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The Ellen Jamesians: a hostile feminist movement

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The Ellen Jamesians: a hostile feminist movement In The World According to Garp, Irving's allows us to see the two extremes of feminism. The more positive form of feminism is represented by Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, who doesn't even consider herself a feminist. The more hostile feminist extreme is expressed by the Ellen Jamesians, a group of women who have purposely had their tongues removed in a protest against the rape of an 11-year-old girl Ellen James. This group views women as victims and men as violators and it is through the Ellen Jamesians that Irving seeks to contrast this view with Jenny Fields. This essay describes the Ellen Jamesian Society and their interpretation of feminism, as well as how said interpretation has tarnished their relationships with Ellen James and Garp. The Ellen Jamesians do not see feminism as a movement advocating equal rights for women but rather as a battle between the sexes. ...read more.


Ellen James does not support the radical ideas of feminism that are preached by the Ellen Jamesians. She actually goes as far as to write an essay, Why I am not an Ellen Jamesian, to illustrate why that is: "It recounted her rape, her difficulty with it; it made what the Ellen Jamesians did seem like a shallow, wholly political imitation of a very private trauma. Ellen James said that the Ellen Jamesians had only prolonged her anguish; they had made her into a very public casualty" (538). Unlike the Ellen Jamesians, Garp understands that Ellen James is a real person who has no wish whatsoever to be used for political purposes: "Ellen James is not a symbol" (552). However, the Ellen Jamesians are so paranoid that they don't even care about their own symbol's rejection of them. Ellen James considers that the Ellen Jamesian feminism is too hostile and too radical: "They make everything so black and white" (552). ...read more.


When Jenny Fields is assassinated, the Ellen Jamesians take another step forward in male discrimination by arranging "the first feminist funeral in New York" (487). Not even Garp, Jenny's own son, is allowed to attend his mother's funeral because the Ellen Jamesians claim that: "It's a funeral for women...Women loved her, women will mourn her" (490). Undeniably, Jenny Fields was loved by men too, including Hernie Holm. Garp's private battle with the Ellen Jamesians ends when Pooh Percy, an Ellen Jamesian from his past who is convinced that Garp is to blame for her sister's death, shoots him. Irving illustrates several feminist views in his novel, but the most negative view is seen through the Ellen Jamesians. Unfortunately, these are the only female characters that actually go forth and get actively involved in the movement. The Ellen Jamesians self-inflicted speechlessness keeps them from having any real influence in the struggle for women's equality, and they don't have much in the way of a feminist philosophy: they're all about getting rid of men. As a result, the Ellen Jamesian feminist movement is ultimately useless. ...read more.

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