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A Brief Overview of Feminism

Feminism can be roughly described as a movement that seeks to enhance the quality of womens lives by impacting the norms and moves of a society based on male dominance and subsequent female subordination. Although feminist literary writings began to gain popularity in the 20th century, feminist characters have been around for ages. Feminist criticisms self transformations over the past several decades as it engages with both critiques from within and encounters from without- encounters with psychoanalysis, Marxism, Post-Structuralisms, ethnic studies, post-colonial theory, and lesbian and gay studies- have produced a complex proliferation of work not easily subsumed to a single description. (Rivkin 527). According to Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan in their essay Feminist Paradigms, feminist criticism includes several other ideas. Gayle Rubin, author of The Traffic in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex, also adds: The literature on women- both feminist and anti-feminist- is a long rumination on the question of the nature and genesis of womens oppression and social subordination. (533) Some of the earlier feminist characters include Kate, from The Taming of the Shrew and The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales. Unfortunately, during their times these women were viewed as either crazy or troublesome. There was little respect for their opinions and ideas. Trailblazers such as Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and George Eliot (pseudonym of Marian Evans) were paving the way for contemporary feminist writers. Virginia Woolf was one of the most famous feminist writers of her time. In her famous essay, A Room of Ones Own, she makes a very keen observation: The obstacles against her are still very immensely powerful- and yet they are difficult to define. Outwardly, what is simpler that to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man? Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she still ...

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