Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Woman Question

My whole life is centred around women. I am always talking about them, always reading about them, always looking to be inspired by them. I've noticed this a lot at uni. I tend to be drawn to female writers, to female characters. I have to actively not choose the 'Woman Question' every week for my essay just so I can include some variety. 

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for centring my studies around feminism, around women. Should I be doing something else? Doesn't everyone do the woman question? It's not very original, is it? - being yet another under-grad focusing her degree on feminism.

And then I remember that for a very long time absolutely no one did the woman question. Female writers got forgotten over time because no one bothered to study them. Feminist criticism is very, very new. It's about time that lots and lots of undergrads started to write about the women in literature, fictional and real, and from a new point of view. 

One of my favourite lecturers said that people shouldn't write about female writers just because they are female; some female writers are crap, just like some male writers. But that doesn't take away from the fact that more crap male writers are better known than some brilliant female ones. I reserve the same judgment of quality of the literature I'm reading whether it's written by man or woman, there are just a lot more forgotten women to get through. 

Of course I write and read about topics other than the 'Woman Question', of course *some of them* are just as interesting to me. Of course I value variety and difference, I wouldn't be doing a literature degree if I didn't. But I am so bored of finding it hard to research certain female writers because very few people have written about them. I am so bored of male chauvinism overpowering female thought in literature. I am so bored of every female writer being placed under the 'Woman Question' and that often I have to go to that question in order to access them. 

This of course applies to the other brilliantly ignored sections of literature until very recently. For example the part of the British Empire that wasn't a white male is often conveniently under-appreciated, you have to search a lot harder to get to them.

So, yes, I refuse to apologise for writing about women. I refuse to accept that by studying and enjoying Woolf, Plath, Spark, the Brontes, Austen etc I am a stereotype. Men writing about Hemingway is a stereotype, or Kerouac, or Jerome K Jerome. But that's okay, because all these books are fascinating, all these books have new and different angles, and all these books are human. Women are human too, so I will continue to write about them - thank you very much!