Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Women and Literary Production

I'm taking a course in feminist theory this semester, so I thought I'd share some of my reading journal from this week (we're reading from Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader, edited by Mary Eagleton):
            When men control the means of written production, how is a woman to speak publicly? Chapter 2 is concerned primarily with women and literary production: how it has been limited by men, by feminism, by society.  Eagleton indicates these factors kept women from speaking out, and if they did, often their writing was viewed as inferior to men’s.  The two excerpts from Woolf—Shakespeare’s sister and killing the Angel of the House—deal with the difficulties of being a woman who longs to write and wishes to write about her experiences in a woman’s body, but is prevented from doing so: either prevented from writing at all or from writing about ideas that are considered “improper.”  Olsen looks at the silencing of women, which begins at birth and prevents their entry into the class of writers.
            Eagleton’s introduction to Chapter 2 got me thinking about modern means of production, especially the Internet.  Women are among the most active writers on the Internet, with the advent of “mommy blogs” and other communities created by women for women.  Each year, a conference is held for female bloggers (called BlogHer), where they meet and mingle and discuss issues about being a woman and being a public writer.  Many of these bloggers are given opportunities to write books based on their blogs, meaning more women are producing books. While blogging seems empowering for women, since the means of production is removed from male hands, I have to wonder if this trend is simply another way to keep women writing only about “female” concerns: being a mother, cooking, housekeeping, etc.  And obviously among female bloggers there are a good number who are concerned with feminist undertakings (blogs like Jezebel and Feministing, for example) and publish books that question the status quo (I’m thinking, for example, about a book by Jessica Valenti called The Purity Myth, which examines the American obsession with women’s virginity and how it ultimately damages women).  Anyway, are we moving toward a time when women’s writing isn’t viewed as inferior to men’s or women are pushed toward writing about stereotypically female concerns, or does the growth in women writing on the Internet contribute to these trends?  Perhaps, as Woolf says, “So accurately does history repeat itself” (77).


Kerry said...

I think the beauty of blogging is in its simplicity -- it allows an individual to keep a public diary about their thoughts and interests, allowing others to perceive a different way of living. If those interests include cooking and parenting, then they should be included, as they define the lives of those writers. A blog is a glimpse into another person's life, after all. Commenting on those aspects of life are as important as contemplating "philosophical ideas". Great ideas are defined by those who first live.

I'm glad you're enjoying returning to academia once again.

Anonymous said...

I have read many of your notes on Facebook, but only discovered your actual blog today. How can it be possible that you my dear niece have been blogging and I haven't been a follower of said blog? I enjoy your writing style and thought process in addition to capturing a glimpse of your everyday musings and happenings.

I have bookmarked your blog and look forward to many more entries.