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Feminist Material Redux - 3 More Interesting Articles That Prompt Gender Equality Discussion

Updated on December 27, 2014
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In The Feminist Spectator as Critic, Jill Dolan concisely defines feminism as "a critique of male ideology, formed in light of a will to change it." As keystone modernist feminism texts approach a century in age, it behooves those interested in continuing to disseminate feminist ideals in an arresting and engaging way. Based on this premise, the following sites offer application of feminist criticism in an array of popular mediums, offering potential students of feminist or gender studies innovative prompts for spurring discussion on gender equality.

Salamanders: A Night at the Phi Delt House

http://www.folkstreams.net/film,113

This documentary records an annual fraternity tradition of capturing, drowning and swallowing salamanders. Set against the backdrop of a weekend "drunk," Salamanders offers its viewers a pretense; that by ingesting more salamanders than their male counterparts, the depicted sorority sisters have achieved gender equality by unusual means. The reality becomes more clear as the viewer begins to analyze an overpowering "male gaze" mediating the performing females and ideal spectator males.

Discussion Point: From an audience's perspective, the sexualization of the sorority sisters proves embarrassingly transparent: why don't the females demonstrate any awareness of their objectification? Once more, does the documentary approach to the material absolve or even more thoroughly indict the viewer from the imposed gender norms? Carefully parsing out the distinctions between ideal spectator and mere viewer can uncover insightful observations about the essential traits of "male gaze."

The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies

The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s

One of Anita Sarkeesian's earliest and perhaps most careworn Feminist Frequency videos, the sequence encapsulates observations first appearing in Alison Bechdel's web comic, Dykes to Watch Out For. Essentially, Alison Bechdel proposes a simple, three question quiz for assessing the positive presence of female identity in film: are there at least two, named female characters featured in the narrative? Do these characters have a conversation not presided by a male? Does the aforementioned conversation pertain to anything but a male? According to Sarkeesian, the sheer volume of popular films that fail this test signifies a systemic prejudice against female presence in popular culture.

Discussion Point: Besides the obvious conversations spurred by attempting to identify one or several films that pass the above litmus test, Sarkeesian's video also introduces the notion of systemic, imposed gender norms. What is the nature, for example, of male hegemony in popular media? Does this issue represent an even greater hegemonic standard? Probing such questions shall doubtless uncover even a casual film lovers' "unknown knowns."

Philip Marlowe Attends a Court Mandated Women's Studies Workshop

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/philip-marlowe-attends-a-court-mandated-womens-studies-workshop

Juliana Gray watchwords juxtaposition in this humorous article for McSweeney's publishing house. In this brief narrative, hard boiled detective cum masculine icon Philip Marlowe is forced to attend a workshop on gender equality populated by stereotypes rivaling Raymond Chandler's most noir rogues. Highlights include a misinterpretation of the term "private dick," Marlowe's first encounter with a lesbian and comparisons between the ideal feminist and femme fatales.

Discussion Point: Though more jejune than the above articles, Gray's narrative paints a vivid contra-distinction between hyper masculine and feminist lexicons. Among its more provocative arguments is the notion that gender equality is less a manifestation of socio-political axioms than linguistic dichotomies. Certainly, the article succinctly introduces the need for criticism in everyday speech when pursuing gender equality.

We Can Do It!

Know any other online resources for substantiating the need for studying feminist criticism? I look forward to your comments and thank you in advance for any kind words. Check out my other Hub Pages for additional suggestions for navigating college assignments by working smart instead of merely working hard.

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