One Is Not Born A Woman English Literature Essay Free Essay

A individual, short look that poses the cardinal feminist inquiry about sex difference is the undermentioned: Mamas babe, dad possibly. Biology has granted adult females a right to familial parentage that no adult male is privileged to portion. However, this look is capable to inversion in the text, The Color Purple, which I have chosen to discourse in the visible radiation of womanism instead than feminism because the former is more inclusive than the latter. Furthermore, the traditional construct of man- adult female relationship/ dependence physically and ideologically is put to severe blow by Monique Wittig ‘s construct of sapphism in her controversial yet most celebrated essay, “ One is non born a adult female. ” This paper aims to demo the bonding between Celie and Shug through the theories put frontward by Wittig. The significance of love, company and sexual pleasance finds an altered signifier in the chosen text and proves that adult female does non necessitate a adult male to finish her.

Keywords: intertextuality, womanism, black individuality


Monique Wittig is a well-known Gallic women’s rightist author. In 1992, The Straight Mind and Other Essays, a digest of essays on a assortment of feminist and sapphic issues, stormed the universe with its declaration of “ tribades ” as opposed to the class of “ adult female ” . The consequence was a book of nine essays in which she outlines her place on such issues as the class of sex, the heterosexism built-in in linguistic communication and the societal contract. It cajoles one to believe about one ‘s “ natural ” premises about gender and gender.

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Harmonizing to Wittig ‘s foreword, the first half of the aggregation is concerned with “ materialist sapphism ” in which she “ describes heterosexualism non as an establishment but as a political government which rests on the entry and the appropriation of adult females ( p. thirteen ) .

In “ One Is Not Born a Woman, ” one of the essays in the book that I have chosen to read, is an effort to set up a nexus between adult females contending for adult females as a category, against the thought of “ adult female ” as an essentialist construct. Wittig being a modern-day advocate of feminist and gay/lesbian rights, takes constructionist point of views of the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, that –

One is non born a adult female, but becomes a adult female. No biological, psychological, or economic destiny determines the figure that the human female nowadayss in society: it is civilisation as a whole that produces this animal, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine. ( p.1 )

The advantage of womanism as a theory is that it, unlike the feminist motion, brings to bear upon the adult female inquiry more than a white adult female ‘s position in its attempt at fring the society of sexual inequality ( Aldridge 127 ) . Womanism besides acknowledges the being of the male opposite number, seeing him as an equal victim with the adult female. However, it is pertinent to advert here that black adult females were exploited thrice in footings of – racism, sexism, and economic development though the womanists combat the inquiry of racism foremost before the gender issue. The accent varies from female- authorization to race-empowerment and Women ‘s Liberation Movement to Black Freedom Movement ( Aldridge 133, 135 ) . Toni Cade in her 1970 anthology The Black Woman elaborates:

“ [ aˆ¦ ] Over the old ages, things have kind of been cooled out. But I have yet to hear a nerveless analysis of merely what any peculiar group ‘s base is on the inquiry. Constantly, I hear from some fellow that Black adult females must be supportive and patient so that Black work forces can recover their manhood. The impression of muliebrity they argue – and merely if pressed to turn to themselves to the impression do they believe of it or argue- is dependent on his specifying his manhood ( Cade ) .

The classs of sex ( adult female and adult male ) basically appropriates that one holding capacity to give birth ( biologically ) is a “ adult female ” and that it is the lone originative act that determines her being and her individuality proclaiming her “ established ” bondage to adult male as “ master/ oppressor. ”

Wittig defines ‘woman ‘ in footings of her relationship with ‘man ‘ which takes the signifier of a “ forced abode ” , “ domestic corvee ” , “ connubial responsibilities ” , “ limitless production of kids ” etc. This applies to Celie, the supporter of Walker ‘s The Color Purple who contents herself with a purposeless life and is unmindful of the orgasmic pleasance until she meets Shug Avery. Basically the patriarchal society, as Wittig asserts, strengthens the signifier of subjugation through “ fanciful formation ” of physical characteristics. A black is perceived as a black, hence, s/he is a black ; likewise, a adult female is perceived or seen as a adult female, therefore she is a adult female. However, it is non because she is born that manner, but because she is made to be so.

Walker swept the universe with her petroleum yet realistic portraiture of strong adult females characters and every bit abhorrent work forces characters in her Pulitzer winning novel, The Color Purple. Her clarion call for Black Womanism had merely begun. She could non accept the thought of the White feminism talking for adult females of colour because she right witnessed the disaffection of the ‘black experience ‘ and farther marginalisation of texts by black women’s rightists in the mainstream academic tradition. Her political orientation of ‘womanism ‘ first appeared in her book In Search of Our Mothers ‘ Gardens: Womanist Prose ( 1983 ) , in which she attributes the word ‘s beginning to –

“ the black common people look of female parents to female kids, ‘You moving womanish, ‘ i.e. like a adult female aˆ¦ normally mentioning to hideous, brave, brave, or wilful behavior aˆ¦ [ A womanist is besides ] a adult female who loves other adult females sexually and/or nonsexually appreciates and prefers adult females ‘s civilization, adult females ‘s emotional flexibleness ( values cryings as natural counterweight of laughter ) , and adult females ‘s

strength. Sometimes loves single work forces, sexually and/or non-sexually. Committed to survival and integrity of full people, male and female. Not a separationist, except sporadically, for wellness. Traditionally universalistaˆ¦ Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the Moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and nutrient and rotundity. Loves battle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless. ” And “ Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender. ” ( p. xi-xii )

Feminism as a motion is entirely for adult females and has as its docket the renunciation of male hegemony. The significance of female “ denotes the sex that can bear offspring or bring forth eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes ( ova ) that can be fertilized by male gametes. ” Therefore, biological science can utilize the term ‘female ‘ instead than ‘girl ‘ and ‘woman ‘ . Femininity, on the other manus, is a group of traits that have culturally become associated with adult females, but they do non do a adult female. The patriarchy positions adult female as an uncomplete adult male, the 2nd sex, the other. But in declining to go a adult female does non connote that one adorns the function of a adult male since as Wittig puts it-

For going a adult male would demand from a adult female non merely a adult male ‘s external visual aspect but his consciousness as wellaˆ¦ one characteristic of sapphic subjugation consists exactly of doing adult females out of range for us, since adult females belong to work forces. Thus a tribade has to be something else, a not-woman, a not-man, a merchandise of society, non a merchandise of nature, for there is no nature in society. ( p.4 )

She elaborates her statement farther asseverating that-

The refusal to go ( or to stay ) heterosexual ever meant to decline to go a adult male or a adult female, consciously or non. For a sapphic this goes farther than the refusal of the function “ adult female. ” It is the refusal of the economic, ideological, and political power of adult male. ( p.4 )

The term “ gender ” was coined by Greek philosopher, Protagoras. Grecian nouns were divided into three different categories which attributed its being to a word significance ‘class ‘ or ‘kind’- ‘masculine ‘ , ‘feminine ‘ , and ‘neuter ‘ ( Cameron, p.89 ) . The ‘masculine ‘ , Jakob Grimm, a German philologue explained, ‘means the earlier, larger, firmer, more inflexible, fleet, active, nomadic, productive ; the feminine the later, smaller, smoother, the more still, enduring, receptive ‘ ( Cameron, p.92 ) . However, the class of ‘woman ‘ is neither biological nor grammatical. It is a cultural concept.

Womanism, on the other manus, considers the society as a corporate whole and acknowledges the inter-linked destiny of the black adult females with their work forces in the community. Rather than back uping segregation, Womanism promotes “ universalism ” . Womanism, like Black Feminism, provides a infinite for Black adult females and adult females of colour to make

duologue in a non-dominative and a non-threatening environment. Womanism is non a new thought by any agencies ; in fact there is grounds of its beginnings in the sacred texts of antediluvian Africa, particularly the Husia of Egypt and the Odu Ifa of ancient Yorubaland. Concepts from the Husia such as the Divine inclusiveness of male and female rules, adult female and adult male as the image of God and the construct of human customarily written with male and female characters in hieroglyphs indicate the belief that adult female and adult male were equal by nature and divinely and must run as such ( Karenga 324 ) .

Wittig therefore, busts the “ myth of adult female ” ( created by work forces ) by oppugning and holding to Beauvoir, that the construct of “ adult female is fantastic ” , underscoring adult females holding the best of characteristics is a judgement work forces have compartmentalized harmonizing to their ain perceptual experience. To salvage one ego being entrapped in such a horizon is the purpose of the lesbian- women’s rightists who strive for a neuter society. In this light so the concerns of feminism excessively is subjected to scrutiny. Feminism contains the word “ femme ” intending adult female, contending for adult females as a category or, the remotion of this “ category. ” If it is so, so the motion took precedency from the credence of the impression that adult females shared common characteristics as a consequence of subjugation ; “ But for them these characteristics were natural and biological instead than societal. ”

Wittig takes upon her the daunting undertaking of set uping the thought of tribades as opposed to the category of woman/man in materialist footings. It does non connote that work forces as species should be led to extinction but to stamp down work forces as a “ category ‘ through political battle. Once this class of category disappears, says Wittig, the natural and historical division between adult male and adult female excessively will disappear, for “ there are no slaves without Masterss. ”

The political formation of category can be traced back to the political orientation of Marxism which states persons to be merchandise of society, and that merely their consciousness can be alienated non the single herself/ himself until the category that dominates ceases to bring forth the thoughts itself that alienates them from the category that they oppress. For case in order to accomplish a sexless society, the seeable division between the businessperson and the labor has to be removed foremost and so merely can at that place be “ no-man ” and “ no-woman ” , but all worlds society. As Wittig puts-

This existent necessity for everyone to be as an person, every bit good as a member of a category, is possibly the first status for the achievement of a revolution, without which there can be no existent battle or transmutation. But the antonym is besides true ; without category and category consciousness there are no existent topics, merely anomic persons. ( p.10 )

Therefore, sapphism is the lone construct that provides for a opportunity to make such a societal signifier where world can populate freely. Celie ‘s realisation of herself as a adult female capable of populating independently without the necessity of a adult male in her life, springs from the unconditioned love she receives from Shug Avery, another adult female for The Color Purple establishes itself as a narrative of adult females by a adult female. It moves off from the classs of adult female and adult male because a sapphic is neither a adult male nor a adult female, “ either economically, or politically, or ideologically. ” Here, Wittig ‘s text offers some positive parts to feminist and thwart theory, in peculiar her deconstruction of the term “ adult female ” and her focal point on the power of linguistic communication. As she clarifies-

There is no possible battle for person deprived of an individuality, no internal motive for combat, since, although I can contend merely with others, foremost I fight for myself. ( p.7 )

In the The Color Purple the adult females are double marginalized, foremost as a black, seen as ‘the other ‘ by the white, and, secondly, as a subsidiary group by the work forces. Celie is so used to the subjugation by the work forces around her that when her step- boy Harpo complains of his married woman ‘s noncompliance to him, she advises him to crush her: an option for her does non be. Nettie, on the other manus, refuses to give in to the caprices and illusions of the male order. She battles and carves an individuality and life for her with her matrimony to Samuel, a missional. It is Shug Avery, a Blues vocalist, who reveals to Celie the value of independency and the averment of a adult female ‘s individuality. Through the conversations and the relationship therefore enforced between Shug and Celie, one can happen clinching grounds of ‘subversive textuality ‘ wherein the traditional text is undermined and hetereosexuality is challenged. The realisation brings about a metabolism in Celie. She forgives the work forces in her life who viewed her as nil more than a “ mule of the universe. ” She emerges like the autobiographical Walker as a butterfly whose ferociously strong self-control makes the society and universe at big celebrate her individuality and individualism. As Toni Morrison maintains in Beloved, “ Definitions belong to the definers non the defined. Self naming and ego shaping is important. ” ( Morrison 1987 ) . So excessively, womanists like Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Patricia Hills Collins, Clenora Hudson- Weems assert magisterially their political individuality to the universe, amidst the frequent conflation with the Black Feminists.

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