Gateway Women Book Club discussion

Politics > Feminism, essential writings: Introduction

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message 1: by Janine (new)

Janine | 10 comments Hi everyone - so let's get started.

I've opened this thread for us to discuss the introduction to Miriam Schneir's compilation.

We will be discussing the Introduction through until mid-August when we'll move into the first chapter.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and views on any aspects of the introduction - including the reason the author chose to compile the writings, the importance of the pieces she's selected and whether these writings have relevance to women's contemporary experiences.

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Ryan | 6 comments I love George Sand's play extract and bio, such powerful language, it would be great to see it performed.

message 3: by JM (last edited Aug 01, 2016 05:17PM) (new)

JM | 1 comments I have to say I related to the ideas presented on marriage. I had forgotten how historically the oppression of women via marriage was such a major focus for early feminists. Hard to believe given how glorified marriage is nowadays... And how looked down upon and pitied women are in current times for not being married.

This was one of my favorite quotes in the Introduction (I have many others):

"What would women be like if we were free to develop without being pressured to conform to some pattern set by men?"

I would replace "men" at the end with our culture as, for the most part, women buy in as much to patriarchy as men do.

message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Ryan | 6 comments Frederick Douglas, the male suffagetist, feminist, freed slave and jimmy hendrix lookalike is a major find.

message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Ryan | 6 comments Yes the marriage speeches were very powerful, imagine being an inferior powerless being in your own home!

message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda Raffray | 3 comments I have enjoyed the intro very much. Heartening to see how some progress made from the author commenting on top leaders in India and Ceylon but unthinkable in USA to Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Nicola Sturgeon in power and Hilary Clinton a contender although it's clear she is up against sexism in many states. I like the idea of looking at still unresolved issues . Hopefully some positive moves with marriage and economic independence , although room to improve, but selfhood really interests me. The influence of a male dominated society on our ambitions, hopes and dreams and the very fabric of personality. Also as she recognises we don't know much say about those in harems in the past, I think about those controlled by men in countries like Saudi Arabia.

message 7: by Janine (new)

Janine | 10 comments Like everyone who has posted, I found the introduction to this collection of writings very interesting and thought-provoking. I really relate to the three key points Miriam makes around
- marriage - at the end of the day, marriage is an economic arrangement and women were 'chattels' to be exchanged in these economic arrangements
- economic independence - linked to marriage, but how can women be independent if they don't have value and authority in society
- selfhood - the ongoing theme of body image... An issue that women have struggled with historically and continue to battle.

These concepts are very comtemporary, yet Miriam views were very specific to the time she wrote it - the early 1970s.

I have a number of thoughts that I'd like to share, but will probably continue to develop and make comments as I go. My first observations are:
- Miriam has strong views about the suffrage movement and that it did not have a sustainable ideology for the feminist 'agenda'
- she also has a nationalist perspective that I found intriguing - comparing the US feminists to the Europeans and making judgements on which approach was 'better' at particular points in time
- Miriam's views predate the 'postmodern' era and during the 1990s there was such a big shift towards recognising how women can oppress other women - while we love the concept of the 'sisterhood' I'm sure we've all experienced that not all women have our best interests at heart.

The things that have emerged for me in reading this introduction are the importance of:
- political rights - the power to vote and to be part of the political system is a right that is incredibly important and should never be trivialised
- economic rights - the importance of economic independence can never be underestimated
- legal rights - discrimination is wrong and we all have the legal right to be treated equally
- social rights - this is the most murky of all... and it's more than just body image, it's the right to be free of violence, to be respected, etc.

Anyway, just a few preliminary thoughts and probably more to come...

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