Next week I’ll be starting the Year 13 section of English Lit and I think a review of AS English Lit is in order, plus I’ve always wanted to write about this topic in a way that’s kind of unique to me, so enjoy!
I love English. Prose, poetry, plays the whole shebang, I love it. That’s not to say that AS English Lit hasn’t made me contemplate the meaning of life and cry a few times (but don’t let that scare you if you’re considering taking it in September, just make sure you keep an open mind and have loads of tissues 🙂 ). This year of English Literature nearly broke me. I mean Carol Ann Duffy, why so ambiguous? Why can’t your poems be about how the sky is blue and life is beautiful? Why the constant references to periods, Carol? Why do I feel like I have to go and burn my bra and stage a feminist revolt Carol? Why do I think I understand your poems and then get my essays back and realise I really don’t Carol? Why Carol Why?
This was my feeling at the beginning of the year when we started studying the poetry collection Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy. The Feminine Gospels are unlike ANYTHING I have ever read before. The poems are clever and witty and ambiguous, but quite beautiful (in a quite bizarre, thought provoking and uncomfortable way). Now if you asked me how I felt about Duffy’s work a few months ago, there would have been pure silence and possibly a tear running down my cheek. My perspective at this present moment is very different.
I have experienced a feminism overload this year. A tiny bit of Germaine Greer, Kate Millett, Jamaica Kincaid and Dr Harriet Lerner, alongside Margaret Atwood, Caryl Churchill and of course Duffy and it has really changed my perspective on feminism.
A few months ago I wrote: I am not against feminism, but I have always questioned why such a practical concept needs a name. We don’t have a name for people who aren’t racists so why do we have names for people who believe in equality for women. I don’t get it. Isn’t it just common sense?
After reading all the things, from Dr Harriet Lerner’s condemnation of a society in which women are not allowed to be angry in ‘The Dance of Anger’ , to the limits placed on women for simply being women in Duffy’s poem ‘Sub’, I had an epiphany; all this stuff people say about female and male equality are not just silly, uneducated cries. It’s not just a word, but it’s what the word stands for. Before I didn’t get the fuss about feminism. Female equality seemed quite a standard thing to me, it didn’t need a name or a group to be advocates for it, it was common sense. After all the prose, plays, poetry, blog posts and videos I can say that I get it a bit more now. I’m beginning to understand the importance of fussing about feminism and saying this is what is happening to me because I am a woman and I think it needs to change.
Our English teacher encouraged discussions during lessons about a variety of issues, from expectations of women as mothers to how women dress and, I had this eye-opening realisation- not everyone thinks like me (which is great, but when you are tired,hungry and in an English lesson that can become a problem 🙂 ) . I would hear views that shocked me, with people questioning the necessity of feminism nowadays and not sharing the view that further progress is needed. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, we all know that, but I would get so annoyed about some view points, that I would go on and on about them in other lessons. (boy, I must have been pretty unbearable sometimes). Then there was the removal and then sudden reintroduction of page 3 and I feel like that is the point where I finally embraced the concept of feminism.
Feminism is not about hating on men. It is not about a group of grumpy middle aged women, trying to indoctrinate my generation on 50 reasons why women are better than men (because that belief also put me off the concept), it is about being fair. There are certain things females face that are not fair, like being called like a cab, NOT FAIR. Men probably have stuff that they face too, but I am not a man so I wouldn’t know (but if you’re a man and want to enlighten me on any of your struggles, then go for it).
The whole point though is this: We have made so many advancements in terms of equality, therefore there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to advance even further. Closing the pay gap, stopping rape culture and getting young males to respect women are really not the most horrid things to be fighting for.
Feminist/ Feminism are not icky words reserved for girls who are overly passionate about everything, it impacts us all so we should embrace it.
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree? Has English Lit changed your views on feminism? What spurred your feminist awakening (that sounds so corny) or are you still pretty unsure about the whole concept?
Let me know what you think.
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