Debra Malina


In an attempt to create a community of women readers, writers, and critics who can construct a literary discourse amenable to feminist concerns, Patrocinio Schweickart proposes a gender-coded dual reading strategy. When reading "certain (not all) male texts," feminists should invoke "a dual hermeneutic: a negative hermeneutic that discloses [the texts'] complicity with patriarchal ideology, and a positive hermeneutic that recuperates the utopian moment ... from which they draw a significant portion of their emotional power." By thus bifurcating their responses, claims Schweickart, feminists can practise Judith Fetterley's resistance to the "immasculation" that normally uses the woman reader "against herself" by soliciting "her complicity in the elevation of male difference into universality," while simultaneously allowing themselves identification with the male hero, because, in many cases, "stripped of its patriarchal trappings, [the hero's] struggle and his utopian vision conform to [feminists'] own." When reading "female" texts, on the other hand, the feminist reader should take "the part of the woman writer against patriarchal misreadings that trivialize or distort her work," and should take as her ultimate "destination" the writer's "heart and mind: a key "feature of feminist readings of women's writing [is] the tendency to construe the text not as an object, but as the manifestation of the subjectivity of the absent author. ... To read [a woman writer], then, is to try to visit with her, to hear her voice, to make her live in oneself."