Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Guest Post by Anna: A Feminist Literary Canon, Part Eight: 1990-2000

Hillary Clinton (born 1947) is an American politician. In 1995 her speech at the 1995 UN Conference on Women, called Women’s Rights are Human Rights (1995) showed her “speaking more forcefully on human rights than any American dignitary has on Chinese soil” as the NY Times put it. It is often considered one of the landmark speeches in the global struggle for women’s rights, and condemns all abuses of women wherever they occur. It can be read in its entirety here.

Eve Ensler (born May 25, 1953) is an American playwright, performer, feminist, activist and artist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues. This play is made up of various feminist monologues centering around women’s experiences with their vaginas, based on interviews Ensler did with various women. 
However, it has come in for some criticism, mostly due to the monologue "The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could", in which an underage girl (thirteen in earlier performances, sixteen in the revised version) recounts being given alcohol and then having sex with an adult woman; the incident is recalled fondly by the grown girl, who in the original version of the play calls it "a good rape." This monologue is omitted from some versions. 
In 1998, Ensler’s experience performing The Vagina Monologues inspired her to create V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day raises funds and awareness through annual benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues, and has raised over $800,000,000 so far.

Susan Faludi (born April 18, 1959) is an American journalist and author. Faludi's 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argues that the 1980s saw a backlash against feminism in America, especially due to the spread of negative stereotypes against career-focused women. Faludi asserts that many who argue "a woman's place is in the home, looking after the kids" are hypocrites, since they have wives who are working mothers or, as women, they are themselves working mothers. This work won her the National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction in 1991.
Naomi Wolf (born 1962) is an American author and former political consultant. She is most famous for the book The Beauty Myth (1991) which argues that as women have gained increased social power and prominence, expected adherence to standards of physical beauty has grown stronger for women. that "beauty" as a normative value is entirely socially constructed, and that the patriarchy determines the content of that construction with the goal of reproducing its own hegemony.

Rebecca Walker (born November 17, 1969) is an American writer. She co-founded the Third Wave Foundation, which aims to encourage young women to get involved in activism and leadership roles. The organization now provides grants to individuals and projects that support young women. 
Walker is considered one of the founding leaders of third-wave feminism. She wrote an article for Ms. Magazine called Becoming the Third Wave (1991), criticizing the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice after he was accused of sexually harassing his employee Anita Hill. Using this example, Walker addresses the oppression of the female voice and introduces the concept of third-wave feminism, a term her article coined. Walker defines third wave feminism at the end of the article by saying “To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of life. It is to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in sisterhood with women when often we are divided, to understand power structures with the intention of challenging them.”

Riot Grrrl was an American underground feminist punk rock movement that originally started in Washington, D.C.; Olympia, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and the greater Pacific Northwest in the early to mid-1990s. The Riot Grrrl Manifesto (1991) criticizes male-dominated culture and encourages girls to build their own alternative. It can be read in its entirety here.
Part Six of the feminist literary canon has been expanded to include some non-American writers. The expanded version is available here.
Also please note that Hélène Cixous was born in French Algeria, which I forgot to write on Feministing.