Judith Fetterley reminds us of sexism in American fiction such as Rip Van Winkle and The Birthmark that seems to have portrayed the women characters powerless, and powerlessness was attributed to being female. We also see a struggle of power and ownership of women as a symbol of power in American Literature such as The Great Gatsby where possession of Daisy was important to both male characters. Fetterley states, “This demonstration, however, is not simply the result of a greater safety in directing anger at women than at men… It derives as well from the fact that even the poorest male gains something from a system in which all women are at some level his subjects,” suggesting that even “the most ‘powerless’ male” still has power. This perspective that American Fiction writes in, in turn, romanticizes the “tragic elements in women’s powerlessness” (xvi-xvii). Immasculation, Fetterley defines, “As readers and teachers and scholars, women are taught to think as men, to identify with a male point of view,” which has become a problem for women students. To me, resistant reading means reading through a lens that allows you to look past the cultural beliefs within the text and challenge them. I also think that resistant reading is important to critical theory in that it allows for change and multiple viewpoints, but it is also a result of being a feminist critic and having to “become a resisting reader rather than an assenting reader and, by this refusal to assent, to begin the process of exorcising the male mind that has been implanted in us,” according to Fetterly referring to
Lee Edwards’ article, “Women, Energy, and Middlemarch.” In conclusion Fetterley claims that literature is a political and male world where women readers get stuck in “its political and patriarchic systems,” and that politics in literature is an issue of power.
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