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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Feminist Theory

“Why ‘Feminist Theory’?”

In her article “Taking the Gold Out of Egypt: The Art of Reading as a Woman”, Susan Schibanoff emphasizes that feminist theory means “reading as a woman”. How important is this “reading as a woman”?


In this era, it is still very important to use this theory because it is undeniable that everywhere around the world, the patriarchal culture still stays put strongly, in many aspects of human being’s lives. Women are still considered the second sex, no matter big progress in women’s lives has been reached after the women’s movement started to spread to all around the world.

‘Reading as a woman’ is really important so that people will really listen to what women want, based on their way of thinking, and not based on patriarchal society’s way of thinking. Saying that all women want the same thing (let’s say for education and profession) is a naïve thing.

Yesterday a female student of mine told me about her mother’s suggestion to take English Department major after she graduates from senior high school. Her mother reasoned, “To be an English teacher is feminine, very “woman”. Besides, it is easy, not hard. You don’t need to study hard, for example by studying in Engineering faculty. That is your future husband’s responsibility.”
If I use Schibanoff’s “reading as a woman” to view this simple ‘text’, I will come to the conclusion that what my student’s mother said did not purely come from women’s point of view that was free from patriarchal culture’s influence. She just followed the stereotyping that as weaker sex, women did not need to study hard, or to work hard, because as women we were born to be feminine creatures.

It doesn’t mean that I want to blame that idea. No. The choice to work hard or not is on my student’s hands. But of course I do hope that “reading as a woman” consensus is spread more widely so that women know that it is okay for them to make their own choice, to make up their mind, free from patriarchal culture’s stereotyping. They can choose “feminine” profession, such as teacher (however, I never think that my being teacher makes me more feminine LOL), nurse, secretary, flight attendant etc. Women can also choose to study in “macho” or “masculine” majors, such as mechanical engineering, and have “masculine” profession, such as boxer, scientist, astronaut, etc.

I am wondering if one day this theory “reading as a woman” is no longer needed because people stop viewing women as the second sex. And people choose education and profession not based on sex, but based on interest and capabilities.

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3 comments:

triesti said...

'You don’t need to study hard, for example by studying in Engineering faculty.'

if you are talented in math and not in languages, I imagine you have more problem studying languages.

A Feminist Blog said...

That's right Triesti. I forgot to cite it in my article. I have met many students who got difficulties in studying languages while they excel in math or accounting.

triesti said...

'She just followed the stereotyping that as weaker sex, women did not need to study hard, or to work hard, because as women we were born to be feminine creatures.'

I dont know.. I hate it when ppl said 'woman', when I failed.