Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Al Franken The Feminist

He's a good guy. He recently gave an interview about his feminist beliefs which had this bit:

CA: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?

AF: First, let me say I was shocked at how difficult it was to come up with a good fictional feminist. I'm a reader, I didn't think this would be tricky. I asked my wife and my daughter, male and female members of my staff (which includes a couple literature majors), I asked friends of all ages. And it was hard! Do you pick Anna Karenina or does the ending ruin her feminist credentials? What about Simone de Beauvoir's fictional alter ego - is that really fiction? Do you want to count Hester Prynne? Is Xena really the best we can do? Eventually I decided to go with Jo March from Little Women. Or Ripley from Aliens. The point is this genre is sadly lacking. The feminist heroines who inspire us tend to be real-life women, which is wonderful. But shouldn't some writers out there seek to fill this void? Let's see what a feminist heroine can do when they're not confined to non-fiction format. I'd read it.

A fun question that. Who IS your favorite fictional feminist? Though the interviewer didn't ask him quite that question, it's a good one.

Fantasy teems with fictional feminists, though most of them live in a world where they don't meet much resistance. Not sure if they count for that reason. Then there's Buffy. Sure, these are super-heroes but so are the men in the corresponding genres.

I would be satisfied with a female heroine who is a full human being. No need for her to have superhuman powers (though they can be OK, too). But she should be three-dimensional.

On Jo Marsh: She begins as a feminist. What she ends up as is harder to determine, because she becomes a background figure in the later books. I think Alcott tried to make her into a compromise between the Angel In The House of the Victorian era and the Modern Woman of those days. She is a bit of each.

I like her but I'd have to say that she did not achieve what she was capable of.

There are strong female characters in many of the classics but I'm not sure if that's enough to qualify as a feminist character. For more ideas, check here.