We started class doing the thesis workshop which was pretty helpful but not interesting to talk about so I shall quickly move on.
Once that was done it was time to crush the patriarchy with Feminist Criticism. Feminism, which contrary to popular belief is not about women taking over and making men slaves (hatred of men is called misandry), is a very complicated topic with a lot to discuss. Professor Scanlon talked about the different types of feminist critique and the different levels of critique. There is the gynocriticism which mainly deals with how women are objectified in literature and other mediums of pop culture. We also discussed French feminism. French feminism is more concerned with the body and the use of feminine language. Thinking of language as masculine is a little hard to do but try to imagine how many times you were told to man up or to grow a pair. I’ve heard both plenty of times and I’m a cis female. Just those two sayings instill in us that men are strong and independent and to be less than that is like becoming a woman. (and who wants that?) There are many more subtle examples of masculine language. French feminism leads us to l’ecriture feminine(women’s writing). In women’s writing they focus on the sensory experiences of a woman more than a man which leads to plots with more than one climax as oppose to a story whose whole point is to get us to that one moment of intensity then to drop quickly to exposition.
The three main names to know are Cixous, Kristeva, and Irigaray. Irigaray’s idea that women are meant to be men’s mirror and not an individual person is really interesting to me. An idea I thought connected to that theory will is a popular feminist movie test called the Bechdel Test. The test has only three points to show if a movie did a good job handling its female characters. The first requirement is that it has to have at least two [named] women in it. Women are about 50% of the population and all women have names so it is really sad that two named females is the standard we are shooting for. The second is a little harder but it’s basically that two of the women need to talk to each other. Basically, the women need to interact with someone other than men at on point. Again, not a hard qualification at all. The third, and my personal favorite, is that when the women talk their conversation has to be about something other than men. I know, I know, how ridiculous is it that some people think women have ideas and thoughts other than about men? Nonsense! If you are sitting there thinking that this test is ridiculous and unnecessary because there are certain situations where female characters do not fit in and sure that might be some but the situations are rare and not common enough to support the amount of movies that miserably fail this simple test. Think about your favorite movies, do they pass the test? chances are it does not and that’s because media treats women characters as being useful for males.
In idea that we touched on in class is what being a feminist means. Does it mean being strong and powerful or is that just trying to be a man? Is it feminist to want to be a mother and follow traditional gender roles? If feminism is all about celebrating women why does it seem most feminists view overly feminine women as holding them back and supporting the patriarchy? When did feminists begin to hate the feminine? All intense and interesting questions with no real answers. I leave you with a feminist poem that is super amazing and everyone should listen to it.