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Texts in Conversations - Essay Example

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Texts in Conversation Feminism is understood as a series of movements, both political and cultural, that have aimed at defining and establishing equal rights and status for women. While this movement has experienced substantial variety and change throughout its existence, it has broadly been divided into three prominent movements…
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Texts in Conversations
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Download file to see previous pages Finally, third wave feminism continues through the contemporary cultural landscape. In addition to large-scale political change, each of these movements is reflected in the artistic and cultural production of feminist writers of the time. This essay critically reviews prominent texts from each of the feminist waves – Virginia Woolf’s ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’, Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘the Second Sex,’ and Rebecca Walker’s ‘Becoming the Third Wave.’ Virginia Woolf was one of the most prominent writers within the first wave spectrum of feminist thought. Today her novels and essays remain widely read for both their literary qualities, as well as their prescient perspective on women’s equality. In terms of her stance on women’s equality, her text ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ represents one of her most powerful statements. Woolf begins this text with the provocative statement, “It would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare” (Woolf). In addition to holding significant rhetorical quality, this statement is an indictment of both 17th century Europe, as well as cultural climate of Woolf’s time that severely restricts the rights of women. While Woolf’s text expresses many of the concerns that will later be echoed in second and third wave feminist literature, it’s clear that Woolf’s formulations distinctly constitute proto-feminist concerns. As Woolf’s text unravels it’s clear that it focuses upon the position of a woman in 17th century England. She seminally writes that any, “woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked” (Woolf). Even as Woolf is referring to the condition of the woman in 17th century Europe, it’s clear that her statements are reflective of her own social challenges. The cultural climate of Woolf’s time remain highly centered on the male as the breadwinner and this carried over into the process of education and social responsibility. In these regards, Woolf is articulating essential aspects of the woman’s experience in her world; namely the nature of patriarchal society as restricting the woman’s full potential and the abhorrent recognition of this reality. While such concerns are more emblematic of first wave feminism, they are reflective of the central of all feminist waves, and are reflected in both de Beauvoir and Walker’s texts. Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘the Second Sex’ is recognized as a seminal text in terms of the second wave feminist movement. While Woolf’s work examined broader feminist and human rights concern, de Beauvoir’s text is more rooted in the cultural climate of her day. It’s also clear that while Woolf’s text is more concerned with the oppressive social mechanisms that restrict women’s rights, de Beauvoir is further pointed as she directly identifies men as the oppressive party. Consider de Beauvoir who writes, “The whole of feminine history has been man-made. Just as in America there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it is our problem; so the woman problem has always been a man problem” (De Beauvoir, pg. 102). In these regards, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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