Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Feminism and literature

The Madonna. The Whore. The Hysterical Woman. 
Hysterical - hysterectomy: specific female madness. Where is the Penisterical Man?

In a lecture today we discussed feminism and literature. We looked at different ways women are featured in literature, as characters and as authors, and their place in the canon (or lack of.) One of the biggest issues raised was how women write women without falling into inherent patriarchal stereotypes that they have been brought up with. 

And, of course, that got me thinking about my women. I don't want to reflect on them afterwards and blame my mistakes on 'the patriarchy' - I want to train myself to think critically about how I portray women. The way I write currently is not particularly conducive to this; I tend to go into a trance and let the words come out, and I have a variety of female characters that could probably easily be categorised as some sort of stereotype. Oops? 

Is it possible to rectify this without sacrificing voice, style, characterisation? Is it possible to have the perfect, non-stereotyped female literary figure? Is it? 

Maybe not. And I don't think there is just one worldwide patriarchy, either. So maybe we just need enough women to write enough different women to allow a crisscrossing network of so-and-so's character linked to such-and-such patriarchy, so that it all becomes confusing and the critics hold up their hands and say 'enough!' Women can write women however they need and want to for their stories (and for that matter, so can men.)

This is a touchy subject, highly flammable. Any thoughts?

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