What is Gender Criticism?

Descriptions used to define gender criticism include, “Gender criticism examines how sexual identity influences the creation, interpretation, and evaluation of literary works.” (Kennedy, 2071)

In the 1960’s the gender criticism approach began when feminist criticism arose. There are definite differences that have been noted between gender criticism and feminist criticism. The difference is sex and sexuality. Gender Criticism is based on common conceptions of gender. The purpose of this criticism is to disparage gender as we commonly envision it. (Boudreau)

Purpose of gender criticism is to criticize gender as we commonly conceive of it. Essentialism concentrates of the differences between men and women and their bodies. Constructionism concentrates in the differences being related to nurture not nature. (Boudreau) There has also been the emergence of a men’s movement seeking to revive a manly distinctiveness in new way. (Kennedy and Gioia, 2040) Men are also inclined to portray unfeminine women in their writing. (Boudreau)

Men_Women.JPGWhat has caused the continued gender role differences?

Gender distinction has historically been everywhere. Even the public bathrooms that you visit exhibit the sign that children are likely first to relate to gender. As you see in the picture of the entrances to the restroom. At early ages children learn that males wear pants and women wear dresses. The number of women that routinely wear pants more than dresses has increased tremendously. The video from YouTube, below illustrates the common gender roles as children see them.

Gender Criticism is present in literature viewed as early as the time of learning to read. dickandjane.JPGMany Americans may have read “Dick and Jane” books. The image shown illustrates the typical roles of males and females. You see the mother is pictured in the kitchen with the children as well as possibly singing and clapping with the children. There are many works in child's literature some of which are seen in the numerous works of Walt Disney, stereotypes of sexes impact the concept of gender by children. A widely viewed concept of females in child's literature depicts, dainty and beautiful women. Many of the females are princesses or mothers. Males are shown as strong characters and heroes the majority of the time.

History behind Gender Criticism

After outgrowing the child hood reading Americans are again able to see the effects of gender in William Shakespeare’s work. Many say that the use of the body in a vivid manner by Shakespeare is a fine example. In Hamlet the madness of Ophelia is an example of the role of gender criticism. Ophelia is consumed with an actual madness since she perceives that she has a problematic relationship. Her madness escalates with the death of her father Polonius. Hamlet however, exhibits a pretend sense of madness resulting from a plan to avenge his father’s death. The distinction between the susceptibility of the two sexes to be driven to madness displays how males often resemble greater emotional strength than females. There are many other instances that depict the gender roles in Shakespeare’s work.

Other attributes to gender criticism of could be the deficiency of female authors until into the 20th century. Historically female education has been inferior to that of males. After the 19th Century women were more frequently allowed admission to colleges and universities. The amounts of women that attain master’s degrees and doctoral degrees have also risen. (WIC)The resulting stereotype that "a woman's place is in the home" has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves.”(WIC)

Of the early female authors many chose to use pseudonyms for their writing. The use of a man’s name for a pen name was a very common practice. A brief listing of the common pseudonyms historically used by women: H.D. Imagiste, - Hilda Doolittle, George Sand -Aurore Dudevant , Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell - Charlotte, Emily and Anne, A.M. Barnard - Louisa May Alcott, Francoise - Robertine Barry, and George Eliot - Mary Ann Evans.(Stingley) Women used the pen names for various reasons but most commonly they were used to protect their privacy and because the views of others that women should not write. (Goodman and Gay, 64) Since so many women used pen names the identity of the author was usually styled to be ambiguous. “Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil.” (WIC) Stereotypes that depict women as evil and inferior prevent equity.

A diverse model of gender criticism that is in poetry is Emily Dickinson. Her work gave accounts of daily life in America for women. (Sugg) Even though she was a great poet, Emily was not recognized during her lifetime. Her first work was published in 1890 four years after her death. Her work was found after her death in 40 volumes of nearly 1800 poems. (Emily). In her poem 280, Emily discusses how she feels she is stuck, more specifically trapped in a coffin, in a world that is centered on males. There are many of Emily’s poems that are important in gender criticism movement. Since Emily can be considered a pioneer for women in literature, then that alone resembles her importance in the movement. It is thought that poems written by “anonymous” were actually women. Also themes of poems were generally of being trapped in life and isolated. These common gendered themes are all characteristics in Emily’s work.

The Future of Gender Criticism

Some of the gender differences may be lessened in the future. There are many more women working outside of the home. Women over age 25, that have a bachelors degree or more spend less time doing house work than working outside the household during the day. (Women)

graph2.JPGEducation has an important role in the increasing amount of women in the work force. Statistically more women that attend college earn a bachelors degree than men that attend college. Women are also less likely than men to leave school once they are enrolled, without graduating. (Women)

The video from ABC News, discusses how more men are worrying about balancing work and home than before. More women in the workforce have more families with both spouses sharing the household responsibilities. There are more two earner income marriages than in the past, as well as more men that are becoming the stay at home parent. The economy has had a large impact on the workforce. With more job lay-offs consisting of men than women, there is a higher amount of unemployed men. The unemployed men are now beginning to assume the roles of domestic duties and stay at home parent, which their working spouse once held. The workforce and its impact on families may be a turning point in gender differences that may ultimately change gender criticism in literature.

Works Cited
Boudreau, Brenda. "Gender Criticism." McKendree University. Web. 04 Apr. 2011. <http://faculty.mckendree.edu/brenda_boudreau/English%20290/gender_criticism.htm>.
Denega, Danielle, and Larry Ruppert. Rainy Day Fun. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 2005.
"Emily Dickinson." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Academy of American Poets. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155>.
Goodman, Lizbeth, and Gay Jane De. The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
"Google Images." Google. Youwillneverfind.us, 01 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http:youwillneverfind.us/creative2010/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Set-Bathroom-Signs-11-1-08.jpg.w560h379.jpg>.
Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. "Chapter 48 Critical Approaches to Literature." Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. New York: Longman, 2010. Print.
Stingley, Jeanette. "Pen Names Use by Women Writers - Women's Lit." BellaOnline -- The Voice of Women. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art8824.asp>.
"WIC - Women's History in America." Newwicpage. Women's International Center. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.wic.org/misc/history.htm>.
"Women at Work." U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. Mar. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2011/women/pdf /women_bls_spotlight.pdf>.
"YouTube - Gender Roles-Interviews with Kids." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. GoldenHSCsac, 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <http://youtu.be/pWc1e3Nbc2g>.
"YouTube - Generation of Dissolving Gender Roles." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.// ABCNews, 05 May 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <http://youtu.be/l51rxnKJRfk>.

Brittany Burton's review of Hallie Davis' Wiki page

Hallie, I think you did an amazing job on your wiki project. I liked how you did the definition of Gender Criticism, then the history of it and how it will continue in the future. The photos were perfect for this wiki page. Very good work.

Jessica Williams’ Review of Hallie Davis’s page
I think your page is just about perfect. You did a very good job and there were many things you mentioned I would have never even thought about. This is a topic often discussed in my house because I have one young son and one young daughter. Good job!

Clare Wahinya's Review of Hallie Davis' page
Hallie, you did a great job with your wiki page. You give the reader plenty of information that expands on gender criticism. Your design is well crafted too, with plenty of images to accompany the text. You also give headings that guide the reader on the content being discussed. Your works cited is included too but the formatting seems off. The first line should not be indented, but all others of the same source should be indented. Overall good job!

Notes to peers from Hallie Davis

Thanks for all of your comments. I appreciate them. Also if anyone can share information on how to correctly insert the works cited with the appropriate format, I would appreciate it. I am having trouble retaining the correct format when I copy and paste and when I type it directly.