Feminism Now and Then: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex

Charlotte Kessler | 26 June 2017.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the best known contemporary feminists; she is a Nigerian writer of novels, short stories and feminist theory. In 2014, she published her essay We Should All Be Feminists after giving a Tedx talk on her approach to feminism and followed it up with her feminist manifesto Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions in March 2017. Written as a letter to a friend, and recommending how to raise her newborn girl, Dear Ijeawele makes powerful statements about feminism today. Issues addressed in Dear Ijeawele resemble those raised in Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist classic The Second Sex, published in 1948. I will examine how Adichie has furthered de Beauvoir’s feminist thought and made it more inclusive and therefore better suited to contemporary feminism. Adichie echoes, whether consciously or unconsciously, arguments made by de Beauvoir in The Second Sex about childhood, the mother and marriage.

Read Article →

The (Ignored) Feminist Heroes of Wonder Woman

Scheherazade Khan | 13 June 2017

Warning : Spoilers ahead for Wonder Woman (2017)

Though box office ratings and some critiques seem to suggest that Wonder Woman is finally giving a female role the appropriate attention, I join with other critics who argue that the movie itself failed to deliver on the hope that it would be a feminist dream. For me, Wonder Woman suggests that the only way for female superheroes to be successful is to mimic traditionally male roles. That is, having adventures, engaging in physical violence while proclaiming superior – if not slightly naïve – moral standards, all while wearing absurdly tight clothing that seems like it would be a hindrance when fighting for one’s life. In comparison, the working women in the movie (of which there are a grand total of two) are used either as comic relief or for nefarious purposes.

Read Article →

Rap au féminin: What can France’s female hip hop scene teach us about identity politics?

Ellen Davis-Walker | 25 April 2017

Mathieu Kassovitz’s 1995 box office sensation La Haine has long been credited with propelling French hip hop on to the global stage. Drawing on original material by Ministère AMER, NTM and MC Solaar, the film’s soundtrack managed to capture the sonic traces of social unrest on the fringes of French society. Whilst France’s victory in the 1997 FIFA World Cup seemed to mark a momentary coming- together around the inclusive slogan ‘Black-Blanc-Beur’ (Black, White, Arab), the contentious and fractured question of national identity has continued to dominate the country’s musical and political landscape ever since.

The emergence of rap au féminin (female rap) over the past decade marked a significant step in the development of multi-faceted ‘French’ identity. While anglophone female artists of the early 2000s were predominantly focused on debunking “the sexual and material objectification faced by women in the industry,” this article will ask how rap au féminin has offered artists the possibility to explore both what it meant to be a woman in this period, and what it meant (and still means) to be French.

Read Article →

See No Evil: The Legitimisation of Violence Against Women in Hollywood

Harry Leonard | 23 January 2017.

{Warning: discussions of domestic and sexual assault}

On 28 May 2016, Amber Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against husband Johnny Depp amidst allegations of domestic assault. Seventeen years earlier, Nate Parker was acquitted of raping a woman when it emerged that, prior to the time in question, he had had consensual sex with his accuser. The ramifications of these charges re-emerged in 2016 for Parker when he was promoting his directorial debut Birth of a Nation. It is not my intention to equate the two cases but to compare them; to question the nature of the systems of privilege that explain Depp’s continued success and Parker’s condemnation.

Read Article →

Taylor Swift and the ‘Rules of Feminism’

Kitty Ruskin | 9th January 2017.

Many will remember Gretchen Weiner’s often quoted phrase from Mean Girls that dating friends’ ex-boyfriends is ‘off limits’, as per ‘the rules of feminism’. A few months ago, in the midst of the backlash against Taylor Swift, this line came back to me. I took a moment to consider exactly why Gretchen’s line stands out to me in this context, particularly as a feminist in 2016.

Read Article →

To Unmask is to Silence: the Case of Elena Ferrante

31 October 2016 ¦ Paulina Drėgvaitė

In A Room of One’s Own, first published in 1929, Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of space – both physical and metaphysical – to the undertaking of writing. This lack of space often prompts female writers to use a nom de plume or opt for anonymity in order to avoid scrutiny, or, in the past, to be published at all. The reasons for this are numerous. In many cases, the reception of literary work produced by women is locked within the framework of their gender and assuming a male persona allows it to transgress that boundary: think Mary Ann Evans choosing the comfort of naming herself George Eliot, think Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin opting for George Sand and the Brontë sisters publishing under masculine pseudonyms.

Read Article →

Scandalous Women: The Gendered Discourse of Celebrity Divorce

31 October ¦ Harriet MacMillan

Whilst many may not recognise her name, women living in Britain today owe Caroline Norton (1808-77) a great debt. Her zealous pursuit of reform led to landmark changes in the recognition of women in the law. Her campaigning directly propelled the passing of the Custody of Infants Act of 1839, which gave women the right to custody of their children. She also influenced the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870, which gave women the legal right to their own money. Although Norton certainly influenced the past, does her life still have resonance with contemporary feminist struggles? Can looking back on her story help us understand some of the challenges facing women, particularly famous women, today?

Read Article →

‘I made lemonade’: The Female Confessional in the Twenty-First Century

31 October 2016 ¦ Katie Goh

Confession: I love Sylvia Plath. The honesty of her poetic expression, the seeds of wisdom in her journals, the technical skill of her story stories, and the fundamental relatability of Esther Greenwood. As a teenager, I was seduced.

But then I went to university. From the lecturer who dismissed Plath as ‘privileged, confessional neediness,’ to boys at parties who scorned her while worshipping Bukowski, to Woody Allen’s patronising ‘interesting poetess’ dismissal in Annie Hall. It was embarrassing to like Sylvia Plath.

Read Article →

Imagined Trauma: Ideology and Motherhood in Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train

17 October 2016 | Chantal Bertalanffy

It was not the crime story which kept me awake until late at night and had me turning page after page; I was under the spell of the women in Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train (2015). I urgently needed to know if Rachel, Meagan and Anna would redeem themselves at the end of the novel, or if Hawkins herself was just as lost as her characters in a narrative which was not her own, this narrative being patriarchy. Without spoiling the ending, Hawkins did not disappoint me.

Read Article →

Finding My Feminist Anger Over the Stanford Rape Case and Sara Ahmed’s Goldsmiths’ Resignation

June 13, 2016 | Bridget Moynihan

[tw: discussions of rape, sexual assault]

Sara Ahmed’s making-visible of the willful subject’s feminist role in her widely-cited 2010 article “Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects)” continues to resonate deeply with intersectional feminist communities, and the significance of reclaiming the feminist killjoy cannot be overestimated. [1] Recently, I have been newly reminded of a very important point that Ahmed makes regarding anger in this same article.

Read Article →