Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Lemon Hound Literary Rule

Okay, so riffing off of the Bechdel test discussed in my earlier post, here's the Lemon Hound Lit Rule for assessing the cultural acuity of a given contemporary literary discussion, publication, essay, critical debate, or otherwise, purporting to be speaking generally of a literature or literatures, as opposed to something specialized, ie, men's or masculinist literature, etc.

It must:
a/ mention two or more female writers or thinkers outside of the speaker's immediate circle, preferably one who is alive, one who the speaker hasn't published, slept with, or married
b/ the reference must not be simply a woman who has written favorably about the person pontificating, not simply a back scratch...
c/ at least one of the females referenced is not one who is identified solely with male literature
d/ that at least one of the women's work or her thinking be included and not simply named as a token, or one who would easily support said pontificate's pov or argument for a better world

I would so love not to have to keep pointing this out...

update: people had trouble with a few of the wordings. Here's a second attempt:

a/ include at least two female writers who are strangers to the writer (ideally one should still be alive)
b/ the writer must also be a stranger to that person (not simply a fan of the writer or a favourable reviewer)
c/ at least one of the women should not be identified soley with the literature of men (i.e. the woman referenced has her own ideas not only mirroring a male mentor or world)

9 comments:

lite house said...

Not to take too much of a grade-school-based view of it, but...

(c) seems awful fudge-factor-ish. Like, if one were assessing some piece of crit based on these criteria, the (c) criterion would allow one to simply dismiss out of hand a mention of any woman one felt didn't make the grade.

"Identified solely with the literature of men"; "a well-balanced point of view"... These have "fudge factor" written all over them. (Sorry again for the vocab; guess it hasn't been that long since I last grubbed for grades.)

Can the rules be clarified to sharpen these aspects? Because I think they have good work to do, but it may want to be done precisely.

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks. Good point. But can it be done precisely? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I seriously hope we don't need rules...I hope this is totally irrelevant.

Lemon Hound said...

I will attempt to reword...but I don't get the grubbing for grades reference. Are you insinuating this is all childish? Fair enough, but it would be good to hear it clearly.

lite house said...

Not at all! It's that I've only ever heard the phrase "fudge factor" in high school, when teachers explained why 5% or so of the total grade wasn't accounted for in the list of marked assignments. (If they liked your attitude etc., they'd use that 5% to reflect it.)

I couldn't come up with a better or less grade-school-associated term than "fudge factor," and thus my school-themed apologies. Nothing to do with the original post, just with my own vocab limitations!

What I'm trying to get at is, setting up "rules" sets up the expectation of something objective. Item (c) seemed to have that "if I like you" fudge factor element, where the teacher-figure can punish or elevate whichever student they like. Which hurts the rules' appearance of being objectively helpful guidelines.

not sure said...

I don't think there should be rules about what one can discuss, write about, etc. I think if you want to make sure women are included, join the discussion and drop the necessary/applicable names, instead of dismissing such conversations as culturally inacuite (if that's a word). Educate, don't hate.

Jordan said...

Masculinist... now you have me wondering why we don't say femininist.

I suspect these principles, which are sound, will only work if critics are forbidden to follow them.

Allen said...

What qualities of a woman's work would make it male literature? It seems disrespectful to say that any woman writing literature is writing "male literature." How condescending.

Lemon Hound said...

Indeed why don't we say femininist? Good word.

Lemon Hound said...

Okay, thanks for feedback all. I've cut the fourth line, hoping that the three rules actually cover the idea of tokenism. Let me know if there are further tucks or expansions needed to this revised, and hopefully simpler version of The Test. It's designed to assess any given contemporary literary discussion, publication, essay, critical debate, or otherwise purporting to be speaking generally of a literature or literatures, as opposed to something specialized, ie, men's or masculinist literature, etc. So, ideally the discussion should:

a/ include at least two female writers who are strangers to the writer (ideally one should still be alive)
b/ the writer must also be a stranger to that person (not simply a fan of the writer or a favourable reviewer)
c/ at least one of the women should not be identified soley with the literature of men (i.e. the woman referenced has her own ideas not only mirroring a male mentor or world)

Apply liberally darlings, and with humour. Make it a superfluous test. I live to be outdated on this. I'm hopeful. Deliriously hopeful. Okay, thanks for feedback all. I've cut the fourth line, hoping that the three rules actually cover the idea of tokenism. Let me know if there are further tucks or expansions needed to this revised, and hopefully simpler version of The Test. It's designed to assess any given contemporary literary discussion, publication, essay, critical debate, or otherwise purporting to be speaking generally of a literature or literatures, as opposed to something specialized, ie, men's or masculinist literature, etc. So, ideally the discussion should:

a/ include at least two female writers who are strangers to the writer (ideally one should still be alive)
b/ the writer must also be a stranger to that person (not simply a fan of the writer or a favourable reviewer)
c/ at least one of the women should not be identified soley with the literature of men (i.e. the woman referenced has her own ideas not only mirroring a male mentor or world)

Apply liberally darlings, and with humour. Make it a superfluous test. I live to be outdated on this. I'm hopeful. Deliriously hopeful. Okay, thanks for feedback all. I've cut the fourth line, hoping that the three rules actually cover the idea of tokenism. Let me know if there are further tucks or expansions needed to this revised, and hopefully simpler version of The Test. It's designed to assess any given contemporary literary discussion, publication, essay, critical debate, or otherwise purporting to be speaking generally of a literature or literatures, as opposed to something specialized, ie, men's or masculinist literature, etc. So, ideally the discussion should:

a/ include at least two female writers who are strangers to the writer (ideally one should still be alive)
b/ the writer must also be a stranger to that person (not simply a fan of the writer or a favourable reviewer)
c/ at least one of the women should not be identified soley with the literature of men (i.e. the woman referenced has her own ideas not only mirroring a male mentor or world)

Apply liberally darlings, and with humour. Make it a superfluous test. I live to be outdated on this.