The Woman Warrior

Contradictory Criticism of The Woman Warrior: Kingston’s Text as a Political Device College

Published in 1975, The Woman Warrior turned autobiographer Maxine Hong Kingston into one of the most prominent female voices of her generation. As gender/feminist studies programs developed at major Universities across the United States, professors added Kingston’s story to their curricula as an example of finding one’s feminist voice through female authorship. Yet, while feminists discovered an empowering message within the text, critics argued that the book was not only culturally inaccurate in its portrayal of Chinese culture but also irresponsible, in that it reinforced the stereotypical American views of China as an entirely patriarchal and oppressive society. In articles written about The Woman Warrior on both sides of the debate, critics such as Yuan Shu largely focus on feminist theory and concepts that were taught in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Yet, while it seems appropriate for critics to base their research on the feminist theory that was being studied at the time that the autobiography was written, Kingston’s ideas within the text were in many ways ahead of her time.

Contemporary feminist critics have included recent feminist theory into their analyses of the text to reveal priorities other than focusing on the...

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