"Women . . . don't have penis envy; men have pussy envy."

--Valerie Solanas, "SCUM Manifesto"

"Lke Kafka's victim in "The Penal Colony," women have had to experience cultural scripts in their lives by suffering them in their bodies. This is why Maxine Hong Kingston writes so movingly about her resemblance to the mythic woman warrior who went into battle scarred by the thin blades which her parents literally used to write fine lines of script on her body. For the artist, this sense that she is herself the text means that there is little difference between her life and her art. The attraction of women writers to personal forms of expression like letters, autobiographies, confessional poetry, diaries, and journals points up the effect of a life experienced as an art or an art experienced as a kind of life, as does women's traditional interest in cosmetics, fashion, and interior decorating.

--Susan Gubar, "'The Blank Page' and Female Creativity."

With the end of WWII, Rosie the Riveter was fired from her factory job and told to return home to tend the house and children, and the seed was sown for the feminist movement as we know it today. During the 1960s feminism emerged out of the Civil Rights movement, as women began to question why male civil rights leaders presided at meetings and set policy while women always typed the notes. By the 1970s, women were noting that the term "free love" does not mean "free access to women's bodies." With the 1980s came the advent of "Power Feminism" as women started to break down the separatist ideology of 70s feminism and began seeking power in areas and with methods traditionally thought of as "masculine." The 1990's saw the rise of today's "Riot Grrl Feminism," which gives the power feminism of the 80s a decidedly anti-establishment twist.

Throughout all of these ideological permutations, women have been producing literature which reflects, contributes to, comments on, and complicates the struggle against patriarchy/male domination which generally defines the rubric of "feminism." From the David-Lynch-meets-Betty-Crocker weirdness of Flannery O'Connor to the stirringly poetic realism of Toni Morrison, feminist literature documents the enormous plurality of women's lived experiences and subjectivities.




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