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Is an Autobiography a feminist genre?

Taylor11's picture

When asked the question "is an autobiography a feminist genre" I struggled to find an answer.  I struggled because I am unsure of what exactly feminism is and what criteria has to be meant in order to make something feminism or not.  In examining whether or not Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is feministic, my first thought was yes it is because it is based on a woman's life and is told by a woman but I knew right away that was to simply of a thought.  It is simply because not all women consider themselves feminist and not all women write with the intent to spread feminist ideas.  So I stepped away from that quick answer and I came to the realization that I had truly no idea.  So when we did that exercise in class when you had to choose a side I thought that would help me come up with a final decision but I was wrong.  I found myself agreeing with both sides and even more unsure then I was before.  So I think my overall struggle in finding an answer to this question stems from the fact I don't really know what feminism is...    



Elizabeth's picture

I think my struggle with

I think my struggle with trying to label autobiography as a feminist genre or not stems from the fact that I don't really know what a feminist genre is. Does one exist? A lot of us have been bringing up the point that autobiographical printed works are dominated by people with a lot of privilege, and I think Sam summarized that point really well. But, I have a lot of trouble finding a medium that isn't like that. When my group was talking on Thursday, we decided that, a la Toni Morrison, not every medium has to be totally accessible to be feminist--not being accessible to every possible reader, viewer, listener, etc. could be just fine and even make a work more feminist. But, even working under that framework, there's still the matter of the exclusion of the storyteller from the genre. I think that those who do manage to break into the world of autobiography can tell really feminist stories. But, while I think that those individual autobiographies can be feminist, I don't think that the genre is, since it since it excludes the very people who are trying to tell their personal stories--making a work more accessible to a group of marginalized people at the expense of the accessibility of the privileged is one thing, limiting the accessibility of those marginalized people to telling autobiography is another. However, I wonder what an example of a feminist genre would look like, given that huge burden of accessibility that I've just placed on it.