Extreme Depictions of Feminism

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Extreme Depictions of Feminism in John Irving's The World According to Garp and Catherine MacKinnon's Sexuality

In the classroom, in popular culture and in suburbia, to call someone or something 'extreme' is enough to completely eliminate his, her or its credibility. 'Extreme' has become a derogatory comment. In this paper, I will be dealing with two extreme depictions of feminism; one from John Irving's novel The World According to Garp and the other Catherine MacKinnon's essay "Sexuality." It is important to keep in mind that some have argued that the extreme views of any movement for social change are important because they push boundaries and make other voices of the movement sound more reasonable (thus gaining more support).

In my dealings both these works, I want to avoid falling into the defensive trap. While feminists are negatively portrayed in the Irving's novel as extreme, anti-male, and apocalyptic, I want to get past a knee-jerk dismissal of the novel and get at Irving's commentary on the feminist movement because I believe that it can provide valuable insights into feminism. Similarly, I will not automatically run away from MacKinnon's essay because her feminism is so radical. The rhetoric in which MacKinnon phrases her arguments is apocalyptic, and she serves here as my "real" example.

What I find most important is that 'extreme' is not automatically a dismissal. I do not want to lose track of this position because it can work as a counter-text to some of my arguments within this paper. Both of these depictions are compelling, they seduce their reader, if only momentarily, into believing their portrait of feminism. I can only speak for myself in reporting reactions to these texts. I found "Sexuality" per...

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