Feminist critics have produced a variety of models to account for the production, reproduction, and maintenance of gender systems. They discuss the female writer’s problems in defining herself in the conventional structures of male-dominated society, structures that restrict the possibilities of women and impose standards of behavior upon women personally, professionally, and creatively. Again, to generalize, once women experience themselves as subjects, they can attempt to undermine the social, cultural, and masculine subject positions offered them.
Feminist critics may, for example, reexamine the writing of male authors (an approach associated with American feminists) and, in particular, reexamine the great works of male authors from a woman’s perspective in an attempt to discover how these great works reflect and shape the ideologies that subjugate women. Through this reexamination, feminist critics carefully analyze the depictions of female characters to expose the ideology implicit in such characterizations. They may also seek to expose the patriarchal ideology that permeates great works and to show how it also permeates the literary tradition. This particularly American approach is seen in the works of Kate Millett, Judith Fetterley, and Carolyn Gold Heilbrun.