Apparently I don’t read enough. At least, that’s what I’ve been told twice this week. [cue laugh track] Specifically: I haven’t read enough feminist literature.
O….kay? [ incredulous laughter ]
I’m about equality, and not whether you can barf up the right catchphrases on command.
The last time I reread Woolf’s Room of One’s Own, the aspect which stood out to me was the firm but fair tone she suggested for feminism. Demand your fair share of the pie, but don’t try to become unjustly privileged yourself. In addition, look for other injustices to fight. A white feminist should do his or her best to speak out against racism, or their feminist stance is profoundly invalidated. The same goes for straight feminists and homophobia.
That said, here are links to a few unacademic (non-canonical) things I’ve been thinking about in the last few months that relate to feminism:
Margaret Wertheim’s TEDtalk “The Beautiful Art of Coral”
Her art installation uses crocheted coral reefs to explore marine biology, environmental activism, women’s handicrafts, hyperbolic space, and embodied knowledge.
(…which also speaks strongly about racism in science fiction and fantasy)
I consider the Bechdel test the fastest and most compelling empirical intro for feminism for people who doubt that we still need it. What does it say about our society that so few movies have more than one named female character, much less named female characters who talk to one another about something other than men?
Literature by women (or at least feminist-literate individuals…regardless of their gender)
Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club” was a revelation to me in high school: the entire book is a fantastic exploration of identity, but what I’d never seen before was literature which gave such attention to the mother/daughter relationship.
Other important authors in this category are: Virginia Woolf, Louise Erdrich, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Jane Austen. (Jane Austen? Yes, Jane Austen. The popular superficial take on her work is understandable, but you don’t have to dig out a huge microscope to notice that this woman was intensely dissatisfied with the status quo and expressed that through her writing.)
Including graphic novels in this category allows me to add Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Faith Erin Hicks, and Fumi Yoshinaga. (See “Irony as Postmodern Rhetoric” for my defense of Yoshinaga’s Ooku series as feminist-literate.) Actually, adding graphic novels to this discourse is a bad idea. There are too many fantastic indie comics with nuanced female characters, and the indie quality means you’re much more likely to see female authors as well. The four I named are simply four who have intriguing things to say about women, sexuality, and power.
There is something magical and wonderful about a person who goes chapter by chapter with a fantasy series that you loved as a child…and points out that it is solid and empowering even from adult feminist lenses. Yes, Mark Reads reviewed and analyzed Tamora Pierce’s twelve books in the Tortall universe. He also uses feminism and common sense to explain just what makes the Twilight series un-empowering and potentially harmful. In the Fire and Ice series–aka Game of Thrones–he points out the nuances of a white girl who means well with her white messianic performances that never work. He also makes the reasonable observation/objection that Martin includes a reference to past, ongoing, or predicted sexual violence with disturbing frequency.
I actively research female artists to see if we: 1) exist, and 2) have anything unique to bring in our art.
“Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, ‘What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?'”
Horrible comics illustrating stereotypes about feminism and suffragettes