EVOLUTION OF FEMINIST THEORY
`Competition for resources is the foundation of evolutionary theory. It is the force that drives a species to survive.’
Charles Darwin (1859)
The dichotomy between sexes has been there from ages where women are seen as inferior to men, who were considered as protectors. History in itself is a testament of the division between genders and studies in Philosophy, Literature, Economics etc. These discourses are largely male-centric. Women in contrast to men are expected to be subservient towards their husband, look after the children and do the household chores even to this day. They are defined not as positive and independent entities like men, but rather looked at as negative and dependent towards men.
During the middle Ages, women writers opposed the very structure of societies but their voices were suppressed. It is these inequalities which lead to the emergence of ` Feminism ‘in 18th and 19th century.
Credentials were not given to Women’s literary works and women writers. In order to bring their works in the main stream, they had to take on pseudonyms of men to get their works published; one example was that of the Bronte sisters. Another Feminist writer who revolutionised the literary tradition was Jane Austen with her iconic novel, Pride and Prejudice. Handful of scholars and philosophers portrayed the women in a positive light. One among such was Lacan in his depiction of women in Courtly love.
Women choices are constantly monitored by the society which expects them to be stooge towards Men. Their literary works were considered insipid and their self are defined in relation with men. The restriction Society imposed on Female gender goad the feminist writer to act as an ombudsman and fight against the prevailing system. Feminist writers from across the world sprout in and challenged patriarchal systems in their works. The theme they explored was on discrimination, sexual objectification, aesthetics etc. Simone de Beauvoir, to name some few stood in opposition of the image of the women in the home. She endowed an existentialist element to feminism with the publication of her book The Second sex where she questions the very source of women’s inequality. Her study on The Second Sex became the foundation of Feminist Theory.
Lecture by Asst.Prof. Vijayaganesh, Christ University, Bangalore on 10 February 2014.