Monday, June 3, 2013

reading notes, entry 7...

*Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life by Stephanie Staal.

Why I read this now:

Okay, so I've wanted to read this ever since reading Ana's review. Then even more when Ana gave it to me.

But I hesitated. Because I was afraid much of it would be lost on me due to the fact that I haven't read any of the great books of feminism and know little of feminist theory.

Ah, but then when Annie and I were trying to decide what classes she would take at MCC next year and what she would study at home, she asked if we could study feminism. This is both seriously awesome and seriously daunting for me. Awesome--I get to read and discuss feminists writings with my intelligent, insightful daughter. Daunting--where the hell do I begin in planning this class?!! Yeah, enter this know, along with pestering my dear friend Ana. :)

Random thoughts:

*Okay, I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I wasn't expecting this book to feel so personal. I wasn't expecting to cry, for heaven's sake! Ha--and it's not even like Staal's story and mine are all that similar. And yet there's no denying I could relate all too well with her feelings.  LOL--and I'm only on page 8.

*Waaaahhh!!! I still love this book. I do. But want to pout for a moment, because it just completely spoiled The Awakening for me. I know, I know, what I have expected from a book subtitled "How the Great Books of Feminism Change My Life," right? But still...waaaaaaahhhhh.

*I'm sorry to say that that's were my random notes came to an end. Not because there wasn't plenty more I wanted to write down, but I was just so sucked into the book, and my thoughts were often conflicting, and well, I just didn't get around to jotting anything down. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I would have shared many of my thoughts anyway. At this point they're a bit of a confused jumble, and are definitely too personal. Not too personal to *ever* share, but more just the kind of things that I need time with myself to untangle and tease out. I can say that I enjoyed this book A LOT. And that it made me even more excited to have this reading adventure with Annie on the horizon.


The act of rereading, as I have learned over the years, is an especially revealing one; in its capacity to conjure up our previous selves.... Books may appear as so many words on a page, static, when actually they are ever changing--shifting, a palimpsest onto which the narrative of the reader's life is continually taking form." (p. 10)
Mary Wollstonecraft is an imperfect heroine, but I find her all the more compelling for the weaknesses braided into her strengths, the spectacular failures alongside her many triumphs. When Wollstonecraft found herself living her worst fear as an unwed mother, desolate enough to try to take her own life, she nevertheless managed to survive--to thrive even, and to love again. She took full charge of her destiny, and in that respect, she was the best inspiration I had come across in a long time, a much needed reminder that rejecting marriage and motherhood was not the only way to be a revolutionary, but simply the most obvious. (p. 76)
Of course, since ancient times, women have been the targets of discrimination and denigration--and indeed, still are--but these women perceived a historical moment in which it was incumbent upon them to stand up and protest. The moment did not last long, but its reputation of infamy certainly has--which speaks volumes to our cultural discomfort with rebellious women. (p. 162)
They understood that housework is largely about power and respect--not all the time, but often enough. Consider the way housework becomes a public slur, a weapon leveled against the woman who enters the public sphere and is told to iron some man's shirt or some other form of "get back in the kitchen, where you belong." While cooking and cleaning can sometimes be soothing, satisfying even, this is not about the triumphs of the occasional spring cleaning or the pleasure of a home-cooked meal; this is about housework being presented as some sort of genetic destiny. (p. 177) 
Words I had to look up:

prurient--having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters

Stuff I am now eager to read:

*Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels (Ha! And if anyone had told me I'd want to read this book before now, I'd have laughed--hopefully not to their face, but inside my head anyway.)
*"The Politics of Housework" by Pat Mainard
*The Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
*Baghdad Burning by Riverbend

Quote postcards sent:

Chris: 1 with "melancholy"


Andi said...

I haven't read tons of the great feminist works either. I loved Women's Studies books when I was in my early 20s but it seems like they were more often commentary on great feminist works rather than my actually sitting down WITH the great feminist works. Ack!

Care said...

I want to read Fear of Flying, too.

Ali said...

This is what I love about homeschooling--the way it opens us up to learn about things we would never have taken on. This book sounds like a great place for you and Annie to start.

Eva said...

Oh, I love that first quote! Do you mind if I borrow it for one of my bookish quote posts? I read this ages ago and was disappointed it was a memoir rather than more intellectual, but that could have just been my expectations.

Debi said...

To be perfectly honest, I'm a little afraid to read some of the great feminists books for fear I'm not smart enough to get them. But I'm excited to try all the same. :)

Perhaps we should read it together some time? I think Ana wants to read it too (if she hasn't already gotten to it.)

Agreed! I think it is probably my most favorite of a list of a bazillion things I love about homeschooling. :D

Yes, of course!
I can definitely see being disappointed going into this book with different expectations. I already knew it was a memoir because of Ana's review. But I can't count how many times I've been disappointed, through no fault of the author, with a book simply because it wasn't the book I thought it was going to be.