I have read enough about men, thank you
I never did like Lord of the Rings and after reading these tweets, I’ve figured out why.
Watching Lord of the Rings with my daughter. She’s 5. She has a lot of questions, but the first was “Are there only boys in this movie?”Joliet4
Rewatched the LOTR trilogy recently and my kid casually says, “this is the only scene where 2 women speak to each other in the whole trilogy.” The exchange? A little girl says to Eowyn, “Where’s Mama?!” Eowyn shushes her. “Shh!” End scene. Ouch.Gabriella Cázares-Kelly
I can’t remember if we read The Hobbit (I think we did and I hated it) in high school, but I do remember some of the other books we read:
- Lord Jim
- Heart of Darkness
- A Tale of Two Cities
- Great Expectations
- Lord of the Flies
- A Separate Peace
- The Great Gatsby
- Wuthering Heights
- Catcher in the Rye
I also remember some of the authors and books I read in college, where I was an English major:
- Shakespeare stuff
- Moby Dick
- Far from the Madding Crowd
- The Awakening
- A Room of One’s Own
- The White Hotel
- Women in Love
- The Good Soldier
- Huckleberry Finn
Although some of them were OK – how can you not like Dickens? he’s so plot driven – most of the stories did not speak to me.
They were stories written by men about men. About men’s lives, interior and exterior.
Even when there were women, they were about men about women. Even when the word “women” was in the title, the story was about men. In Women in Love, my professor suggested that it was really the two men who loved each other, referencing a naked wrestling scene, which, yeah, two men wrestling naked with each other would lead me to think that maybe they weren’t so interested in the women, either.
In the books written by women – The Awakening and A Room of One’s Own – the lives of the female characters are awful. The Awakening ends with the character walking into the ocean to drown herself because she can’t bear it anymore.
Here’s some what I read when I was a girl and had a choice:
- Nancy Drew
- The Ramona books
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Are You There God It’s Me Margaret
- Trixie Belden
- Pippi Longstocking
- Anne of Green Gables
- Caddie Woodlawn
- Little House on the Prairie
Do you notice a theme?
They’re all books about girls.
They’re all books where girls are the heroes.
I loved to read. I loved to read when I was a kid. I loved to read so much when I was a kid that the library would let me check books out on my mom’s ID card without my mom being there. I loved to read so much that my parents had to force me to join a soccer team. I loved to read.
And then I got to high school and college English. I still loved to read, but it suddenly wasn’t as much fun. Some of it was the adult themes – I have only in the past few years really understood Lord Jim, which is all about regret; some of it was the stupid whininess of rich teenaged boys – looking at you, Holden Caufield; but most of it, I think, was because almost none of it was by or about women and girls.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this is The Canon, but maybe the canon should change? (Maybe it has. I hope so.)
But after high school English and college English, I didn’t read for fun for a long time. I bought the occasional book (which is very much not me – why would I pay for something so ephemeral?) but didn’t get a library card until 12 years after I had graduated from college.
I had forgotten that there were stories by women about women. I had forgotten there were stories where girls and women were the heroes.
Do I sound crabby? I guess I am.
I’m crabby that women’s stories are dismissed as “chick lit,” especially when women write those stories, but men’s stories are just – stories. Literature. (See Jennifer Weiner’s accurate observations about this issue.)
I’m crabby that we’re in a world where women are being diminished and our rights are being taken away and our stories don’t seem to matter.
I’m crabby that women who are miscarrying are being sent home from ERs rather than being treated because the hospitals are scared.
I don’t know if literature can change the world, but do you think maybe if these legislators had read more women’s stories, they might feel differently?