feminist writing


feminist writing
   Feminist writing in Spain can be divided into three categories in order of importance: socio-historical studies; creative literature; and theoretical studies. Since the 1970s there has been a concerted effort (mainly on the part of women journalists and academics) to study the situation of women in Spain and to chart Spanish women's history (including the history of feminism). Interest has focused predominantly on the current social status of women, examined from diverse points of view (economic, political, cultural, demographic and educational) with special emphasis on the legal position of women and equal opportunities in the work place. These sociological studies are generally fully documented and rigorous in their analyses. Historical studies are not so plentiful, although there is growing interest among researchers, particularly with reference to women's work, education, demography, art and politics during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Mary Nash (1983) is typical in this respect. Leading researchers in the field of sociological and historical studies, including Carmen Alcalde, Concepción Borre-guero, María Campo Alange, Rosa María Capel Martínez, and María Angeles Durán, often work in collaboration with the Women's Studies Centres set up in the Universities of Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastián among others. Further interest has been fomented by numerous conferences and seminar series such as the Jornadas Interdisciplinarias (Interdisciplinary Conferences) organized by the Autonomous and Complutense Universities in Madrid and the Spanish Association of Research into Women's History, presided over by Mary Nash. The Documentation Centre at the Instituto de la Mujer, established in 1983, is invaluable and the Institute also makes funding available for publications, conferences and similar events. In addition to the above, recent editions of the virtually unknown works of early feminists (for example, Concepción Arenal, Clara Campoamor and Margarita Nelken) are being published in increasing numbers. Several bibliographical studies, essential tools of research, have appeared since 1980. An impressive example is María del Carmen Simon Palmer's research on nineteenthcentury Spanish women writers who, she discovered, published widely on all subjects, from medicine to poetry. A sizeable bibliography of social and historical studies now exists covering all aspects of women's lives in Spain. The popular texts of the 1970s and early 1980s which traced the development of the feminist movement in Spain and elsewhere (authored by, for example, Maria Aurèlia Capmany, Anabel González, Anna Mercade, Magda Oranich and Montserrat Roig) have given way to more theoretically oriented studies of feminism, gender and sexuality. Spanish feminist thinkers have developed interesting new directions in feminist theory and are fully briefed in important debates abroad thanks to the plethora of translations of foreign feminist texts published in, for example, Cátedra's "Feminisms" Collection in collaboration with the Instituto de la Mujer. Perhaps the most prominent feminist writer since the 1970s has been the militant feminist Lidia Falcón whose theory of feminism as a political instrument to vindicate women as a social class is expounded in several works. The philosopher Celia Amorós (1985) writes on feminism and ethics. In her later work she traces a feminist philosophical memory in seventeenthcentury Enlightenment thought. Similarly, the philosopher Alicia Puleo (1992) inserts the themes of gender and sex in discussions on contemporary philosophy. Victoria Sau (1986) proposes a "matristic" model in which binaries (love/war, nature/ culture) are annulled in a femino-centric synthesis. Radical feminist Victoria Sendón de León (1981) develops the ideas of Luce Irigaray and defends the concept of an uncompromising Ginandria which is neither an Androginia nor feminism but the rejection of the pretence of integration.
   Concurrent with these factual and theoretical studies exists a substantial corpus of feminist fiction which has blossomed since the 1970s. The long but somewhat sporadic tradition of female-authored feminist fiction (particularly short fiction) which, following the fortunes of the feminist movement, flourished in the 1920s and 1930s (in the work of Carmen de Burgos, Margarita Nelken, Eva Carmen Nelken and Federica Montseny) but almost disappeared in the 1940s and 1950s, re-emerged with a vengeance after Franco's death. The early post-Franco fiction of authors such as Rosa Montero, Montserrat Roig, Carme Riera and María Xosé Queizán examines contemporary feminist topics such as divorce, abortion, double militancy (see also feminism) and relationships between women usually within the framework of individual women's experiences and lifestories, set in the present or the past. In much of the fiction published by feminist authors after 1980 emphasis is placed on women as subjects of (erotic) desire and female sexuality, thus giving rise to an important current of femaleauthored erotic fiction describing heterosexual or lesbian relationships. Important in this respect is the novelist Esther Tusquets. Spanish women writers, however, have not been keen to be labelled feminists and few (if any) would describe their work as exclusively feminist. As is the case in the other disciplines mentioned above, the unjustly neglected work of feminist novelists, poets and dramatists of the past is now being brought to light and published in modern editions, in collections such as Castalia's "Women Writers" Series produced in collaboration with the Instituto de la Mujer.
   References
   - Amorós, C. (1985) Hacia una crítica de la razón patriarcal, Barcelona: Anthropos.
   - Nash, M. (1983) Mujer, familia y trabajo en España 1875-1936, Barcelona: Anthropos.
   - Puleo, A.H. (1992) Dialéctica de la sexualidad, Madrid: Cátedra/Instituto de la Mujer.
   - Sau, V. (1986) Aportaciones para una lógica del feminismo, Barcelona: La Sal.
   - Sendón de León, V. (1981) Sobre diosas, Amazonas y vestales: utopías para un feminismo radical, Madrid: Zero ZXY.
   Further reading
   - Aguado, A., Capel, R. and Glez, T. et al. (eds) (1994) Textos para la historia de las mujeres en España, Madrid: Cátedra (includes a substantial section on the twentieth century).
   - Capel Martínez, R. (ed.) ([1982] 1986), Mujer y sociedad en España 1700-1975, Madrid: Instituto de la Mujer.
   - Davies, C. (1991) Contemporary Feminist Fiction in Spain. The Work of Montserrat Roig and Rosa Montero, Oxford: Berg.
   —— (1998) Spanish Women's Writing 1849-1996, London: Athlone.
   - Folguera, P. (ed.) (1988) El feminismo en España. Dos siglos de historia, Madrid: Editorial Pablo Iglesias.
   CATHERINE DAVIES

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.