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Lecture 4

Lecture Four: The Bitch/The Jerk

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ANTH 3240
Allyson Mitchell

Lecture Four: The Bitch/Jerk September 28, 2011 What is Feminism? My feminism is a political analysis and practice that I use to fight against oppression and privilege. This definition can be different for everyone, there is no specific and concrete definition. Motivations for the Bitch Character There are differences for why characters are “bitches” in literature written by males, and literature written by females. - In male writing, there is often no explanation for why someone is a bitch (it is a given fact) - In female writing, the bitch is often motivated by something (“devious self- centered gains, combined with, in some cases a distinct lack of self-worth”) The “bitch” has become a stereotype in mass media and is has become a predictable character “Recipe” for the Bitch (in Literature, Media) She is usually the antithesis of the heroine. Typically a secondary character (a sister, mother, friend ect) Literary Canon - term used to refer to a group of literature that is considered to be the most important of a particular time and place. - Most likely, these are white, male authors. - Where are the other voices? - Who determines which of the authors are considered to be the canon? Types of Bitches The Childhood Bitch These are not necessarily children, but “bitches” from stories and fairytales that children will read. Contemporary fairytales are modified versions of originals. The original stories are more physically violent, while the modern ones are more sexualized. Lessons learnt from this bitch - do not aspire for autonomy (free will, liberation, independence) - beware of all powerful women, especially ones older than adolescents - be the “good girl” - do not be over-sexualized - do not try and channel a male role - avoid at all costs the fate of the old spinster (living alone, unmarried, no children. Believed to be miserable). Autonomy - the morality of individual self-rule, politics of self-definity, knowledge achieved by individual reason. Free from ruling powers of religion, government, parents, the rich, corporations, the patriarchy The Terrible Mother Although she may be adequate in all other aspects of life (attractive, successful, athletic, healthy), she is believed to be a bad person or inadequate woman because she has not embraced motherhood in the way that she is expected to. Childless Bitch A woman who has rejected motherhood. By avoiding this they are believed to be unsuccessful careerists, at least until they find a mate and begin having children. Slut Bitch A woman who is considered to be overly sexual, and therefore does not conform with societal expectations that women should be more modest. This may refer to any woman who is sexually empowered, or who is comfortable with their sexuality. It is not just about someone who dresses a certain way, or acts in a certain way. Witch Bitch This usually has an ambiguous connotation in literature. - The evil destroyers, malicious, manipulative witch intent on causing harm - The “mystical” witches; such as medicine women (intelligent, lots of knowledge) Why these women are considered bitches They do not follow the traditional female roles of society - the idea that all women should be good mothers and bear children - the idea that women should be married and faithful - they have knowledge that typically men have (considered to be dangerous or threats) “Women authors tend to depict ‘fallen’ women not as evil manipulators... but as victims of a patriarch that places value on women’s sexuality but little value on the woman herself..” A
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