everything.
- Teach kids bad behaviour
-Instill negative stereotypes about women into the minds of children (ex. women should cook and clean for men, women need men to keep them safe.)
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