Mei 19, 2020

Oleh: Muhammad Alif Faturrachman
(Founder Mediatikusastra)
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It is widely acknowledged that literature is a reflection of society. On one the most general level, most literature portrays people engaging in social interactions. Thus, literature gives an image of society in words just as the bathroom mirror gives a reflected visual image of ourselves (Wofford, 2015). The way that literature reflects society through the work of many authors has represented all kinds of aspects in society such as social, political, ecological, historical, and many others through their works. The fact that literature itself is being composed of human emotion, activity, and experience during both good and bad social-politic condition, in this case, the authors themselves have proved that most literary works are the reflection of the society itself (Patva, 2017). Therefore, it is true that literature does reflect the condition of the society in its contemporary or even in the past and also it reflects how the author views these social conditions through their works. Moreover, literature itself is not just a social ‘product’ that reflects the current society, but it is also a form of social criticism.

For example, George Orwell (1944) wrote Animal Farm, respectively, to express his criticism toward society and human nature. Animal Farm, written in 1944, is a book that tells the animal fable of a farm in which the farm animals revolt against their human masters. It is an example of social criticism in literature in which Orwell satirized the events in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. Therefore, literature itself is a valid form of criticism toward social or political issues that happen in the world. The issue in our society such as class division, abuse of power, feminism, and many others are being criticized through literary work. In addition, social criticism through the media of literature has become widely popular through the ages, the social issue such as feminism has already claimed its own place in the line of social criticism through the art of literature.

The term 'feminism' was coined in 1960. Before that, the central concept behind it was known as women's rights. Feminism has three waves. The first wave had taken place between the middle of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Already in 1999 called the suffragette movement (Hartley, 1999). In our society, femininity and masculinity are the most common factors to distinguish between women and men. Feminine is considered to be only appropriate to appear in women. While the masculine traits that men tend to have been considered to make them superior. In fact, femininity and masculinity are not conditions that arise due to the biological factors, but conditions that are formed by social (Fitria, 2016). Therefore, both women and men have the same opportunity to have femininity and masculinity in themselves. The struggle of the feminism movement in pursuit of gender equality between men and women in all of the social aspects have led to many assumptions of what is ‘equal’. While in the past, the views that women throughout history are being put on a position that is rather inequal to men and often being objectified that they do not possess the same rights as men, therefore, the feminist movement emerged to argues that women should be equal to men and should also hold all rights that are possessed by men in society.

The issue of gender equality has been brought to the literary works by some authors and has been criticized by society itself. In addition, “Gender and Water Network”  (n.d.) described that through a long history of the feminist movement since Christine de Pizan who wrote Epitre au Dieu d'Amour (Epistle to the God of Love) in the 15th  century. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Modesta in Pozzo in Forzi worked in the 16th  century. Marie Le Jars de Gournay, Anne Bradstreet, and Francois Poullain de la Barre wrote during the 17th, today, the position of women in the society has increased rapidly, and even some have surpassed men in several aspects of social, economic, and politics. However, having women stood up and secure themselves in the politics of the society that once have been dominated by the patriarchal system is still resulting in dissatisfaction among women. Therefore, the concept of post-feminism was proposed as both correction and continuation of the feminism concept.

According to Mambrol (2017) in his essay on Post-Feminism, there are no clear agreements about how to define the concept of post-feminism since many have their own assumption of what the term actually defines, this results in contradiction among each other in what they say about the term. However, he stated that the prefix ‘post’ in this context appears to mean ‘going beyond’ or ‘superseding’. Therefore, the term post-feminism could be seen as a confident announcement that feminism has achieved its key aims and that there is full equality for all women and a blurring of the boundaries between traditional ascriptions of gender.

In support of this statement, Macdonald (1995) stated that the post-feminism movement takes the stings out of feminism, in this case, she refers to the removal of the aspect of politics in feminism and claim on the focus of self-empowerment for women. In short, although that feminism has reached its goal of achieving equality and remove the great boundaries between men and women that once existed in the society, some women are yet have not fully achieved the satisfaction of that equality. In reality, women already have the same opportunities as men in various fields, such as in getting an education, employment and also being involved in politics. However, this does not fully benefit women as now women are being captive by their own expectation of achieving greatness and tend to forget about what feminism is actually is, that is self-empowerment. Therefore, the post-feminism concept focuses more on the personal being to self-empower women.

In conclusion, Because of the literary works are in fact the mirror of the society which it could represent how the social condition or the social issues such as the feminism itself in real life depicted by the authors, the concept of post-feminism proposed by Macdonald (1995) could be employed as a mean of literary criticism theory to identify and analyze how women characters in literary works might have in such a position where they are being discouraged by the society that they lived in and how they empower themselves in order to break free from the situation of being underestimated by the society or the patriarchy itself.

Fitria, S. (2016). Novel “the namsake” karya jhumpa lahiri: merayakan feminitas dalam perspektif posfeminisme. Retrieved from
Gender and Water Network. (n.d.). History and theory of feminism.  Retrieved from
Hartley, J. (1999). Uses of television. London; New York: Rutledge.
Macdonald, M. (1995). Representing women: myth of feminity in popular media.London: Bloomsbury Academic
Mambrol, N. (2017). Post-Feminism: An Essay. Retrieved from
Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. London: Secker and Warburg
Patva, D. (2017). Literature is the reflection of society. Retrieved from
Wofford, L. (2017). How is literature the mirror of society?. Retrieved from



Muhammad Alif Faturrachman kerap disapa dengan panggilan “Alif”, “Alep”, “Toad” adalah seorang pemuisi amatiran serta salah satu Founder dari Mediatikusastra. Ia memiliki passion di bidang desain grafis dan komputer dengan jejak rekam petualangan sebagai lulusan “terbaik” dari SMK Negeri 1 Sungailiat, sebuah gelar yang sengaja ia klaim sepihak agar terdengar prestis. Kini, takdir membawa Alif ke jurusan Sastra Inggris di sebuah universitas negeri di Indonesia, dimana ia harus meninggalkan mimpi menjadi seorang game developer atau seorang desainer grafis dan apalah itu mimpi-mimpi yang pernah ia impikan.

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