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Accessibility in feminist literature

sschurtz's picture

Last week we talked about accessibility in regards to literature and if books should be less accessible to be effective. I think that it’s interesting to compare Persepolis with The Doll's House in this regard. For Persepolis I watched the movie and read the book and I found it very accessible in both formats. When I read The Doll's House, it wasn’t until class when we discussed it that I began to understand some of the deeper meaning.  I’m not sure if I agree that feminist literature should be less accessible. I think that it has to have meaning below the surface and it should not be dumbed down but it’s also important that it can reach people. I believe both are feminist works but I’m not sure if having one be less accessible makes it more of a feminist work.  Are there negatives to having a piece of work be too accessible?  Does it somehow make it less powerful? Is accessibility a feminist value? 


Serendip Visitor's picture

Elitism and feminism

" I’m not sure if I agree that feminist literature should be less accessible."
What a very interesting statement, one I think worth examining.

Some feminisms seem to agree strongly that less accessibility is somehow an asset or evidence of value or deepness. But isn't this essentially just rationalization for elitism? Doesn't that lead to a vision or practice of a feminist elite somehow empower to discern and make choices for the non-enlightened? Does that essentially negate choice and self direction for the non-elite?

Other feminisms refuse to adopt elitism, seeing in it the patronizing and essential patriarchal social control patterns which they reject.

Thank you for provoking my thoughts, hope this inspires some worthwhile questions for you.

sschurtz's picture

Re: Elitism and feminism

First off I wanted to say thank you for your response to the post. I realize this is a late response, I was not sure what I wanted to write and in honor of crip time I wanted to wait until I had something that I felt was truthful about what I believed. I agree that by making feminist literature less accessible it breeds elitism. If feminism is about choice and the belief that women are not the other than making it less accessible seems to be an issue. There are times when I’ve talked to people when I’ve had to simplify and make the theories more concise to get people to consider them. If I handed them a complex essay on theory they may be less inclined to actually understand it and that is a detriment to feminism. It is not that feminist literature cannot be accessible but it’s that it doesn’t make it any less feminist if it is accessible.  Over the time that I posted my view and reading your response I do think that feminist literature should be more accessible. The pros outweigh the cons in this case. I was having a hard time figuring out the balance but I feel having feminist literature be this way allows others to participate in the discussion and gain more viewpoints. At the time of my post we had read Persepolis, which I view to be an extremely accessible work of feminist literature and since then I have read other pieces that are not as much. I enjoyed these works but I also had the help of a class and serendip to help understand the meaning. It is not that making a piece of feminist literature less accessible makes it less of a feminist work but I don’t think that it is one of the tenants of feminism. Again thank you for your response and it has helped me figure out this aspect to feminism that I was having great difficulty with.

ccassidy's picture

accessibility as the reader

I think this is an interesting point.  It seems like Marjane's story is so much more accessible because it is all based on history and a personal narrative.  However, The Doll's House is a fictional tale that relies heavily on fantasy.  If The Doll's House was just told without the fantastical aspect of the dream world, would it still have the same impact? I think it was definitely a challenge to discover the feminist tones to The Doll's House; however, it seems that the fantasy added a layer of complexity that made the message more interesting.  I think these two formats showed us that a significant message is delivered no matter how the accessible the text appears to be.  An author might try and make a story more accessible but it is really up to the reader to determine how accessible it is to them because everyone will have their own personal connection and interpretation.

Taylor11's picture

power and feminism

As we have learned in class there are many different kinds of feminist and each one comes with its own defination and guidelines.  So it very difficult to draw a line between what is feminst and what is not.  So I feel that it is impossible to decide if accessiblity is more feminsit or not because there is no one clear understanding of what feminsim is.  Personally,I feel that just because something is more accessible doesn't make it less powerful. I feel that some accessiblity is important because if no one understands what you are trying to say or prove how will you gain a following.  Now does that make me less of a femeinst I don't know but since there are so many different kinds of feminist I probably fit in somewhere.