February 26, 2007

Feminism: Take Two

"One can argue, of course, that a woman reader can suspend her femaleness and appreciate great works which have male protagonists (and objectified women) when the protagonists are wrestling with univeral human problems. In other words, one can argue that one can transcend one's sex in appreciating a literary work" (Donovan 230).

I'm seeing some overlapping with the Kolodny essay here. Apparently, this is a pretty universal thought: not only do men and women not see eye-to-eye on a variety of subjects (including the need and usefullness of having investing large amounts of money on designer purses), but we can't even read the same literature. Perhaps we should have two different sections of the bookstore- those for books with "male" themes and another side for ones with "female" themes. I'd hate to get confused and read something that I might not "understand".

I'm not sure where this huge shifting of thoughts and ideas came from when reading literature, but I'm not 100% sure I agree. Just like the Kolodny essay, one shouldn't have to "learn" how to read a piece of literature just because it was written by a man or a woman. While the storylines and plot may differ, there are universal elements that can be found in literature written by either gender. Men may convey a meaning by writing about it with male-themed symbolism, and a woman with her own version of female symbolism, but they can still be the same theme and idea. Why make this huge distinction between the two?

Additionally, feminist readers, like Donovan in "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as Moral Criticism", are concerned with the way women are portrayed in the literature written by males since, well, it isn't often the most flattering of pictures. Women were often written, the "traditional" (male-written) literture as either insignificant to the plot or a seductress, representing evil. Yet, and I stress this in every lit class where feminism comes up (ie all of them), this is how it was when the works were created. Sure, it wasn't great, or fair, or morally correct, but that's how it was. Men did the writing, women did the sinning (I don't support this idea, so I don't want angry comments- I'm just summing up the feelings of the era here). And although we can pick apart these works and chastise them for being so horribly wrong, at the time, they seemed perfectly fine. The strong feminism we see now just wasn't around in the past...so why apply our modern views on a historic piece?

Donovan, ''Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at February 26, 2007 8:23 PM | TrackBack

I agree, why bother to stir a subject that's been beaten to DEATH? What happened in the past STAYS in the past (like my Spring Break shirt that I'm digging out next week!). We can't fix it, no matter how many bras we burn, or no matter how many movies we make about men in drag who realize being a woman is harder than they think (sorry, I watched Mrs. Doubtfire over the weekend and realized there are an awful lot of movies out there of this particular type).

So why bother to pick apart works from the time period to stress what we already know and what we've already resolved? Yes, I can think of circumstances in today's day and age when women are abused or negatively treated, but the men that abuse women or the cultures that mistreat women are not going to have sudden revelations by reading a literary criticism piece about it. In the meantime, those of us who ARE reading the literary criticism piece are left to think...oh (wo)man, feminist readings...here comes another chick who can't keep her bra on.

Feminist readers are a little scary to me.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at February 26, 2007 9:12 PM

I agree. They might come to our doors with steel-toed boots and hyphenated married names and kick our asses. I do feel more for this woman than Kolodny, but I agree with you that this is more about time era than anything. Either way, women still do alot of changing of men's perceptions even in media today.

Posted by: Erin at February 28, 2007 2:05 PM

Remember what I did to my Keesey book after reading Kolodny? Well, you should see it now.

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 28, 2007 8:44 PM
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