Feminist Theory

The literature available on this movement is insurmountable. It is a very daunting task to undertake a rough review of the movement and its basic theoretical assumptions. There are scores of names of leading feminist theorists that keep popping up in front of any reader who attempts to read through the literature available.

To show the magnitude of the task, here is a sweeping list of few names that have contributed to the movement in various ways: Dale Spender, Dorothy Richardson, Elaine Showalter, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Helen Cixous, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Jane Gallop, Jane Marcus, Josette Feral, Judith Fetterley, Julia Kristeva, Juliet Mitchell, Kate Millett, Luce Irigaray, Marcia Holly, Marry Ellmann, Mary Jacobus, Michel Barrett, Monique Wittig, Nathalie Sarrault, Robin Lakoff, Sandra M. Gilbert, Shulamith Firestone, Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Gubar, Susan Robin Suleiman, Toril Moi, Virginia Woolf, Xaviere Gauthier.

Though belonging to the same movement, these intellectuals’ opinions and discourses are not by necessity compatible with each other’s. On the contrary, most of them held opposing positions to each other. As a hint about the diversity of the feminist movement, each of the women mentioned above entrenched herself behind an already existing theoretical position or more such as Bourgeois, Marxist, Freudian, Lacanian, Deconstructive, Structuralist, etc. It does not matter here; who among the feminists listed says what in opposition to whom. A short introduction of this caliber aims at reviewing the movement as a whole focusing attention on its basic tenets that will enable the student to produce a relatively well-informed criticism guided by these theoretical assumptions.

As a matter of fact, I am wary about using the term theory to refer to the huge body of literature on feminism. I have been using the term movement instead, because, on the one hand, there is no single defined theory to talk about, as I hinted before; and on the other hand, some feminists contested that the rubric “theory” is masculine by nature, and should not be even associated with feminism. Quite a radical point; is not it?

Reading on Feminist Theory

Historical Overview about Feminism from Artistotle

The Feminist Movement