“Women and style. For a “feminist gaze””, by Azélie Fayolle, Divergences, 214 p., €16.
Although literary history and school curricula are still struggling to give them their full place, not only “women write, and are (sometimes) read”but readers are also mostly female readers. However, it is not just any feminine writing that Azélie Fayolle, literature researcher at the Free University of Brussels, is interested in women and style. Refusing this essentialism, the author rather seeks to identify the characteristics of a “feminist writing”that is to say, writing which, sometimes without being directly political, remains committed to a movement for the emancipation of women.
Writing as a feminist is also and above all finding a third way, between desiring objectification and misogynistic aversion.
It is by having Christine de Pizan (circa 1364-1430) and Virginie Despentes, the Saint-Simonians and Annie Ernaux respond to each other that she discerns this “feminist style that innervates literature”through the way consciousness “of the arbitrariness of domination” of men on women shapes their texts. And, from the novels of Monique Wittig (1935-2003) or Marcia Burnier to the theoretical texts of Christine Delphy or Audre Lorde (1934-1992), passing through the poetry of Miel Pagès, then reveals what the author name it « feminist gauze this feminist “look” or “point of view” which deepens the “female gaze” – or “feminine gaze” – theorized by Iris Brey in The female gaze. A revolution on screen (L’Olivier, 2020).
Of course, writing as a feminist means representing, designating, even denouncing patriarchal oppression. But it is also and above all to carry a vision of the world, to find a third way, between desiring objectification and misogynistic aversion, to write the body of women, to refuse the eroticization of violence, to impose daily or usually sordid realities passed over in silence, to invent a new grammar of eroticism.
Beyond the “masculine order”
To explore these ambitions in all their scope and the diversity of their implementations – from realism to the fantastic and the horrific –, Azélie Fayolle relies in particular on the “theory of basket fiction” thought up by Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018), which proposes to describe an alternative model to the eternally organized fiction around a hero and the conflict that it is up to him to resolve. Or on the historical and linguistic work undertaken by Eliane Viennot to think of a French language beyond“male order”. Because “it is styles and aesthetics crafted against male dominance, representing the social experience of female class membership, that make the feminist gauze – and the feminist style”.
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