Engaging Male Writers, Disputing Misogyny
Austen and the writers highlighted in this case were successful in their craft but still faced sexism. By engaging directly with male writers, these authors demonstrated their familiarity with the works of canonical male writers as a sign of their educated status. Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Charlotte Lennox demonstrate their familiarity with male literary traditions by writing homages to well-known male writers. Browning emulated Byron in An Essay on Mind and Lennox imitated Cervantes in The Female Quixote. Other authors featured here wrote rebuttals to specific male authors, notably Sara Jeannette Duncan in The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib. Duncan describes an intelligent, complex memsahib in a veiled response to Kipling’s stereotype of overly masculine, tyrannical, gossipy, and often adulterous women. Gail Hamilton and Mary Wollstonecraft challenged the political views of their male contemporaries. Hamilton addressed the religion-based misogyny of John Todd while Wollstonecraft responded to the counter-revolutionary and anti-women’s education perspectives of writers like Edmund Burke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.