I was torn between talking about Mina Loy’s work or Hardy’s work. I contemplated talking about both in this blog post, but I honestly felt as though it would not do either of them justice. In other words, I’m going to talk about Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” because, hot damn, I’ve never been in such passionate agreement with British literature before. There is so much to talk about with this manifesto, but I’m only going to talk about some of it.
I found the start to her manifesto quite interesting. “The feminist movement as at present instituted is Inadequate” I posed the question of “Will it ever be adequate?” Even today, in 2020, over a hundred years after “Feminist Manifesto” was published, I still don’t feel as though the feminist movement is adequate. We’ve certainly made progress but is the movement adequate? Certain ideals in this manifesto have definitely made their way into some people’s thinking – the realization that virginity is a concept (but it’s still important to us?), that gender is more than feminine or masculine, and that women are more than objects to be used by men. However, women are still “below” men in the workplace. They aren’t taken seriously by authorities when they try to get help (granted, in some cases men aren’t either- so that could also just be an authority problem). They are still fighting, but are they fighting hard enough?
If the movement really is “inadequate,” as Loy presents, then what would be an “adequate” movement? We never did truly demolish the “rubbish heap of tradition” because people still abide by it and it’s still ingrained in society on a deep level. “Virginity,” “Virtue,” and “Purity” are still talked about as if they matter when we talk about hard topics such as sexual assault. What matters isn’t meaningless concepts that need to be done away with but, rather, how we can help each other. In other words, what do people who are trying to get their voices heard need? We constantly hammer out speeches about men and women being equals, but, as Loy pointed out, why are we still reaching to be on the same level as men? Why are we placing men so much higher than us in the first place? Perhaps “Absolute Demolition” is truly the only way to get to where we need to be.
“The value of man is assessed entirely according to his use or interest to the community, the value of a woman, depends entirely on chance, her success or insuccess in manoeuvring a man into taking the life-long responsibility of her- the advantages of marriage of too ridiculously ample- compared to all other trades” I want to mention there is a whole slew of problems with equating human beings to how much work they can put forth. People are not machines created to become cogs- we are beings with emotions, desires, and needs. While a woman can get a job and (barely, kind of?) support herself today, it is still- half the time- easier to marry rich. Even today, if someone is beautiful and finds a man with a lot of money, people applaud her and make comments about how she’s “oh-so-lucky” because now she doesn’t need to worry. Marriage is still a ridiculously easy way to secure an income. The fact that Loy compares marriage to a trade rather than an act of love is so, so telling about the state that marriage was -and still is- in. This one line proves how much our societal views of humans are messed up, that “Absolute Demolition” is the only way. It’s not just feminism that needs to be completely destroyed and rebuilt, it’s the entire view of gender and sex that does.
Come on, over a hundred years go by and we’re only just agreeing with some of the stuff from this manifesto? Society can do better. We need to stop taking the easy way out of trying to reform useless, broken concepts and traditions.