Feminism In The Novel 'Sula' By Toni Morrison

2006 Words9 Pages
According to an Arizona Law Journal from 1994, “Feminism is the set of beliefs and ideas that belong to the broad social and political movement to achieve greater equality for women” (Fiss, 512). This quote is salient because feminism is a “broad social and political movement” meaning that striving for gender equality can be achieved in a plethora of ways. In the novel Sula, author Toni Morrison utilizes characters like Hannah and Sula Peace to create a feminist novel as both characters are the antithesis of conventional women who are oppressed and dependent upon men. This novel takes place in a town in Chicago referred to as The Bottom from 1919-1965 during a time of racism and sexism when women were seen as property. Sula refuses to accept…show more content…
She does this by doing whatever makes her happy which means remaining unmarried like Sula, having sex for the sheer pleasure, and not being too concerned with motherhood. According to Morrison, “She would fuck practically anything, but sleeping with someone implied for her a measure of trust and a definite commitment” (44). Hannah can be seen as an individualistic woman because she has sex with men but doesn’t actually sleep with them because that would mean trusting and committing to them. The only motive that Hannah has sex with these men is for her own pleasure from the sex and not for loyalty or devotion. Through these motives, Morrison portrays Hannah as being self-reliant and engaging in actions that bring her self-pleasure. In relation to this, feminism encourages “a popular culture which enhances rather than degrades one 's self-respect and respect for others” as well as the “freedom to define social and sexual relationships” (Hyde Park Chapter). This means that feminism inspires one to define their own relations with others and to participate in a culture that bolsters one’s self-confidence and self-reliance. Through Hannah, Morrison voices components of feminism revealed in the above quotes which further develops the book into a feminist piece of literature. Another way that Morrison…show more content…
They argue that although there are feminist ideas established throughout the book, it doesn’t fit under the feminist ideology or definition. Many say that feminism is the “political, social, and economic equality of the sexes” and that Morrison is not advocating for this in any way (Watkins). Critics fail to understand that although that is the modern day definition of feminism, it may not have been the definition of feminism back in the twentieth century setting of the novel. Women faced different forms of discrimination back during that time when compared to today. Therefore, we cannot use this one single, broad definition of feminism and use it to declare that Sula is not a feminist novel. As written by Crossley, Taylor, Whittier, and Pelak, “While feminists may disagree about what constitutes feminist ideology and identity, feminism has never been monolithic and will continue to develop and evolve” (511). The preceding quote demonstrates how feminism is always evolving with time and changes in societal controversies; it further exemplifies how some feminists mat not agree with other feminists’ beliefs. This supports the argument that it is not valid to use one definition to describe feminism and use it to argue that Sula isn’t feminist literature. During the 20th century, a feminist may have advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment which “became a
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