Mina Loy’s ”Feminist Manifesto”: The Shifting Voice of the Futurist-Feminist Persona

Karabulut T.

The 11th International IDEA Conference on Literature, Language and Cultural Studies in Turkey, Ankara, Turkey, 12 - 14 April 2017

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Ankara
  • Country: Turkey



The British avant-garde poet and artist Mina Loy emerges as an extravagant and revolutionary female figure illuminating the social and political concerns of the early modernist period. Her works address issues of gender, stereotypical woman images, the female body, and sexuality. She is associated with various artistic movements, such as Surrealism, Dadaism and Imagism and particularly Futurism, an Italian movement launched with Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto” in 1909. The Futurists’ declarations reject the past, its nostalgia and artistic and political traditions, and call for the destruction of institutions which preserve these traditions, such as libraries, museums and academies. Embracing ideas of dynamism, technology, industrialization and war, the futurists also fantasize a womanless world, and aggressively attack feminism and moralism. 

Loy was initially inspired by the sentiments of Futurism and drafted a text in her own futurist rhetoric, “Aphorisms on Futurism”; but soon moved away from the movement due to its extreme misogynistic and egotistical views. Her idiosyncratic prose-poem “Feminist Manifesto” outlines an agenda, presumably written as a response to Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto,” which replaces the “futurist” voice of the narrator with a “feminist” one. It addresses women to galvanize them against the subordinate position of women in society by declaring men and women as “not equal” but “enemies”; and to critique this position as a complex product of culturally embedded male misogyny and women’s self-perceptions. This paper will examine, in terms of various concepts of “feminine writing” (with reference to Cixous, Irigaray, Kristeva, Ettinger and Pollock) how the narrative voice in Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” shifts between “futurist” and “feminist,” and addresses its “ideal reader” in order to problematize Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto.”