Who Speaks for Women? “Masculinity and Women’s Writing’ Mariam Bello – Group B

ImageThe article I found in realtion to ‘who speaks for women?’ Is by Gendering English Studies: Masculinity and Women’ Writing Author : Diana Wallace.

Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 2011, Vol.10(1), p.31-37

This article addresses the silences and anxieties provoked by the gendering of English Studies as a subject taught by men to women. The writer reflects on her own experience as a female student and lecturer within a subject that has been “professionalized” by males.

‘In this particular article Wallace addresses the modern day rights between male and female writers. She states that the world of literature has been proffesionalized by men and how it is clearly visible to see through male students at university because they are less likely to sign up to women’s writing modules or find thmeselves as the minority in a class where geder is continually under disccusion. In relation to Virginia Woolf’s ‘A room of ones own’, Wallace describes her book as a heated text frequently thrown up for discussion with both her male and female students. This partly is due to her style and class status, as a female writer issues of gender was almost difficult for a male student to come to terms with and sfound it hard to see that women were oppressed.

Ultimately we see that the masculine world has and may still continue to have a hold on the way women write. Modern day society reveals this and shows the gulf between both genders, when really literature should be a means of expression for whatever gender, class, status, race and background we come from.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. The same can be said for women speaking for other women to be fair – especially in the early stages of feminist writing where it tended to be white, middle class women like Woolfe speaking on behalf of all women including people of different races and classes.

    It’s not just a case of men speaking for women, but women speaking for other women.

    Reply

  2. I personally think there are always going to be gender stereotypes with everything that we do and say but in particular with our literature. Although as Mariam states, that literature should be a ‘means of expression’, no matter what gender or background is, there is always going to be someone who criticizes our work instead of appreciating the creativity and hard-work of a good piece of literature. I feel we have a long way to go before women can reach true equality with men, in the sense that the male gender still seems to dominate the way in which women write and the topics they choose to write about.

    In my opinion, I enjoy reading works of early female writers as they give a realistic portrayal of a women’s position in the world. These writers helps us to appreciate how far women have come, even if men still seem to dominate higher working positions within literature.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Khadija Azfar on November 4, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    It’s sad to think that due to these prejudices against female writers, some really gifted literary women might not even have bothered to write simply because they knew that their work would be criticised and discriminated against because it was written by women rather than getting the praise and recognition it deserved. As the writer herself confesses, the masculinization of English almost put her off the subject altogether. It’s not hard to understand why; with all the criticism, the joy and creativity of writing and expressing oneself would have been utterly destroyed.

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  4. Posted by Fiona Koster k1124466 on November 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Fortunately enough our literary studies at Kingston University (which I cannot claim for politics) are experiencing a much more balanced teaching when it comes to male and female professors. (Maybe the tables have even turned?)

    My own experiences in seminars however resonate with what Diana Wallace is saying: Some guys are in denial, others feel threatened and than there is the odd (amazing) one who is ‘just okay’ with feminism and the battle to equalhood.

    As I have been writing about or around feminism (in several essays) in politics I have often been faced with differing reactions in seminars by my pals and my teachers. The most disturbing one, is the occasional roar when I mention feminism or feminist organisations (this is how unpopular feminism has become, whereas there is still a lot to be done – we even seem to walk backwards).

    I think it depends a lot on education at home/ school and publicity – it might also have a political tie – in the 60s when the feminist movement got big, Labour was in power, not just in the UK but in a lot of European countries, and there was a window for acceptance, maybe even linked to the communist ideas of brothers and sisters having equal rights in a classless society.

    To come back to Wallace’s text, I think equality can be achieved (as we can see in our teaching staff) and schools are the best place to start. (But it might only be possible if we manage to make our issues resonate in the wider public and get rid of this unpopular stance that feminist organisations have.*)

    *One could start by renaming & reframing.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Lilly Schofield on November 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Wallace’s article points out interesting questions concerning male / female voices in academic and public discourse. As a woman teaching literature written by women she is doubly confronted with the ever prevalent cultural condescension attached to ‘femininity’. Literature is still considered a ‘soft’ (feminine) science in comparison with the ‘hard’ (masculine) natural sciences. Clearly, this hierarchy still determines the way women not only write, read and teach literature but write, read and speak (teach) in general. Looking to the past and analysing who has spoken for women is one thing, but will it be possible to change the way that female voices are received in the future?

    Reply

  6. Posted by jnajjar on November 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    The layout of the curriculum taught at schools has clearly influenced the ways in which we perceive gender. We often taught about male writers and their literary influences, yet we are not taught much about women’s writing and women’s literary achievements. It is unfair to think that we are given the option to study women’s writing at university, yet it is imperative that we study the work of male authors without questioning.

    Reply

    • Posted by jnajjar on November 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      The layout of the curriculum taught at schools has clearly influenced the ways in which we perceive gender. We are often taught about male writers and their literary influences, yet we are not taught much about women’s writing and women’s literary achievements. It is unfair to think that we are given the option to study women’s writing at university, yet it is imperative that we study the work of male authors without questioning.

      Reply

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