So I’ve already done my blogging for this week, but I felt the need to post a little rant, and since it has everything to do with Arts One here it is:
I’ve heard multiple comments from my peers complaining about the amount of Feminist texts in this course. People are annoyed that there are books that either talk about women or are written by women with a female perspective, therefore we have had essay topics pertaining to this.
Now, I understand recently the course has been feminist heavy. Firstly, this is nothing to complain about. Most of your life (if you continue with English), you will be surrounded my male authors and male-centered books. Books where women are degraded or completely ignored, but books that nonetheless need to be read because they have some merit in their works. For there to be course that has a good amount of feminist literature is not only exceptional, but should also be the norm. There should be an equal balance of both male and female centred texts.
What’s even more frustrating is the fact that realistically, the course is not feminist heavy whatsoever! I just needed quick look at our reading list to confirm my beliefs, but we have only had two actual feminist readings: The Second Sex and The Vindications of the Rights of Women. Other than that, we have read two books I am pretty sure pass the Bechtel test: Antigone and Northanger Abbey (although I am not sure about the latter).
In comparison, we have read numerous books and authors that either do not speak about women or have no women characters (therefore failing the Bechtel test), or that do speak about women but only to degrade them. These include Gorgias, Leviathan, Rights of Man, Heart of Darkness, Doctor Faustus, Dora, and a few others.
This blog post is not here to start any arguments, offend anyone, or anger anyone. I just feel the need to point out these biases that people have, but may not be aware of. We could spend weeks reading books that have nothing to do with women, and the majority of people will not notice anything out of place. But when we read two books pertaining to women in the span of a few weeks, everyone quickly bores of it and is annoyed.
Just something to be aware of.
I very much agree with this blog, in just about every way.
To say that the course is “feminist heavy” is nonsense. As you point out: Wollstonecraft and De Beauvoir. And maybe (in a rather different way) Butler. That’s three weeks. Meanwhile, the authors remain overwhelmingly male. In the full reading list, there are 26 texts written by men (25 if we don’t include Genesis), and just 4 written by women (the above three plus Austen).
Personally, I think that there should be rather more texts written by women. It would be only fair.
Yes, more texts written by women. And this does not, of course, mean that any text we include written by a woman is a feminist one (obviously). But it IS a feminist concern to have more of a gender balance in a reading list, whether or not this raises gender issues for discussion (sometimes it might, sometimes it might not). So thank you for reminding me that we should think about that more for next year (even though that was not really your intent, I expect, it’s what this post made me think of).
Well said here!
Just thought of something else–it is also a problem, I think, when we tend to only ask gender questions about texts that are about women, feature female characters prominently, or are explicitly feminist. I’m guilty of this. Why don’t we raise questions of gender as often when we’re reading male-focused texts like Plato, Hobbes, etc.? Why is it that we only bring up issues of gender when we’re reading texts by women or about women? Beauvoir might say it’s because women are associated with gender difference because we have been considered the “different” as opposed to the “norm.” So when Plato is talking about people in general, but really only men (because women in ancient Greece couldn’t have the education needed to become philosophers), we just easily slip into ignoring the gender bias there. This is so common in philosophy that I do it too even though I really should know better. Change is difficult.