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Jan—My Life on the Road (2016) > Discussion Chapter: 2 Talking Circles

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message 1: by Ana (new)

Ana Bribiesca (atbribiesca) | 10 comments Wow! This chapter had a loooot of information!

•What was your favorite part of this chapter?

Mine, was learning a little about India and how the "Talking Circles" were created in those little towns :)


message 2: by Ana (new)

Ana Bribiesca (atbribiesca) | 10 comments Oh! I apologize, I didn't think this would bother anyone. Thank you though. I won't be posting a 3rd one. Enjoy the book.


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michelleturnerismyname) | 28 comments I loved all of this chapter! I appreciated the author's experience through the last large Feminist movement especially the bit about the 1977 National Women's Conference. That was super cool to learn about and get to read about how it was put together.


message 4: by Emilie (new)

Emilie L'Abbée | 7 comments Any comments about the prelude or intro? I definitely needed to google define a few words, like aberration, and pause to reflect on the stated purposes of the book.


message 5: by Emilie (last edited Jan 12, 2016 05:07PM) (new)

Emilie L'Abbée | 7 comments Having just read the prelude and part of the introduction, I already feel wonderfully empowered and amazed at the nonconformity of Steinem's thinking, particularly her words on xx, "I'm also now IMMUNE to politicians who say, 'I've traveled the length and breadth of this great land, and I know . . . ' I've traveled more than any of them, and I don't know."

That word "immune" really speaks to me; I sat thinking about it for a while. It is easy to be susceptible to the cutting words of the majority and media. Immunity requires a new mindset.

I am very eager to go on.


message 6: by Emilie (new)

Emilie L'Abbée | 7 comments Ana wrote: "Oh! I apologize, I didn't think this would bother anyone. Thank you though. I won't be posting a 3rd one. Enjoy the book."

Actually, I have been hoping we could discuss it as we go. I feel like it helps me to unpack the text with peers. If some people find this to be "spoiling," perhaps we could indicate more that in the group name?


message 7: by Emilie (new)

Emilie L'Abbée | 7 comments C. wrote: "I don't mean to be rude and I appreciate your enthusiasm, but shouldn't all discussions about the book happen only in the last week of the month?"

Actually, I have been hoping we could discuss it as we go. I feel like it helps me to unpack the text with peers. If some people find this to be "spoiling," perhaps we could indicate more that in the group name?


message 8: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Butler Emilie wrote: "Ana wrote: "Oh! I apologize, I didn't think this would bother anyone. Thank you though. I won't be posting a 3rd one. Enjoy the book."

Actually, I have been hoping we could discuss it as we go. I ..."


I'm with you on that Emilie! Chapter by chapter makes more sense, or else everyone will discuss the book at once! If people don't want the spoilers of a chapter, then they can avoid the discussions of the chapter. There are over seventy thousand people in this group (the last I checked) and not everyone is going to have one form of discussion.

In other words, we are one large digital talking circle!


message 9: by Marian (new)

Marian (mazz227) Ana wrote: "Oh! I apologize, I didn't think this would bother anyone. Thank you though. I won't be posting a 3rd one. Enjoy the book."

I like listening to fellow readers discuss their thoughts of the book as we go along too. I think it provides more insight. And the main advantage of a book club.

Hope to hear more from you Ana as we go along.

People who don't want to read spoilers have the ability to not click on chapter discussions I'm sure.

I'm really enjoying the book so far. The author is a fascinating person.


message 10: by Crystlle (new)

Crystlle Medansky | 3 comments Hi Ana! Difficult to choose just one favorite part in this chapter, but something that really resonates is the practical organizing wisdom of talking circles, “If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.” I laughed and learned so much just reading about the author’s experience on the women-only railway car; find myself wondering how many spontaneous talking circles I may have missed either because I wasn’t listening or because I didn’t speak up to let someone know they are seen–both, I think, different aspects of generosity that we can practice every day.


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Rukavina | 5 comments So I really loved the idea of "talking circles" and how they can positively enhance the lives of many people, not just in the 1900's but today as well. I think it is so infinitely important to be able to listen just as much as we speak.

I also loved the before and after idea.. I believe that everyone will have a before and after in their lives.

I enjoyed learning more about India as well. I can't wait to continue reading and see what else Gloria has to share with us.


message 12: by Vikram (last edited Jan 17, 2016 10:03PM) (new)

Vikram Rao | 5 comments I found it a bit challenging to just stick with one, but I'll described what I enjoyed. I'm Indian, so when she was describing India and her experiences (talking circles, food, and communication with people), it was quite nostalgic. One of the other aspects was when Gloria was organizing the conferences (56 in all with each spanning a couple days) and the turnout of women who showed up was quite astronomical (Alaska had room for 600, but 7,000 showed up; NY had >11,000, 4 times the predicted attendance). It really showed that people were unaware of the problems that existed regarding women's issues (e.g. reproductive and abortion rights as well as domestic violence); but once these issues were brought up to light, everyone had the chance to come together to discuss. In a way, I felt the talking circles that started in those small areas of India were essentially scaled into larger talking circles in the form of conferences in the U.S. By the end, that section about the Before and After idea was great: it really showed how she transformed and gained more confidence in her belief that women could run these type of large events just as well (if not better) than men. It was a great chapter overall.


message 13: by Rob (new)

Rob | 15 comments I also think it is beneficial that there is progressive discussion of the book as we read it. It should add to, not take away from the discussion we have at the end. Organizing discussions by chapter makes sense and the process through which this occurred mirrors the talking circles that Steinem wrote of in chapter 2.


message 14: by Janey (new)

Janey Kollock | 11 comments Ana- I hope you, or anyone else that wants to keep doing these Chapter discussions will keep starting them up. Don't let one person quiet your voice. As other's have said, if they don't want to participate they can scroll right past this thread...

The part of this Chapter that really hit me hard was this line... "...the most reliable predictor of whether a country is violent within oneself- or will use military violence against another country- is not poverty, natural resources, religion, or even degree of democracy; it's violence against females. It normalizes all other violence." Just WOW... It's not even something I know how to discuss fully. But reading that line gave me chills.

A second part of this Chapter that got me extra emotional (it happened a few times in this Chapter!) was the line Coretta Scott King gave in Houston- "There is a new force, a new understanding, a new sisterhood against all injustice that has been born here. We will not be divided and defeated again!" Tears- of joy, of inspiration, of the power of togetherness. Amazing!!!

Can't wait to dive in to Chapter 3...if no one else has started a discussion I will go ahead and do it!


message 15: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviareads) | 13 comments I just finished this chapter and my feminist spirit is lit more than ever.

By the way, I agree. Continue with the chapter by chapter dialogues. I like it this way. :)


message 16: by Shawntaye (new)

Shawntaye Hopkins | 1 comments I think discussing chapter by chapter is a great way to collect your thoughts for the big discussion at the end. Also, it's easy to not click on the chapter discussion if you don't want to read it.


message 17: by Alice (new)

Alice Rose (alicerose90) | 6 comments I also like discussing the book chapter by chapter. Is anyone going to make threads for the other chapters? :)

I loved reading about Gloria's experiences in India and the before/after idea. I honestly believe that we all have that turning point in our lives - one significant event that changes the way we think.


message 18: by Alexandria (new)

Alexandria | 24 comments Ana wrote: "Oh! I apologize, I didn't think this would bother anyone. Thank you though. I won't be posting a 3rd one. Enjoy the book."

I like having discussions as we go along, because the material is more fresh in our heads than if we wait until we're completely finished.


message 19: by Missy (new)

Missy Graves (mgraves) "When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses."

This sentence gave me goosebumps as soon as I heard it, and then had me crying the more that I thought about it. The impact of this sentence can be so far-reaching.


message 20: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Walker (kristenswalker) I also like being able to discuss parts of the book as I go along. It's easy enough to find each thread in the group as I finish each chapter.

I really enjoyed this chapter and hearing about her experiences. I know that Gloria Steinem has accomplished a lot during her career and activism, but it was interesting to see the origins of that and how she learned her methods, through the Talking Circles in Indian villages and also by doing joint lectures with other women. It's like, looking back from now, I think, "How did she do all of that? Where did she get so much confidence and skill?" But she reflects on the learning process and how she came to be that authority in a very down-to-earth manner.

Her methods and manner reminded me a lot of two other writers that I respect, Starhawk and Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin has written more fiction than speaking directly about feminism, but she models a lot of these practices in the societies that she writes about. In particular, The Telling is a novel about how one woman rediscovers the power of the spoken word and also listening. Le Guin's fictional societies are inspired in part by her father's work as an anthropologist with Native American tribes, and there are often talking circles and traditions of reaching a consensus through group discussion. She also comes from the same generation as Gloria Steinem so perhaps some of her world view was shaped by similar experiences with the development of the civil rights and feminist movements.

Starhawk is a Pagan author who has written much more bluntly about feminism, hierarchies of power, politics, etc. Her religious/activist organization is explicitly called a collective because it is based on every member having an equal voice. She talks about "shared power", how we can share authority and responsibility together instead of one person dominating over others, and she models this by things like always having at least two co-teachers in every class to provide more than one perspective. She's younger than Steinem and names her as an influence on her work.

So it was interesting to me to find the parallels to other books that I've read before, but also to see a new perspective and have these theories and methods presented in a different way. It's also encouraging to hear about all of Steinem's experiences in how these methods work. Just the act of listening to others gained her so much, from remote villages in India to large-scale events like the Houston conference. It's incredible how she was able to treat so many different kinds of people with respect and get to learn their stories. It makes me want to be a better listener and see what I can learn.


message 21: by Patrice (new)

Patrice Fick I really loved this chapter! I'm a counselor in an elementary school, and I while I've been taught in numerous classes the importance of working in circles it's not something I do frequently. After reading this chapter I decided I needed to change up how I talk with students during guidance class, so I've added a few modified talking circles to my upcoming lessons. I can't wait to see how they go!


message 22: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 4 comments This chapter really moved me, particularly her focus on listening as much as you speak. I find in myself a vast lacking in this area. It's so easy to think your opinions/beliefs are of utmost importance, but really how can you learn what you really think/believe until you have opened your mind to hear and learn from others?


message 23: by Katherine (new)

Katherine (coffeeandhope) | 5 comments I love this chapter. I feel like hierarchies are something I struggle with because I want to be a go-getter and in our society that means picking something and climbing to the top of that field. Success in the traditional American sense relies on hierarchies, so how can I abandon hierarchies for the more informed talking circle. That was a struggle even for the Houston Conference. They still had to pick representatives and spokesmen and using voting to do so. How do you keep power positions at bay long term?

I've always loved the talking circle. I taught nursery in college and often nursery level teachers use "circle time". When I began to teach college freshmen I used circle time there too! In a particular lesson on campus diversity it ended up being the most empowering tool. Beyond just letting the circle break down the notions of what kind of student you are based on where you sit in the classroom, I also had them move to whomever their beliefs began to align with. With open movement through ideas and a breakdown of the hierarchy feeling of a traditional classroom the students opened up and learned from each other and not just me. And of course they new loads more than I, especially about diversity, I'm just a little straight white girl who grew up in the suburbs. My students were a variety across all the spectrums you can think of, and they taught me so much then. I plan to always use this method of discussion to teach and would love to see more of it among our leaders.


message 24: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (goodreadscomkaos127) | 18 comments I am about halfway through the book, and this was my favorite chapter so far. I thought I knew a lot about the feminist movement, but I clearly did not. The story of the Houston convention was fascinating--how all these different women came together--and made some converts along the way! It is a perfect testament of what we are capable of when we are not divided by extreme politics--if only we could recreate that now.


message 25: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (theimaginetree) | 4 comments I find it interesting how Gloria Steinem described using the idea of talking circles as a form of organizing. One of reasons why I decided to become a feminist and pursue a degree in Women's Studies is because in my Intro to Women's Studies class, the first day we rearranged our desks from neat lines into a circle. My professor then sat at a desk in the circle and the class became a true discussion, not just a lecture. It is a practice that I continued in my own pedagogy. Talking circles are necessary for social change, because there is no way that one person can speak for everyone; all voices and ideas should be heard and discussed.


message 26: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (theimaginetree) | 4 comments Missy wrote: ""When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses."

This sentence gave me goosebumps as soon as I heard it, and then had me crying the more that I thought about it. The impact of this sen..."


I think this is one of my favorite lines from the book so far.


message 27: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Madlin I, too, loved hearing about India and about the 1977 women's convention...

I find Steinem's tone about all this so inspiring -- when I notice injustice or prejudice, I just get so MAD. And in a way that doesn't necessarily guide me to do anything constructive. I mean, I can get in fights with people, but that's so limited compared to what she does.... IT's like she gets mad and inspired at the same time -- then she does really sane stuff.... which is so cool!

She was just born to do the kind of thing that she has done. I love hearing about that.... I'm only a little younger than her (relatively speaking; compared to Emma Watson at least), but I'm definitely going to grow up to be more like her!

I've met Steinem in person twice -- once when I was a journalist covering a NYC election, and once in a holistic healing group. Both times, I was so impressed by her energy. God bless the woman for all she has done to change hearts, minds and laws!


message 28: by Anita (new)

Anita | 87 comments Missy wrote: ""When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses."

This sentence gave me goosebumps as soon as I heard it, and then had me crying the more that I thought about it. The impact of this sen..."


I agree - so much meaning in just a few words.


message 29: by Lorelai (new)

Lorelai Berry (lorelai_raven) | 31 comments I loved this chapter. My favorite part was the talking circles. I have always had a passion for travel, and have wanted to go to India for a long time. I loved learning more about the culture, and really diving into the women's culture specifically. I feel like most of the time when learning about Indian culture, it is mostly about the men, or even the children, and the women are skimmed over.


message 30: by Debbie Hayes (new)

Debbie Hayes | 4 comments I know its only the second chapter but so far this one is my favorite. the part about 1977 and the national women conference was so exciting. looking forward to chapter three. :)


message 31: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Riggs | 8 comments I liked the talking circles mentioned in chapter 2 and have used them a lot in my elementary classrooms. I also liked the different people she met, both well known and not so well known and the experiences she brought away from meeting each of those people.


message 32: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kelly wrote: "I am about halfway through the book, and this was my favorite chapter so far. I thought I knew a lot about the feminist movement, but I clearly did not. The story of the Houston convention was fasc..."
1977 really was a year where history was made. Like in 1989, when the wall fell, this was a year of history in the making. You can do that again, you just need to want.

I think the idea of talking circles is cool in many ways. First, everyone can speak at any time and whenever they want. Second, you can do it ANYWHERE. You can sit or stand, under the sky or in a room. Third, you can have it ANYTIME and fourth, you can have it without any preparation.
I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT? (And the 1977 National Women's Conference was one big talking circle. That's impressive.)

I also really liked: "When people are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses." It's so true.

I also found this one quite impressive, on page 32:
"It would take two months as a rare foreigner living in Miranda House, the Women's college at the University of Delhi, and kind-hearted students teaching me how to wear saris and take buses, for me to realize that in a car by myself, I wouldn't really be in India."
It shows that you really have to travel in communities to get to know the communities. Driving by yourself in a car is the exact opposite, and that's one of the reasons why I always use public transport.

I also found this one quite impressive, p.33f:
Later, I would listen to Indira Gandhi describe her youthful travels in these women-only railway cars as her best preparation for becoming prime minister. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, yet she felt she learned more from these women, whose view was personal."
That's pretty impressive, but in some ways logical. In order to lead a country, you have to know the people, so which way is better than to travel with them, to get to know them.

I also found this one really amazing, p. 37:
"If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.
If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.
If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.
I certainly didn't know that a decade or so after I returned home, on-the-road organizing would begin to take up most of my life."
Interacting with people face-to-face and respecting them really opens doors. I'm glad we often did a talking circle in school, when discussing something. It always had its own atmosphere.


message 33: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 82 comments I have just recently purchased and started reading this book. I wish I'd been able to read it along with the rest of the 'Our Shared Shelf" group, but anyways....I loved learning about the "Talking Circles" were created in small Indian towns, as well. One thing I really enjoyed reading, besides this, was how this all culminated at the end of the chapter, where women from all over were finally able to join each other and discuss.


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