Numerous critics believe that because men and women encounter different life experiences, the authorship of male and female needs to be different. Others believe that male authors are not suitable to write from the female perspective because of the female ideals they cannot experience in life. In most cases, the majority of life from the female point of view in literature is depicted by women authors. Nonetheless, numerous male authors have taken up the role of female authorship and perception. When male authors write women literature, it is apparent that there are different ways women will be depicted as compared to when female authors write about the same literature. This paper presents an analysis of why the theory of female authorship needs to be different from the theory of male authorship.
Gender remains to be a significant element in the lives of human beings, beginning from the point of their birth to a point where they are directed to norms and cultures that dictate what is considered suitable for men and women. From the time a person is born, human construction is aligned in a manner that follows a strict code of conductthat is different with regards tothe element of sex. In many traditional and contemporary societies, the male gender is always privileged in life and is professed to be the standard for human experience. On the other hand, many women are considered as the subject and submissive to the males.In most cases, women aredefined in accordance to their relationship to males. Nonetheless, the idea of obliging men and women to fit in the two gender responsibilities is detrimentalsince it leads to the perception that these roles are a representation of the truth, thus enhancing the concept of gender stereotype.Furthermore, these beliefs subject both men and women to view life from different angles, that is, their approach as men or women and not as human beings. Literature is considered a reflection of life, which symbolizes the true worlds that are reflected in the genders to give aprecise experience that women and men go through in terms of gender. It is difficult to stop the idea of gender roles; however, some male authors in literature have made an effort to perceive life from a woman’s angle. In this analysis, the paper focuses on thereason why the theory of female authorship needs to be different from the theory of male authorship.
Apparently, there are many women feminist theorists as compared to men. Among the few men theorists who have analyzed the concept men who write from the female authorship of perspective is Alan Williamson. In the literature, “Almost a Girl: Male Writers and Female Identification,”Alan describes his thoughts in the first section. The authoremphasizes on the difficult situations that several male authors experience when writing from the female’s point of view. Firstly, Alan affirms that certain gender elements, for instance, specific sentiments, definite basic human motives like self-lovedemonstration, powerfulcognizance of one’s own body, affectionateand susceptibility are feminine oriented. Subsequently, a man who exhibits such characteristics, particularly in the cognitive makeup, can encounter a crisis of gender personality (Williamson 1).
According to Williamson, men who associate with the specific natures of women may also be embarrassed for being associated with men and fear being isolated as a result of their aptitude to be identified with women. If men do not fall under the accepted gender responsibilities, they are not acknowledged as real members of the perceive sex. Additionally, numerous male authors also encounter severe criticism from feminists. The author acknowledges that in the earlier times, feminist thoughts from men authors were aimed at spreading propaganda, which has continued to elicit suspicion from women feminists until now, especially those who still believe that this notion is still present (Williamson 2). Williamson condemns the feministdetractorsby accusing them of not appreciating the effort that male authors have put in to be able to write from the women’s point of viewsand experience. Many women critics have been quick to trigger aninhibitioninstead of a genuine empathyevery time male authors attempt tosignify a female perception. Many of these women fear that male authors propagate stereotypes aimed at exposing womento maintain the male dominance status quo. Besides, feminine critics fear about the intuitions that women novelistsneed an opportunity to talkon their behalf (Williamson 2).
According to Williamson, it is apparent that the contemporary male authors are being held responsible for the mistakes that the past authors applied in castigating feminist notions about women. This turns out to be adispiriting concept sincethe contemporary feminist faultfindersare not willing to see beyond the mistakes that were committed in the past. Furthermore, these categories of female critics are also barring themselves from studying the expounded aspect that is effective in providing a new understanding about gender and new concepts of gender role that is beyond man-woman role and responsibilities.Moreover, holding unto this perception does not help in addressing the gender issue, but rather underpinsthe different genders, which can be destructive to males as they have been to women.For instance, if women continue seeing men as masculine and chauvinist, men will perceive themselves in the same way, which may affect their willingness to change.
Nonetheless, Judith Kegan Gardiner holds a different view. Gardiner is a theorist who centers her philosophies of gender on literary criticism with regards to the disparities in men and women’s understandings of life. Like Williamson, Gardines affirms that men and women have different lives and roles regarding sex orientation. Therefore, it is apparent that these differences in sexual representations will be mirrored in their literature work or writing. As indicated in one of her essay “On Female Identity and Writing by Women,” the author states that “women’s understandingscontrast from men’s in deep and systematicmanner” (Gardiner178). Gardines further affirms that, “In a masculinesubjugatedculture, being a man means not being like a woman” (Gardiner 189).Consequently, the conductperceived as proper to each sexturns out to bestrictlylimited and separated(Gardiner 189). Therefore, the theoristconsiders that thedissimilarities in gender roles and responsibilities women and men go through have a great impact onthe literature of the sexes. For instance, Kegan explains that different traits are exhibited in women writing as compared to men’s. In women’s writing there is a “recurrent imagery and distinctive concept … for example, imagery of confinement and unsentimental descriptions of child care” (Gardiner 178). However, in males writing, “male literatureoftensplits characters into disjunct fragments, while female characters in novels by women tend to dissolve and merge into each other (185). She explains further that female identity in literature is a process (179). According to Kegan, it is evident that sexual characteristics impact the development of the disposition, which in sequenceaffects writing.
Many other philosophershold on to the fact that male writers may at first appear to be like feminists in their literature but that might be different at the end. For instance, Laura Claridge and Elizabeth Langlade in their literature affirm that writing against patriarchy as a man does not necessarily imply that it is aimed at freeing women frommasculinitycaptivity, which is the main objective of the ethical feminism. Furthermore, many feminist authorshave a habit ofincluding a political agenda in their literature (Claridge 3). When one critically analyzes their literature, it is clear that the male writers usually havetheir own personal motiveinstead of feminist role.
According to numerous female critics, it is apparent that a high number of the male authors write ineffectively from the female’sviewpoint. Consequently, they are confident that female authors are in a good position to write effectively from their own perception as compared to men.The concept of male and female identity is also significant and many theorists attest that it is fundamental when addressing the issue of female authors. For example, Susan Gubarobserves that males perceive women as blank pages. Nevertheless, at times women also perceive themselves in the same manner, therefore, using literature toreinvent themselves. This implies that many female authors are intensely engaged in their literature since they consider it as a re-modelling of themselves whilethe male writers establishan external concept.
According to Judith Kegan,the idea of personality is important in acknowledging the concept of feminine and masculineproduction. In relation to the notion held by Williamson theory, Kegan affirms that there is a single formationof female identity women authorship. According to the author, a female identity formation is hooked on the relationship between the mother and the daughter. Therefore, parentalrepresentation of femininewritingelucidates the women writers’typicalcommitmentto their characters. This symbolizes acorrespondinglink or association between a woman reader and a character (Gardiner 179). This implies that a female writer always perceivesher female character as her own daughter,a fact that many women readers acknowledge in the literature. This, therefore, establishes an effective relation among women readers due to the mother daughter relationship. Moreover, Kegan also believes that women in the literature focus on their writing, particularly the women character’s part of anongoingdevelopment. This encompasses personal self-definition as well as empathic elements to their literature and the female audience since it forms their personal and unique symbolism.
Another female thinker,Annis Pratt, analyzes how sexual category responsibilities impact the manner in whichnovelistswrite as presented in her book“Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Fiction.” According Annis, women’s literaturereveals an understanding, which is very different from the men’s. This is because women’s determination towards development as individuals has been frustratedby the societies’definition of gender (Pratt 6). The theorist believes that apart from the gender definition roles being oppressive to women in their normal responsibilities, they have also affected them in literature works. Pratt affirms that outcomes of masculinity have become obvious in the literature authored by women. According to Pratt, in many women writers’ novels, there is clear concept of women being perceived as pariahs in the community or land with no sense of belonging or identity within the society (Pratt 6). This has been caused by many frustrations women encounter by being told every time what to be and what to do, an aspect that is very different from what men go through (Pratt 6.
In analyzing the argument presented by Pratt, it is evident that cognizance of a male-dominated culturecannot be presented in literatures that are authored by men. This is because men have been directly affected by the real life situations as compared to women in terms of gender and life oppression. On the other hand, apart from the literature by women echoing theirsubjugation and its outcomes in the society, the writings also acknowledge the desire of the women to overcome these dominations. The author asserts that for a long time, women’s novels have been a fountain of not only repulsions but also optimisms (Pratt 12).
TheLiterary Feminisms work by Ruth Robbins also deliberateson the concept of female writers. In literature, the authorstartsby analyzing some history of female authors. According to Robbins, writing was acknowledged as a role to be undertaken by women since it does not overshadowher other domestic responsibilities. The author states further that despite the fact that a woman was allowed to establish a character that exhibited some confidence and independence in the fabricated world, her perceived role and responsibility as a wife and a mother domestically remained unchanged (Robbins 35).
Robbins shadows the model of social construction that holds on to the fact that everything, including personal identity,is impacted upon by established relationswith social members. This implies that ifa woman author did not have an opportunity to be exposed to feminism, that would have never been her identityand she would not have been represented in her literature. Despite the fact that writing provided an escape to many women writers,broad-minded feminist philosophieswere not emphasized. In explaining this point, Robbins affirms that several images that are seen or read are a section of the context humankind live in. (Robbins 51). Therefore, many women literature authors have emphasized on the past male literature works instead of concentrating on the contemporary ones. The current society’s interpretations of women have sharply transformed and gender functions and responsibilities are not strict as they were in olden days.A good example can begrasped through “The Second Wave” of women’s liberationthat took place in the United States together with the Civil Rights movement. Therefore, it is clear that old literature works echoed something different about women as compared to today’s literature by men. Consequently, if only the women’s advocates emphasized on the contemporary literature by male writers, the perception would have been different.
Additionally, Robbins concurs with many other feminist detractors that negative portrayal of women in literature is damaging. For instance, Robbins deliberates on the novel by Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, whichisamong the initial women authors’ writings. According to Robbin,“For Mary Wollstonecraft, the prevalence of misconceived representations of women as meek, obedient, passive and pretty, was an evil because such representations had real effects in the development of real women’s lives” (Robbins 51). This concept is, however, a result of the societal perception because if women read masculineexplanations, they will accept things as they are and will never be part of transformation to change the negative sex stereotypes. This scenario is even more threatening if females write the male dominated literature worksbecause other women in society will have a negative perception about women’s feelings, thus submitting them deeper into the female stereotypes.
In conclusion, the manner in which literature isviewed by readers is determined by the gender of the writer or author. Commonly, menare considered in the society to be strong at the same time symbolizing a universal understanding. According to Gardiner (185), Carolyn Heilbrun is also another woman disparager who asserts that women authors assume that it only men who can experience full range of human experience in their attainment of success or failure.
This notion is destructive to female authors by making them develop a feeling that they are incompetent of writing stories that give meaning to life. Furthermore, if the readers hold on to these beliefs, they also develop initial conclusions concerning a given literature work, thus, subjecting the concern of gender roles.A differentharmfullabelis the notion that male authors are perceived to be truthful in meanings whereas female authors are only acknowledged in the art of describing experiences. In most cases, literature written by men in seeking for meaning portray them as independent individuals who go to the world alone to find for precise meaning. On the other hand, women must always be considerate of others, especially their husbands and children. From this analysis, it is apparent that the theory of female authorship needs to be different from the theory of male authorship.
Claridge, Laura P, and Elizabeth Langland. Out of Bounds: Male Writers and Gender(ed) Criticism. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990. Print.
Gardiner, Judith Kegan. “On Female Identity and Writing by Women.” Writing and Sexual Difference. Ed. Elizabeth Abel. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980
Pratt, Annis, and Barbara White. Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981. Print.
Robbins, Ruth. Literary Feminisms. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
Williamson, Alan. “Introduction.” Almost a Girl: Male Writers and Female Identification. Charlottesville, VA: The University Press of Virginia, 2001