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Evolution of Modern Feminism

On the contrarian view, many of the women who are credited as facilitators of feminism in fact adhered to the very social ideology that they sought to mock and contest--in both life and text. To the degree that view can be supported, it follows that declaring such writers as Cavendish and Philips to be protofeminist may be misleading. To see why, it is necessary to look at evidence of cultural patterns that prevailed during their lives and at the specifics of their experience. The weight of evidence is on the side of the more complete (if also more complicated) view that any sense of community these writers might have felt or expressed would have been less likely filtered through a critique of patriarchy than through critique of some-or-other descriptors such as these: Civil War, royalist, Cavalier, republican, Interregnum, Cromwell, Commonwealth, Protectorate, (anti-)popery, Restoration, etc.

There is also the issue of the intrinsic quality of the texts. King seems to verge tantalizingly on granting Philips a radical social sensibility:

In creating a [poetic] persona and accompanying set of attitudes Philips is inhibited by what was permitted to a woman. A wide range of social and sexual attitudes either are not available to her or seem inappropriate in the context of Platonic love between women.

But in fact this judgment argues Philips's acquiescence in social convention, and anyway King sees her poetry lacking in originality. He cites her imitation of minor (male) metaphysical poets Carew and Lovelace. Similarly, Hageman sees echoes of Donne in the Lucasia poems and cites Philips's "exploitation of traditional poetic conventions." More generally, Greer makes the point that writers such as Philips and Cavendish worked in genres they did not invent and cannot be evaluated "without studying what they read or without confronting the problem of influence[,] which is particularly insidious in the case of women."

By no means is...

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Evolution of Modern Feminism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:58, August 23, 2017, from
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