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Book Talk > Philosophical Discussion- Feminist Books?

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message 1: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
Lately I have been thinking about the books I read, and how many of them actually have strong female characters that are aligned with feminist philosophies. Of course, there are the typical titles that everyone thinks of as feminist, like "The Handmaiden's Tale," "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Bell Jar," etc; but what about "Harriet the Spy" or Madeleine L'engle's "Wrinkle In Time" series? What about Junie B. Jones or Beezus and Ramona? I think it's an interesting thing to think about, particularly regarding children's books. So, my question... what books in your collection would you consider feminist, or not, and why?

message 2: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
And, a follow up question, does it matter? I definitely read my share of macho dreck, so I'm not passing judgement.

message 3: by Kristi (new)

Kristi | 48 comments Hey Agatha - we must be on a similar brain wave. I just posted (at work) an article from salon.com that discusses a feminist perspective on the Twilight books. Here it is for others who may be interested:


message 4: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
This is one of the reasons I've been putting off reading the books! It's slightly disturbing how the teen girls feel about Edward, including my own daughter.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 259 comments Mod
I read all the Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover books as a teenager, and they were chock full of 70's feminist issues.
Now, they seem a bit overheated and ridiculous, but they're still fun. I never could get through The Mists of Avalon, though.

message 6: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
I never read those books. What sorts of issues did they touch on?

message 7: by Judy (last edited Dec 05, 2008 11:26AM) (new)

Judy (jpitchford) | 40 comments I like the Honor Harrington series by David Weber and the 'In Death' books by JD Robb. I sometimes wonder what it says about me that I love these characters so much... I want to grow up to be them, maybe...

message 8: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
Those Honor Harrington books sound interesting. I like Stephanie Plum! In a way, she's very feminist. She does utilize the men in her life frequently to suit her own needs, but in the end she always chooses her own instinct over anyone else's, and she doesn't back down easily.

message 9: by Judy (new)

Judy (jpitchford) | 40 comments Agathafrye wrote: "Those Honor Harrington books sound interesting. I like Stephanie Plum! In a way, she's very feminist. She does utilize the men in her life frequently to suit her own needs, but in the end she al..."

Eve Dallas ('In death' books) is the same way.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 259 comments Mod
The MZB books were all about whether a woman could be both a working woman, and a sexual woman, at the same time.

There were some psychic inhibitions in play in one of the books, The Forbidden Tower that resulted in a sexual partner getting a bit singed, I recall. They had to find a way to break through the psychic barriers to free the tower "Keeper" from a life of celibacy.

In another book, Thendara House, women's roles were examined in three different types of societies - "space age", a women's guild, and a middle-eastern-type repressive one.
Even the space age society wasn't all that progressive, being really just 70s America with spandex as it was portrayed in the book.

message 11: by Kate (last edited Dec 06, 2008 03:38PM) (new)

Kate I just finished reading that Salon review of the Twilight books. Yuck! Glad they hold no pull on me.

Are these books that you-all are talking about YA books? I've read Madeline L'Engle and Beverly Cleary to my kids, but am no longer reading YA or childrens books. How about adult lit? Does anyone have a thought?

Oops, it looks like Jackie did talk about adult.

I think the 70s was a different time. That lit, even the really good stuff (Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon) was written for a different time, when equal pay was considered absurd, pregnant girls had to travel long distances to have abortions because they weren't available, the job advertisements were separated into male and female, sexual harassment on the job, for that matter, date rape, was considered part of acceptable behavior. This was the reality of life that existed until Very Recently (as in maybe until the last 20-25 years). I think lit now is more subtle because it isn't necessary to be otherwise.

message 12: by Agathafrye (new)

Agathafrye | 751 comments Mod
Fay Weldon! I forgot all about her. Nice insights, Kate. I think you're right that it's become less of an issue in literature now because the discrepancies between men's and women's rights are more subtle now. I think lgbtq issues are starting to take the place of a lot of feminist perspectives these days, particularly with the teen lit.

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