I know that, in the past fortnight, a lot of people have read Clementine Ford’s article at dailylife.com.au about the cultural sanctions on women’s sexual and reproductive freedom. The commentary about that article, along with other discussions centring on recent, primarily American, attacks on women’s reproductive rights, is proof enough that this is an area that deserves further cultural examination—one that shouldn’t be hidden or silenced.
This article was significant to me not only for its position on feminism, but also because it came less than a week after I taught a class of 2nd-year creative writing students about patriarchy. I told the class what Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar meant by the Angel in the House and the monstrous feminine. I told them that Gilbert and Gubar were writing specifically about literary representations of women in the nineteenth century. I told them about the selflessness of the angel. I told them about the demonization of women’s sexual behaviour. I used examples from James Bond: Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye. I told them about Laura Mulvey and the theory of the male gaze and how the advent of moving pictures resulted in a certain kind of psychoanalytic approach to film theory to try to account for how exactly filmic images of women serve to objectify them sexually. Continue reading