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Once we were feminists

By Phillip Hickox - posted Monday, 24 January 2022

Professor Janice Fiamengo said, that she didn't become interested in feminist ideology until she started graduate school to do her Masters degree:

It did attract me, it tells you that there is a massive injustice that you are not responsible. Heady stuff, for young people. It was so dam attractive it was exhilarating.

I believed it because it must be so and every one else believed it.

I had been taught to read everything from through a feminist or at least gynocentric lens so it's always about you look at the women characters

Female characters were interpreted as having limited options, that they were struggling as they were hemmed. The struggling female character was seen as being heroic as she worked to overcome the various limitations that denied her life possibilities?


In contrast she was taught to view the male characters through a feminist stereotypical lens as to one of being privileged and patriarchial is this man privileged?

Authors of literature were viewed as either fighting against the patriarchal narrative or in someway as being complicit in strengthening and promulgating the patriarchal narrative. is this male character and his assumptions about women inform his attitudes and his actions andhow is the author either resisting (you) know,patriarchal narratives or in some way complicit with them and strengthening them and and promulgating them maybe. That was the whole way that literature was viewed and taught……

Professor Fiamengo gives an example of how basic facts were kept hidden for her;

...feminism and who the women's movement in the 19th century struggle for the vote was a big part of it the strategies that various women writers used to articulate the the right of women to have the vote and to be more involved in their society nobody ever said to me you know men did not all have the right to vote at the period you're talking about this is a basic fact of history never encountered

There were basic facts that were hidden from me.


Professor Fiamengo gradually begins to have an epiphany, that she describes to be like a shimmering, where it started to feel wrong.

It wasn't until I started teaching, that was when everything started shimmering like a mirage. It just started to feel wrong to stand up there in a class Taught to read everything through this gynocentric lens.

Her teaching experiences started to alter her perceptions and that she became aware of the paradoxes;

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About the Author

Phillip Hickox is a retired critical care nurse.

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