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FEMINIST ANALYSIS ON LITERATURE

A. BACKGROUND

Feminist shows the awareness of women right and attitudes toward women in male-dominated (patriarchal) cultural, social, political, and economic structure. Based on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, Feminist is 1. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2.Organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminist).

Based on Wikipedia, Feminism is the belief that women should have equal political, social, sexual, intellectual and economic rights to men. It involves various movements, theories, and philosophies, all concerned with issues of gender difference, that advocate equality for women and that campaign for women’s rights and interests (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist).

Other experts of feminism stated that, "Feminist theorists generally share four concerns." (Jaggar and Rothenberg in Mandell, 1995:4):

a. Feminist theorist seeks to understand the gendered nature of virtually all-social and institutional relations.

b. Gender relations are constructed as problematic related to other inequalities and contradiction in social life.

c. Gender relations are not viewed as either natural or immutable but as historical and socio-cultural productions, subjects to reconstitution. In particular, feminist analyses deconstruct errors and myths about women abilities, add to knowledge about women’s empirical realities and construct theory by and about women.

d. Feminist theory tends to be explicitly political in their advocacy of social change.

 

There are many reasons that provide basis of it (Djajanegara: 1 in Saraswati, 2003), they are:

At first is Political aspect that shows when American citizen proclaiming their freedom in 1776. In the Declaration of Independent is written that “all men created equal”, without take women in there. As the result in convention in Seneca Falls at 1848, the feminist figures have declared the other version of Declaration of Independent of America as “all women and men are created equal”.

The second is Religion aspect. The church, both of Christian and Catholic take the woman position lower than man. As Christian belief that woman’s duty is just the server in the home and arranges their household. While, Catholic proposed that women are the dirty creature and representatives of devil.

The third is Social aspect and Marxism. It is started on Frederick Engels statement “within the family he is the bourgeois and the wife represents the proletariat”. The American women is supposed to be the oppressed in capitalist society, they didn’t have a value because her duty is only to manage their household. That was not equal to the men job which gives the outcome as money.

The main goal of Feminism is to increase the position and the right of women to the same as the position of men. The struggle of feminism to get their goal has several ways, and the one of them is to get the same right and position toward men (equal right) and women emancipation movement.

B. THE EXPLANATION

Feminist analysis on literature or Feminist Criticism is a kind of literary criticism informed by feminist theory, or by the politics of feminism more broadly. It shows the struggle of women to get the same position as a men or being free of man-dominated.

As we know Feminism analysis is an approach to analyze the literary work based on feminism theory. The goals of feminism criticism are 1) To develop and uncover a female tradition of writing, (2) to interpret symbolism of women’s writing so that it will not be lost or ignored by the male point of view, (3) to rediscover old texts, (4) to analyze women writers and their writings from a female perspective, (5) to resist sexism in literature, and (6) to increase awareness of the sexual politics of language and style (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist).

Feminist criticism became a dominant force in Western literary studies in the late 1970s, when feminist theory more broadly conceived was applied to linguistic and literary matters. Since the early 1980s, feminist literary criticism has developed and diversified in a number of ways and is now characterized by a global perspective.

A variety of movements in feminism means that calling one’s self a feminist can mean many things. In general, members of the following categories of feminism believe in the listed policies; however as with any diverse movement, there are disagreements within each group and overlap between others. This list is meant to illustrate the diversity of feminist thought and belief. It does not mean that feminism is fragmented (although it often seems that way).

Defining various kinds of feminism is a tricky proposition. The diversity of comment with most of the kinds presented here should alert you to the dangers and difficulties in trying to "define" feminism. Since feminism itself resists all kinds of definitions by its very existence and aims, it is more accurate to say that there are all kinds of "flavors" and these flavors are mixed up every which way.

There are many branch of feminism that can be the way to analyze the literary work. Tong (1998:2-3) states that there are eight branches of feminism, namely:

1. Liberal feminism is focused on the justice of gender that demands us to make justice role merely equality between male and female.

2. Radical feminists thought that liberal feminism was inadequate to erase the oppression of women. They focused on sex, gender and reproduction.

3. Marxist-socialist feminism is focused at getting equal right based on class and reproduction of capitalism in the society namely between men and women.

4. Psychoanalysis feminism is focused on the analysis of psychological aspect that relates to women psychology. Generally psychoanalysis feminist uses the concept of Freud id, ego and superego.

5. Existentialist feminists concern on how "Being and Nothingness Sartre, the Second Sex" is happened. It discusses more how female should exist among the society because women are regarded as the second sex.

6. Postmodernism feminist tends to observe the understanding of Beauvoir namely otherness as men and the other as women.

7. Multicultural and global feminists explain that otherness is fragmented. The cause of fragment is more culturally and nationally than sexually or literally. The cause of fragment is the branch of feminism that tends to describe the relation of ego.

8. Ecofeminism. Each branch has the same goal, namely to erase the discrimination between men and women in several aspects of life. Each of them has different way to gain the equality.

 

And Based on Baskin Robbins premixed flavors; there are many kinds of feminism:

1. Amazon Feminism

Amazon feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as it is expressed in art and literature, in the physiques and feats of female athletes, and in sexual values and practices. It is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes and discrimination against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look or behave as if they are passive, weak and physically helpless.

Amazon feminism rejects the idea that certain characteristics or interests are inherently masculine (or feminine), and upholds and explores a vision of heroic womanhood. Thus Amazon feminism advocates e.g., female strength athletes, martial artists, soldiers, etc.

2. Anarcho-Feminism

Anarcho-feminism was never a huge movement, especially in the United States, and you won’t find a whole lot written about it.

3. Cultural Feminism

As radical feminism died out as a movement, cultural feminism got rolling. In fact, many of the same people moved from the former to the latter. They carried the name "radical feminism" with them, and some cultural feminists use that name still. The difference between the two is quite striking: whereas radical feminism was a movement to transform society, cultural feminism retreated to vanguardism, working instead to build a women’s culture. Some of this effort has had some social benefit: rape crisis centers, for example; and of course many cultural feminists have been active in social issues (but as individuals, not as part of a movement).

4. Erotic Feminism

This seemed to start (as a movement) in Germany under the rule of Otto von Bismarck. He ruled the land with the motto "blood and iron". In society the man was the ultra manly man and power was patriarchal power. Some women rebelled against this, by becoming woman. Eroticism became a philosophical and metaphysical value and the life-creating value.

5. Eco-Feminism:

This branch of feminism is much more spiritual than political or theoretical in nature. It may or may not be wrapped up with Goddess worship and vegetarianism. Its basic tenet is that a patriarchical society will exploit its resources without regard to long term consequences as a direct result of the attitudes fostered in a patriarchical/hierarchical society. Parallels are often drawn between society’s treatment of the environment, animals, or resources and its treatment of women. In resisting patriarchical culture, eco-feminists feel that they are also resisting plundering and destroying the Earth.

6. Individualist, or Libertarian Feminism

Individualist feminism is based upon individualist or libertarian (minimum government or anarchocapitalist) philosophies, i.e. philosophies whose primary focus is individual autonomy, rights, liberty, independence and diversity.

7. Lesbianism:

There are a couple of points to make here. First is that Lesbianism is not necessarily a de facto part of feminism. While it is true that merely being a lesbian is a direct contravention of "traditional" concepts of womanhood, Lesbians themeselves hold a wide variety of opionions on the subject of feminism just as their straight sisters do.

On the other hand, Lesbianism has sometimes been made into a political point by straight women "becoming" lesbian in order to fully reject men. However, it is never accurate to characterise all feminists as Lesbians nor all Lesbians as feminists.Lesbianism and feminism, for all their common points and joint interests, are two very different groups.

8. Liberal Feminism:

This is the variety of feminism that works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into that structure. Its roots stretch back to the social contract theory of government instituted by the American Revolution. Abigail Adams and Mary Wollstonecraft were there from the start, proposing equality for women. As is often the case with liberals, they slog along inside the system, getting little done amongst the compromises until some radical movement shows up and pulls those compromises left of center. This is how it operated in the days of the suffragist movement and again with the emergence of the radical feminists.

9. Marxist and Socialist Feminism

Marxism recognizes that women are oppressed, and attributes the oppression to the capitalist/private property system. Thus they insist that the only way to end the oppression of women is to overthrow the capitalist system. Socialist feminism is the result of Marxism meeting radical feminism. Jaggar and Rothenberg point to significant differences between socialist feminism and Marxism, but for our purposes I’ll present the two together. Echols offers a description of socialist feminism as a marriage between Marxism and radical feminism, with Marxism the dominant partner. Marxists and socialists often call themselves "radical," but they use the term to refer to a completely different "root" of society: the economic system.

10. Material Feminism

A movement in the late 19th century to liberate women by improving their material condition. This meant taking the burden of housework and cooking off their shoulders.

11. Moderate Feminism:

This branch of feminism tends to be populated by younger women or other women who have not directly experienced discrimination. They are closely affiliated with liberal feminism, but tend to question the need for further effort, and do not think that Radical feminism is any longer viable and in fact rather embarrassing (this is the group most likely to espouse feminist ideas and thoughts while denying being "feminist").

12. ‘pop-feminism’

This term has appeared several times on social feminism. It appears to be a catch-all for the bogey "man" sort of feminism that everyone loves to hate: you know the kind of feminism that grinds men under its heel and admits to no wrong for women. It is doubtful that such a caricature actually exists, yet many people persist in lumping all feminists into this sort of a category.

13. Radical Feminism:

Radical feminism provides an important foundation for the rest of "feminist flavors". Radical feminism refers to the feminist movement that sprung out of the civil rights and peace movements in 1967-1968. The reason this group gets the "radical" label is that they view the oppression of women as the most fundamental form of oppression, one that cuts across boundaries of race, culture, and economic class. This is a movement intent on social change, change of rather revolutionary proportions, in fact.

14. Separatists Feminism:

Separatists are sometimes literal, sometimes figurative. The core idea is that "separating" (by various means) from men enables women to see themselves in a different context. Many feminists, whether or not separatist, think this is a necessary "first step", by which they mean a temporary separation for personal growth, not a permanent one.

 

There are Critical Strategies to analyze the literary work used Feminism approach. The applications of these assumptions generally fall into one of three broad feminist approaches:

a. The Socio-Political Approach of what is sometimes termed the British school of feminist criticism focuses on a neo-Marxist exposé of the patriarchy as reflected in the delimited lives and destinies of female characters in literature. This type of critical discourse often takes an explicitly and aggressively ideological stance, stressing the important contribution of literature and literary criticism to a radical, even revolutionary reformation of culture.

b. The Socio-Psychological Approach of the so-called American school of feminist criticism focuses on exploring the awakening feminine consciousness reflected in literature by and about women. Through close textual analysis, this critical approach has often stressed a psychological maturation not only through a recognition of gender difference but also through a growing sense of "sisterhood" with other women. One strategy toward this end has been the recovery or rediscovery of previously overlooked or suppressed female writers and texts.

c. The Fe(Male) Approach of the French school of feminist criticism has stressed the subtle but essential participation of language in the patriarchal forces of society. This critical approach often draws upon the linguistic concepts of structuralism and post-structuralism. Some practitioners of this critical method also focus on defining the distinguishing qualities of L’ecriture féminine (women’s writing).

 

C. CONCLUSION

So we can define that Feminism Analysis is to analyze literary work with feminism approach. We can use idea, thought, ideology, and principles of feminism in analyze literary work, to know whether if it has a connection to the feminism ideology.

The applied of feminism in the literary work is concerned in the character who is a woman. Usually the items what we should define is: 1. the position of the character (especially the woman) in the society, 2. The goal of her life or her way of life, 3. The behavior and character of her, 4. Her way of taught and utterances.

The other characters are analyzed in their relation to the woman character, whether they are her husband or her couple, her parents, family, and society in her life.

There are the key terms of Feminism that can be proposed:

  • The Other (woman has been categorized as “Other”)
  • Social construction of gender (and race)
  • Gynocriticism (the study of literature by women and about women)
  • Misogyny (hatred of women)/Misanthrope (hates people)/Misandry (hatred of men)
  • Political criticism
  • Essentialism clip_image001 a deterministic view that "biology is destiny" (opposite of social construction)  belief that there is an inherent set of traits that determine both sex and gender, that male and female are immutable, absolute.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kolodny, Annette. 1980. Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism. Boston: Bedford Book.

Mandell, Nancy. 1995. Feminist Issues: Race, Class, and Sexuality. Canada: Prentice Hall.

Murfin, Ross & Upriya M. Ray. 1998. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford Book.

Saraswati, Ekarini. 2003. Sosiologi Sastra. Malang: Bayu Media &UMM Press.

Tong, Rosemarie Putman. 1998. Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. USA: Westview Press.

 

VIRTUAL REFERENCES

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Feminism. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism.

Wikipedia. 2009. Feminist. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist.

 

ARRANGED BY:

ARDIKA RIZKY SAPUTRI

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