Feminist criticism can be described as the art of examining the position of women in the society through the literal lens. Throughout the ages, the woman has been perceived as a weaker gender and therefore unworthy to receive rights and privileges that would elevate her to the standards that match that of a man. As a result, she has been discriminated in the society, with men using this opportunity to advance themselves while suppressing every instance that would allow women to advance economically, socially and even politically. While women have been perceived as inferior to men, there is enough evidence to show that women too, just like men, can rise and represent the society socially, economically and politically.
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There are many authors that have arisen in the past and championed for equal treatment of women in the society. Among these authors is Virginia Woolf. According to Roe and Sellers (2000), the work of Virginia Woolf’s was characterised with a concern on gender identities in the society and thus advocating a change in the way men and women related in society and how they perceived each other in terms of their duties and roles (210). The focus of feminist criticism has therefore been on the plight of women in society and the chances they have missed in the past because of being oppressed by the male dominated society. Among the issues that have brought controversy in discussions that have occurred concerning the girl child is her ability to compete effectively for opportunities that are provided by the society while taking into account that many societies, even those that claimed to be civilised are yet to embrace the fact that women can handle issues in the society well just like their male counterparts.
According to Woolf (1945), in her essay ‘The Professions for Women’, the suppressions of the abilities of a woman has over time eroded her esteem as a human being and made her vulnerable to the wiles and demands of the society, a fact that has caused most women not to focus on what they can be able to do but rather on what the society dictates as their duties and responsibility. As a result, the woman has held thoughts that a woman who stands out and fights for her rights is not a noble woman, starting from the most powerful women in the society such as the queen to the lowest such a peasant farmer’s wife. However, Woolf (1945) discredits the womanly instincts that have always portrayed her as a weaker gender in the society. Instead, she argues that for one to make an impact in the male dominated society, a woman needs to shed off the scales of tenderness and tackle the challenges that are posed to her by men.
The issues that Virginia Woolf raises in the essay ‘The Professions for Women’ have been discussed from one generation to another, with the intensity of these discussions growing in the mid 20th and the 21st century. Bayes and Tohidi (2001) asserts that the fight by women for equal treatment in society has bore fruits in the West and more and more women are finding their way into the most influential positions in such societies (43). However, there are concerns that are yet to be tackled by the society concerning the position of women. For example, the Muslim community has maintained uncompromising position towards women and their role and responsibility in the society. While the West has given up on some of the position it held, the Middle East and a greater part of Asia has discriminated again women, with many of them being expected to maintain their tenderness and remain calm even when their rights are violated. As a result, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of literal work to criticise the mental perception that a woman cannot be independent and liberal.
Conversely, while there are many literal pieces that have been written by renowned women writers and a few men concerning the plight of women in the society, it is important for women too to express their need and readiness to be liberated and be independent. As was observed by Woolf (1945), there are decisions that have been made by women in the past that reveals that women are not prepared to carry the responsibility of the rest of the society. In giving an example to this, Woolf (1945) observes the manner in which these women spend their money. She takes into account the fact that instead of elevating her own life using what she has earned through her work, she spends it on items that invites ridicule from the rest of the society.
As a matter of fact, women cannot be allowed to participate in sensitive positions in the society if they cannot portray that are independent enough to make rational decisions that will affect the society positively rather than dragging it behind. Consequently, possessing various skills and experience can play a very important role in elevating their status in the society. Men have argued that they cannot allow to be led by women since they are not as bright as men and in most cases make vague decisions. Therefore, it is important for women in the society to take that initiative of gaining knowledge and skills not only in careers such a literature and languages but also in professions that have been dominated by men in the society such as Information Technology and Engineering (Barnes 23).
On the other hand, a rise of women in politics can also go a long way in fighting for those that cannot defend themselves such as young girls in the society through ensuring that the legislature that is passed in Parliament, the Congress, the Senate, etc guarantees that the right to basic needs such as education is honoured. Thus, as she grows, the girl child will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge that enables her to stand as an independent woman in the society. For example, the women that have found their way into leadership of modern governments began participating in leadership campaigns when they were young in schools and colleges, thus exposing themselves to the leadership skills and tactics that would later on give them comparative advantage as they launched into national politics (Barnes 73).
Writing alone therefore on women issues in the society is not enough. Affirmative actions must be taken to ensure that both men and women are able to walk the talk as they deliberate on the freedom that women require in the society. For example, issues of women education must be taken with the seriousness it deserves since most families, especially among the poor in the society have overlooked the factors that affect women and instead focussed on means and ways of elevating the man among them, thinking that they will be salvaged from poverty when he is empowered. On the other hand, most writers, including women writers have coiled around when touching on the issues that affect women. However, there is need for women writers to face the issues the way they are in the society and bring their fear of men to an end (Woolf).
In the same way, women literal writers have to support their own gender instead of standing against it. This is seen where women have been called to serve in different position in the society such as politics. In such cases, some women writers have been seen condemning the efforts made by others to break away from the gender’s yoke of slavery that they have carried for very many centuries. A case in point is the 2008 political campaigns. In the run up to these elections, a few women supported Hilary Clinton’s dream to become the first female president of the United States of America. On the contrary, she received a lot of criticism including from women who should have supported her. In the same elections, Sarah Palin was not supported by women writers. In its place, some women writers commended negatively about her, a fact that greatly reduced her credibility among the voters (Whittington). How can the female literal world enlighten the society on the importance of respecting the rights of a woman in the society while they attack those that tries to rise to influential positions of leadership? Women must understand that a society that has no oneness cannot progress in its agendas.
According to woolf (1945), in the essay ‘The Professions for Women’, there are many obstacles that women have to overcome to be effective in their fight against inequality in the society they live in. This is mainly the self. As a matter of fact, there is natural fear and instincts that have driven women writers away from the truth that a woman too can be able to perform just as man when it comes to dealing with different issues in the society. Inferiority complex between the genders has been a contributing factor to women shrinking back when they are supposed to seize the opportunity to champion for their course. Unless this is defeated, feminist criticism has a long way to go before women are truly and completely liberated.
In summary, while women have been perceived as inferior to men, there is enough evidence to show that women too, just like men, can rise and represent the society socially, economically and politically. This requires that they arise in boldness and fight not just for a single day, but every day until they finally obtain their desired freedom and liberty. On the other hand, dealing with the self will reduce the intensity of this fight among women by a substantive margin as this has been the greatest obstacle that has prevented them from moving ahead and claiming their rights in the society.
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