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Women's Writing: A Struggle Through The Ages

2193 words - 9 pages

Throughout history, women have been immersed in an ongoing struggle against the dominance of the patriarchal, male oriented power structure present in society. The differences that exist between men and women, have, among other things, manifested themselves in literature. Firstly, while women have been writers in the past, it has been men who have indirectly controlled what women write as gatekeepers to their reputations and to the industry of which they wish to become a part. However, the progression of Canadian women's writers throughout history is now highly evident within society. Lastly, it can be deduced that Canadian women's writers have finally succeeded in their struggle to find a voice in society and that they no longer face the same degree of oppression they were met with in the not so distant past. Truly, women writers have been able to overcome the obstacles facing them in the past, and have developed their own unique voice and style of writing within Canadian society.While women have been writers in the past, it has been men who have indirectly controlled what women write as gatekeepers to their reputations, and to the industry of which they wish to become a part. Women struggled to make their mark as essayists, historians, or poets, and were latecomers to the literary scene, as they were to education. By the time they were engaged in the process of creating their own literary works, all older forms of literature were established and set in their ways. The novel, however, being a comparatively recent genre, was young enough for women to engage in, opening the doors for many women writers to become involved in other forms of written work as well. (Toller, 1999) A major challenge to women's writing in the past had been the attitude of their readers and critics, which was a direct reflection of the societies in which they lived and for whom they wrote. Critics who reviewed women's work in the past treated women writers as outcasts. Literary critics, mostly men, "ignored the dynamic vitality in women's writing and treated it as recreational and decorative." (Toller, 1999) One label that was easily attributed to women's work was that "they 'only spoke about women' and were often perceived as 'feminist' and hence disrupting the established family structure and peace at home. The most unacceptable women writers were those who questioned every aspect of social order. The pillars of the community - marriage, motherhood, control of sexuality and traditions must be preserved for the interests of preserving the culture." (Toller, 1999) Many sexist remarks were directed towards women who ventured to write about women's sexuality and their bodies. Readers and critics treat similar literature from men and women writers very differently. In the past, it was extremely difficult for women writers to get published, "...with a woman's book receiving the same treatment as her, that is, being ignored." (Stevens, 1975)Traditionally, there was very little...

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