Monkey's Potted History of Feminism

-In the beginning women knew their place. "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man." (Gen. 2:21-22) Notice that the LORD God made woman from a rib, the lowliest of all the bones.

-For years there is peace.

-In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft invents feminism in ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in order to give middle class women something to do while the men worry about the French Revolution.

-During the Victorian period there exists a wonderful sense of decorum. Society bathes pure in the waters of repressed female sexuality (which doesn’t exist). The greatest poetic work in English, Coventry Patmore’s ‘Angel in the House’, is published to much acclaim.

-The early twentieth century sees an inordinate rise in the vices of violence and wilfulness among the female population. The suffragette movement, led by women who are not above interrupting national sporting events to spread their wrongheaded propaganda, sing songs and fail to find husbands.

-Virginia Woolf publishes ‘A Room of One’s Own’ in 1928 in which she argues that Shakespeare had a sister called Judith who, although brought up in exactly the same circumstances as the bard, could not match his literary output, thus proving that the female gender is essentially incapabable of writing. The book is widely misunderstood.

-Women work as men go off to fight the Germans during the second world war. Men complain of "shoddy workmanship".

-Jean-Paul Sartre’s mistress, Simone de Beauvoir, infects Britain with strange foreign ideas in 1949 with ‘The Second Sex’. "One is not born a woman, one becomes one." Well, ‘one’ does if ‘one’ knows what is good for ‘one’.

-Large scale nude hippie gatherings in the late sixties convince many young women that "We’re all the same underneath", as they fail to notice both genitals and breasts.

-In the 1970s works such as ‘The Female Eunuch’ by Germaine Greer and Kate Millett’s ‘Sexual Politics’ turn large numbers of women into trousered, short-haired lesbians. They also fail to find husbands. Men are intrigued by the breasts on the cover of Greer’s book.

-Californian academics begin an assault on all that is sacred. Juliet Mitchell, in ‘Psychoanalysis and Feminism’, argues that Freud’s analysis of women was an account of a particular culture. Freud pats her on the head. Dale Spender, in ‘Man made language’, argues that words themselves act to subjugate and marginalise women. We’ll have to see what the man in the street thinks about that. Gilbar and Gubert, in ‘The Madwoman in the Attic’ ask "Is the pen a metaphorical penis?", displaying an erotic hunger that is at once both arresting and arousing. One English professor in Sydney, Australia notes that "I haven’t read the book so I couldn’t possibly comment".

-In Europe writers such as Helene Cixous and Luce Irigary write confusing tracts and bizarre, irrational sentences. Julia Kristeva uses words like ‘phallogocentric’ as if they actually mean something. Jacques Derrida is born.

-Fissures and schisms emerge in the structure of feminism and various feminists tussle like mud-wrestling strippers. Should feminists ally their cause with Marxism? Should feminism use an image of an essential ‘woman’ or admit the provisionality of gender identity? Does a unified feminist politics necessarily occlude the struggles of other marginalised groups such as black women and lesbians? Should women wear white after Labour Day?

-The eighties and nineties see profusion of different theories of femininity. Mary Daly in ‘Gyn/Ecology’ proposes a new feminist theology, involving weaving and knitting. Witches start using feminine beauty products to remove their warts and wear sexy black dresses. Donna Harraway, in ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ writes that women are like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

-Germaine Greer appears on ‘Late Review’.

-Richard and Judy have a ‘Feminism Special’.

-The present day.

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