September 16, 2012

Feminist Literary Criticisms

This week we were asked to read Campbell’s “Man Cannot Speak for Her” and Heilbrun “Writing a Woman’s Life.” Having had read this during the week I had to also turn in a Preparatory Exercise about both of these readings. After reading both pieces by Campbell and Heilbrun, I enjoyed reading Campbell’s piece a lot more. Campbell had valid points when she made arguments based on gender rules versus justice. Which then led to feminine style. It reflects the learning experiences of when and if it was a less confrontational violation. It also gives men constrained agency.

However, in Heilbrun’s “Writing a Woman’s Life,” she focused more on the fact that by changing the direction of the issue the woman is trying to articulate, does it effect the content? My answer is that no matter what, women will still be criticized. If a female speaker could be channel her anger, power, authoritative actions, being self-conscious, and aggressive it would normally result in a magnificent speech. However, being the fact that it was a woman speaking and not a man, she will most likely not achieve by getting her point across. Which now leads me to thinking about feminist criticism. A literary criticism informed by feminist theory.

Campbell made a very valid point when she elaborated on the fact that the women’s place was in her home, teaching her children and doing all the cooking and cleaning; being extremely submissive. “Speakers called attention to themselves, took stands aggressively, initiated action, and affirmed their expertise; ‘true women’ were retiring and modest, their influence was indirect and they had no expertise or authority.” Power is something that women adjure once they perceive the great difference between the lives possible to men and women, and the violence necessary to men to maintain their position authority. Also, speech was a very masculine task in which is a very manly trait. Activities requiring such masculine tasks were thought to be “unsex” women. “In other words, women who spoke her “masculinity”; that is, she demonstrated that she possessed qualities traditionally ascribed only to males. It was considered “promiscuous” women sharing podiums with men. “All women must destroy to create.” No woman can take herself for granted because she has yet to create herself. “The hardest fact of all for women to admit and defend: that woman’s selfhood, the right t her own story. 

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