Part 1

Choose two texts and explain how one text could be read through the lens of womanism and the other could be read from a feminist perspective. Make sure you define womanism and feminism. For example, you might read Venus as a womanist text and or Nervous Conditions as feminist text. What would make Venus a womanist text and what would make Nervous Conditions a feminist text ?

Here are some novels to consider:

Susan Lori Parks: Venus
Toni Morrison: Sula
Edwidge Danticat: Breath Eyes Memory
Jamaica Kincaid: Lucy
Tsitsi Dangarembga: Nervous Conditions.

Part 2

Read bell hooks “Selling hot Pussy” and view the short video Painful Cake. Next, review some of Kara Walker’s artwork online. Look specifically at pictures that focus on the female body. How did you respond to her images? Do you find her pictures disturbing, engaging, revolting, etc. What kind of message does she attempt to impart? Also go on-line and view Sofia Maldanado’s Times Square Mural.

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While there are striking similarities between the terms “womanism” and “feminism,” there is a distinct element that distinguishes these two definitions: the element of race. First and second wave women who struggled against male domination and culturally-embedded patriarchal acceptance to establish a movement which embodied gender equality accomplished praise-worthy advancements for society as a whole to accept woman as humans and not lesser to males. These women claimed the term “feminist” to encompass womanhood as a whole to work together to disseminate and overcome male domination. While claiming this idea of a universal sisterhood to combat pervasive patriarchal norms seems progressive and inclusive, it in turn was actually quite marginalizing and subjugating depending upon which sister’s perspective was taken into consideration. Unfortunately, white women who pioneered the feminist movement had tendency to put their own experiences first and foremost and discount their “sisters’” less affluent and privileged experiences in order to push for achievement of their own agenda, one which did not account for Black women’s struggles. As a backlash against the white feminist movement came the “womanist” movement: a movement meant to distinguish itself from the feminist movement by taking into consideration the element of race, in addition to gender, and how these two factors interacted and comingled to create disparate experiences amongst the feminisms so-called “universal sisterhood.”...

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