For the last two weeks or so I have been struggling through ‘How To Be A Woman’ by Caitlin Moran. According to many of my female friends, this is one of the best feminist books to hit the shelves. However I have to admit that I am finding it hard to see where they are coming from. I still have 15% left of the book to read, according to my Kindle, and it’s like there’s some repelling force field keeping me away from it as my head just cannot take any more boredom… seriously! So in order to prevent myself from finishing the book today I thought I’d discuss feminism and books and whether us women can actually better ourselves through the power of reading.
The Definition of Feminism
My problem with feminist literature is that much of it (although by no means all) seems to be purely written to attack men rather than be about equality. In How To Be A Woman, Moran says:
“Here is a quick way of working out if you are a feminist. Put your hand in your pants
a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said ‘yes’ to both then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”
Okay so technically I’m a feminist. However, my problem lies with women like Germaine Greer, one of the most famous feminist voices in the 20th century who takes the above way much further to a point where I’m left wondering if she needs psychiatric help. Instead of fighting for equality, which is what I’ve been led to believe feminism is all about, she instead finds it easier to attack men, upper class women, romance and even dogs… it makes me wonder what she does actually like, and it makes me worry that so many people see her as a god like hero figure especially when her views are so out of touch with most women I know. I can’t be the only one that thinks she’s on the wrong side of sane…
Feminism in Literature
Anyway to avoid going into a whole rant on why me and Germaine would never get on in real life I should probably get around to feminism in literature. In the past, writing was seen as a man’s job. Most of the world’s greatest works of literature have been written by men and it was only when women started writing books but getting them published with a man’s name on them that this changed, and even then novels written by women were limited.
Feminist literature is largely defined as any literary work that focuses on the struggle of a woman for equality. Originally, or so I am told, this was thought to be the best way for women to change their role in society. Whilst the literature that was published did have a story to it, it also had a few similar characteristics including:
– Describing the difference between gender and sex – the belief was that gender roles could be altered over time and that the male gender would not always be the most dominant
– Looking at the needs of women with a subjective rather than objective approach.
– Most novels have a female protagonist who, however subtly, does not conform to the traditional role of women as determined by society. Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice for example.
Not all feminist literature has been written by women. Some was also written by men who understood the desires and needs of women in a male dominated society and of course, as the number of fiction pieces increased so did the number of non-fiction books. And I have to say that as much as I really dislike Greer, I do like a lot of the feminist literature that I have read… it may be a novel versus non fiction thing, and it may be that I prefer the subtleties where fiction is concerned.
Feminist Literature Reading List
I’m not a radical feminist in any way, shape or form but I do appreciate a good book that has a strong female protagonist. So below are a list of some of the books that I have read and enjoyed all of which are hyperlinked to Amazon so you can check them out in more detail.
– The Bell Jar– Sylvia Plath
– The Handmaid’s Tale– Margaret Atwood
– Pride and Prejudice– Jane Austen
– The Hunger Games– Suzanne Collins
– A Thousand Splendid Suns– Khaled Hosseini
– The Help– Kathryn Stockett
I don’t expect everyone to agree with my views in this article so why not leave a comment and let me know what you think. I’m all for equality and I do want full control over my vagina; in that stance I am a feminist… if feminism 2.0 is all about man hating, though, I might as well become a female eunuch.
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