Feminist Criticism: The Gateway to Diversity
To quote the great, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” Feminism. The ideology of women having an equal stand with men. The rise of feminism, in the 18th century, lead to a new form of criticism: feminist criticism. This type of criticism developed with the three waves of feminism.
First wave feminism started in the early 1700s highlighting the inequalities between men and women. The book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, by Mary Wollstonecraft illuminated the way for other first wave activists like Susan B. Anthony. Wollstonecraft wrote about “female rights and manners” and how the “improvement [of women] must not be overlooked.” She criticized the way women continued to be treated and the expectations held in the 18th century social environment. Wollstonecraft also stresses the male domination in the world and women’s struggle to become equal. This expresses the way women are continually oppressed by the patriarchal ideas of male superiority, not just socially, but economically, politically and psychologically. Additionally, revealing the principles of women living in the area where patriarchy reigns they will always be women defined by the male normative and their values. This prompts many feminist literary critics use Wollstonecraft’s theories to examine relationships between male and female characters, specifically the way the male characters treat the female characters also, how female characters interact with each other.
In the Hebrew myth of Genesis 2:18, God creates Adams’ first companion, Lilith. This often forgotten tale exhibits many issues Wollstonecraft exposed. Lil...
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...nning of the novel the women are all portrayed very stereotypical and very oppressed by both their bosses and the world around them. It reveals the way many minorities constantly are under attack by the social circumstances. However, towards the end of the novel the women start to change and come out from under their stereotypes, feminist literary critics praised these aspects of the novel and how the women overcome their racial and gendered oppression. This contemporary literature showed and used many aspects of third wave feminist beliefs as the character progresses through the novel.
As the phases of feminism faded in and out of the spotlight, the goal of feminism and it’s literary criticism stay the same. The ultimate goal is to change the way people see, write and perceive gender issues while also prompting a platform for equal representation.
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