Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Literary Theory: Feminist Literary Theory

Category Feminism, Feminist, Gender
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Women have been suffering since the beginning of the history because of patriarchal order. Feminism is a clash of women against patriarchy. Suffering of women created the concept of feminism as a gender based political and social movement. In public and private sphere, women have been facing economic, political, cultural, legal, administrative and social inequalities. This problem directly hits the order of the society. (Zembat, 2017)

According to Harrison and Boyd, it is an obvious point that half of humanity has always been women, obvious, that is, until one considers how few women appear on lists of ‘great people’ who have shaped the course of human history. As some feminists describe it History as ‘His-story’ is that of men and their doings.

Women, if they appear at all, do so as a support for men, or as suffering the consequences of war and disaster. Rarely, they appear as rulers in their own right, often characterized by male historians as endowed with particular viciousness and ruthlessness, qualities common in men but ‘unseemly’ in women.

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Feminism is one of the most recent ideologies to emerge, although its origins can be traced far back into history. In Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics which was written by Gloria Jean Watkins or better known by her pen name bell hooks which was published in 2000 shares her simple definition of feminism. “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression”.

According to Dr. Susan Currie Sivek, “Feminism is a movement that seeks equality for people of any gender. It is founded on the belief that people should be able to pursue any opportunity and demonstrate any characteristic regardless of gender.” Her definition of feminism means that both men and women can be feminists. Feminism is in favor of equality between genders, not dominance of women over men.

As stated by Pasque and Wimmer in "An Introduction: Feminist Perspectives", which was developed by them, Feminism is a complex notion that has vast differences in meaning and connotation for people pning generations, ethnic identities, sexual orientations, social classes, nationality, and myriad identities. It is not a static notion; rather it evolves with us throughout our lives and is shaped by the various lenses we use to view the world at large and, most importantly, ourselves.

While in different dictionaries, feminism is defined as the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. It is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. It is also a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that share a common goal which is to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. This is the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.

Feminist on the other hand, is a person who believes and supports feminism or the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men and tries to achieve change that helps women to get equal opportunities and treatment. A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. If someone objects strongly to women being paid less than men for doing the same job, he's probably a feminist.

If you believe that women should have the same political, social, and economic rights as men, you are a feminist. It has absolutely nothing to do with putting down men or boys in order to elevate the status of women. The word feminist comes from feminism, which originally meant simply "being feminine," or "being a woman," but gained the meaning "advocacy of women's rights" in the late 1800s.

“Femin-” comes from the Latin root word “femina,” meaning woman. “-ism” is a suffix derived from the Greek word “ισμός” or “ismós” that turns the preceding noun into a verb, implying a belief, practice, or worldview. The first recorded use of the word in English was 1851, but at that time it just meant “the state of being feminine.” Then, in 1837, French philosopher and utopian socialist Charles Fourier coined the word “féminisme” to mean advocacy of women’s rights.

It is called feminism and not equalism or humanism even if it’s pro-equality because historically, “feminism” the idea and “feminism” the word rose in popularity together during the U.S. women’s suffrage movement of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, which was focused on getting women the right to vote. Since this was a problem only hurting women, the name made sense. As time has gone on, the goals have evolved but the name has stuck.

Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for her literary piece, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" in 1792, in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. This Theory of Feminism believes that women are as capable and as rightly entitled as men and which is hereby abolished the beliefs that women are weaker than men.

All in all, feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.

Feminist theory exists in a variety of disciplines, emerging from these feminist movements and including general theories about the origins of inequality, and, in some cases, about the social construction of sex and gender. It is the extension of feminism into theoretical or philosophical discourse and it also aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. It aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. It examines women's and men's social roles, experiences, interests, chores, and feminist politics in a variety of fields.

Feminist criticism is a form of literary criticism that is based on feminist theories. It is broadly explained as the politics of feminism and uses feminist principles to critique the male-dominated literature. The cause of this type of criticism lies in the oppression of women in social, political, economic and psychological literature.

Women have been ignored or mostly considered secondary in the literature for a long time. The feminist criticism aims to view them in a different perspective and discover the women’s contribution to the history of literature. It also aims to reinterpret the old texts and establishing the importance of women’s writing to save them from being lost or ignored in the male-dominated world.

Feminist theory also looks for the possibilities and ways to remove the inherent sexism as a practice of writing from the mainstream literature. Apart from this, the goal of feminist criticism is to bring awareness about the sexual politics and analyses the writings of women writers from the feminist perspective. It also includes the language and style of writing to determine the relationship between the genders in terms of the power.

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