I took a literary criticism course in college, back in the previous century, and I was the only girl in the class. The teacher had us read the introduction to The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
It blew my mind.
I thought in all-caps for days. “IT’S TRUE! WOMEN HAVE ONLY EVER HAD THE CHOICE OF PURE ANGEL OR WANTON SEDUCTRESS WHEN IT COMES TO STORIES! MY LITERARY HERITAGE IS LESS THAN 2 CENTURIES OLD!”
None of the boys, nor the rather stuffy professor, understood my epiphany, and I have looked for the words to properly express it ever since. Every book with a feminist take, every memoir that speaks plainly about equal rights, every collection celebrating amazing female figures across the ages helps me find those words.
I have read along with Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf feminist book club since she announced it and so far I have found all her choices thought-provoking, even though I haven’t particularly enjoyed the reading of all of them.
I organize a local meet-up of Our Shared Shelf at my bookstore. For each meet-up I think up discussion questions. Feel free to use them for your own discussion group if you think they are useful.