"It's important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It's the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons too. It's the way we talk...

"It's important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It's the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons too. It's the way we talk about and treat one another. It's who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It's a state of mind. It's the way we live now." - Anna Quindlen 

How does this statement relate directly to feminism as a MOVEMENT (as opposed to a theory) in the study of Feminist Literary Criticism?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Feminist Criticism in Literature is the preocupation of ensuring the equal (or proportionally similar) treatment of the female gender in written works that inevitably need to assign a role to specific characters. It is the "h/she" battle; do we automatically assume that every example illustrated in a book will involve a "he", or do we randomly assign "he's" and "she's"?

This theory has three movements that are equally important to analyze because they occur at key historical points, helping us to understand how each movement is so different from the other, while keeping the exact same focus. 

The first movement is the "Mary Wollstonecraft" period, where the said author (the mother of Frankenstein's author Mary Shelley), writes A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). For the first time, the inequalities in gender are publically put on the table, leading to the Women's Suffrage Movement in 1920.

The second movement is the "NOW" movement of the 1960's-70's where memes such as "the feeble sex" or "le sexe feble" and Simone de Beauvoir's Le deuxième sexe (1972) hit the mainstream, influencing the civil rights movemement.

The third movement is the "Clinton" era movement. During the early 1990's we witness a collective effort, particularly from the liberal movement, to make drastic changes in social roles; it was collective, and not neccesarily a political move, affecting even the talk show culture with females running commonly male shows, leading night show bands, and taking new roles in politics. Alice Walker writes during this decade, that it is time to 

..reconcile it [feminism] with the concerns of the black community...[and] the survival and wholeness of her people, men and women both, and for the promotion of dialog and community as well as for the valorization of women and of all the varieties of work women perform

Basically, the three movements show us that the view of feminism is not purely theoretical because it is no longer a hypothetical construct: three times over women have taken upon themselves the task to go to the streets, to infiltrate the worlds of literature, sports, showbusiness, and politics, thus changing the course of history and transforming society. Feminism can no longer be put in a corner, nor be diminished as a minor incident in the historical big picture. This is why, as your question notes, 

It's important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders.

The idea of men and women being capable of similar psychological and social tasks is no longer seen as an enigmatic myth, or a taboo. While physical limitations vary naturally from one gender to the other, it is clear that the capacity of thought and emotion is different but equally existing in both genders, with just as much passion. The idea behind gender equality is not the ridiculous inference that women and men are supposed to do the exact same things, but that they should be REGARDED and RESPECTED without bias at all times. Like your statement says, feminism... 

It's the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons too. It's the way we talk about and treat one another.

Similarly, feminism is no longer a "women against men" movement. It is a common social understanding that men and females can share roles and co-exist harmoniously facing the same challenges. Men can be as good stay at home parents as women; women can be as effective breadwinners as males. Both can swap roles at any given time. It is not "woman this, man that" but what a couple can achieve together as a pair of socially-responsible individuals. This is why feminism is no longer a theory; it has officially graduated as a way of life. 

It's who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It's a state of mind. It's the way we live now.

Sources:
tyler-k's profile pic

tyler-k | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

The quote is saying that Feminism is no longer just an idea. It has been put to action, and is gaining momentum. More people are looking at it and seeing a movement rather than just a few people sitting around talking about doing something about gender inequality. I believe the quote is also saying that Feminism is moving towards being such a common practice that it is just natural done, rather than fought for by women and men who want equality. 

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