Angélica Gorodischer on feminist literature

June 24, 2012 § 4 Comments

Passage taken from her 1994 book, Mujeres de Palabra, pp. 10-11.  Translation is first draft done by myself:

La cuestión de la literatura femenina, como la cuestión del feminismo, es algo muy simple que ha terminado por paracer endiabladamente complicado gracias a nuestro viejo conocido, el miedo.  Si el feminismo es simplemente la búsqueda de justicia (iguales oportunidades en la educación, en el trabajo, en el gobierno, en el hogar, en las actitudes, en las mentalidades) para las componentes de la mitad más una de la población del mundo, que somos además las madres de la otra mitad, la literatura femenina es simplemente una narrativa, la poesía, teatro o lo que sea, que se escribe no sólo evitando sino rechazando el estereotipo de la mujer que plantea la sociedad patriarcal; desde el continente negro convertido en playa blanca; fuera de los cánones de la historia del héroe o del antihéroe que es el mismo héroe de siempre pero vestido con andrajos y con barba de tres días.  De donde, claro, es evidente que varones y mujeres pueden hacer literatura femenina.  Cuando se animan.

No es cuestión de andar a las adivinanzas:  a ver, ¿quién escribió esta página, un varón o una mujer?  Eso es una tontería y a nadie le importa.  La escribió un hombre.  O la escribió una mujer.  En ambos casos hay un género del texto.  No se puede despojar de su género a un texto como no se le puede despojar de su ideología.  Cierto, no se entra a la narrativa, poesía, teatro, etc., por la puerta del género o de la ideología, tan cercanas ambas:  se entra por la puerta de la narrativa, poesía, etc. si no se quiere lograr más que un texto literario, un panfleto.  Pero la ideología, el género, están ahí, bajo los ojos de cualquiera que sea algo más que un descrifrador, una descrifradora de palabras.

The question of feminist literature, like that of feminism, is something very simple that has ended up seeming to be devilishly complicated thanks to our old acquaintance, fear.  If feminism is simply the search for justice (equal opportunities in education, in the workplace, in government, in the home, in attitudes and in mindsets) for those who comprise 51% of the world’s population (which we are furthermore the mothers of the other half), feminist literature is simply a narrative, poem, theatrical work or something else, which is written not only avoiding but instead rejecting the stereotype of women which the patriarchal society plants; from the dark continent turned into the white beach; away from the canons of the story of the hero or the antihero (which is the same hero as always, but dressed with rags and a three-days’ growth).  From which, of course, it is evident that men and women can make feminist literature.  When they feel like it.

It is not a question of making a guess:  to wit, who wrote this page, a man or a woman?  It is a foolish question and it matters to no one.  A man wrote it.  Or a woman wrote it.  In both cases there is a textual gender.  One cannot strip away one’s gender from a text just like one cannot strip away one’s own ideology.  True, no one enters a narrative, poem, theatrical work, etc. by the doors of gender or ideology; they are too narrow:  one enters by the door of narrative, poetry, etc. if one doesn’t want to achieve more than a literary text, a pamphlet.  But ideology, gender, they are there, under the eyes of anyone who be something more than a decoder, a decoder of words.

Yeah, a bit rough in places (I may smooth this out later in the week), but any thoughts on the sentiments expressed in this piece?


§ 4 Responses to Angélica Gorodischer on feminist literature

  • Anonymous says:

    I like the sentiment, but I'd love to hear from some female voices on the matter of gender of the author not mattering.-Saj

  • Larry says:

    You mean besides the original author? 😛

  • Anubis says:

    Reminds me of Luce Irigaray's question whether feminine voices can be heard in literature at all, and whether writing as a "space of (masculine) subjectivity" needs to be thoroughly subverted in order to be appropriated by women. Julia Kristeva tried to answer that question by pointing out that a kind of "écriture féminine" can be found in literature written by both women and men. Gorodischer's position seems to come close to Kristeva's approach, if I understand it right. I needed to know more about Gorodischer's idea of a "género del texto". It should be mentioned, by the way, that "género del texto" in Spanish can be translated as "genre of the text" as well as "gender of the text".

  • Larry says:

    Although I'm sadly not very familiar with Irigaray or Kristeva, what you say about the latter does resonate with the selections Gorodischer chooses to present from Latina feminists in her Mujeres de palabra. I'm only a quarter into the book at the moment, so it's hard to say for certain.I translated "género del texto" as "gender" because of what she went on to say about male/female writers, but I did toy with the idea of switching back and forth, since both connotations exist within the text.

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