Women Empowerment through Gynocentric Literature
By Samra Taban

For centuries, the literary world was consumed by the opinions and creative domination of men and only men. Several literary pieces written by the some of the most accomplished writers in history subdued women and spoke about them in a manner that was comprehensive to them, thus creating tremendous misinterpretations about the various nuances of being a woman. Especially in the 18th and 19th century, literature blatantly favoured patriarchal individuality. Several post-revolutionary male writers chose to redefine patriarchy and, in this effort, they ignored the opinions and perspectives of women. In fact, until the 19th century, women were not even allowed to write publicly. Very few female writers like Jane Anger, Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich radically emerged as rebels in an outrageously male chauvinistic world.

In English literature of the earlier centuries, women are often considered as dormant and submissive characters controlled and intimidated by patriarchal powers of the society. They had designated roles to play. These roles were restricted to the circumferences of family and children. Gynocentrism is a dominant focus on how women resorted to writing about themselves to create their definition of their gender instead of having men doing it for them. More women began to write on topics that seemed to be a much-needed revelation of reality. It is a complete disclosure of female consciousness, beliefs, culture, human rights, sexuality and reproduction. It applauds the sexual difference and portrays femininity in a positive light as opposed to the androcentric productions that labelled women as a secondary sex- weak, submissive and deficient. They wrote about bold topics like lesbianism and exploring their sexuality. Lord Audrey, Adrienne Rich and Maureen Duffy are some of major writers whose work showed a glaring perspective about lesbian experiences. Surviving in a man’s world was challenging for these writers and emerging as literary intellectuals was a painful journey to endure. Early female writers were forced to make use of the masculine tongue in their work. Intimated by the female voice, men attacked their work and labelled them as ‘unsuitable’. Their voice began to have an impact which threatened their stand in the literary ecosphere.

Elaine Showalter was one of the very first feminist writers who critically scrutinized androcentric literature. She gave rise to the term ‘Gynocritics’ in ‘Towards a Feminist Poetics’ in the year 1986. The main objective of Gynocentrism is to build a female framework for the analysis of literature while focusing on female subjectivity, female language and female literary career. Gynocentrism began with the end of women aligning themselves as per male perspectives. Instead, they built a space where they could focus on themselves as per their women culture. Women empowered themselves through Gynocentrism. It breaks stereotypes about women constructively by responding to questions about women with relevant answers by women. It stands for the freedom of women, to express themselves beyond the ugly facades of caste, creed and sex. It also exposes misrepresentation, literary abuse and textual harassment of women in literature.

Till date, Gynocentrism faces severe criticism as women continue to write about their experiences whilst rejecting any and all kinds of male oppressions, explicitly stating that gender is an idea constructed culturally. Women deserve to be heard and understand for who they are without having to be shadowed by masculine perspectives. Gynocentrism deserves applause for breaking the walls of patriarchy and creating a space of limitless freedom for women; empowering them and urging them to speak out.

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