27 jun. 2011

Feminist Criticism

Thirty years ago, Myra Jehlen wrote:
Feminist thinking is really rethinking, an examination of the way certain assumptions about women and the female character enter into the fundamental assumptions that organize all our thinking. For instance, assumptions such as the one that makes intuition and reason opposite terms parallel to female and male may have axiomatic force in our culture, but they are precisely what feminists need to question-or be reduced to checking the arithmetic, when the issue lies in the calculus.
("Archimedes and the Paradox of Feminist Criticism" Signs 1981).
Yet I still read feminist criticism today that identifies woman with nature and intuition, that accepts the old dichotomies and essentialisms at face value. I read an article recently that wanted to make philosophy and poetry parallel to male and female.

3 comentarios:

Joseph Hutchison dijo...

Since you quote Jehlen, it would be only fair to support your statement about "feminist criticism today" with quotation as well. Just sayin'....

Jonathan dijo...

A fair point. I'll do that in future posts.

Professor Zero dijo...

Yes, there's some weak feminist criticism around -- I don't have expert views on why but I do have a couple of observations / theories:

1 - cultural feminism, which is essentialist and in my view became popular because it depoliticized radical feminism and was more acceptable in the mainstream

2 - institutionalization and mainstreaming in academia -- feminist work had to get more conservative to do that.

I remember sometime in the late 80s thinking that part of Women's Studies had sort of turned into a Ladies' Auxiliary. This was perhaps too mean on my part it was a reaction to a few things that really happened.

Also, there's a whole lot of co opting that goes on in other formerly fringe disciplines and political movements -- antiracism turns into corporate multiculturalism, gay people become OK if they have the correct suburban aspirations, etc.

But also and perhaps more: the way "theory" classes are fit into programs in so many places now and the results this has. You do an intro to theory and then you are supposed to "know it" and "apply it." This doesn't help any new field grow, really, and it's where you get a lot of weak postcolonial readings, weak feminist readings, etc.