Stories that make women want to fly

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We all have our favorite stories, our favorite songs.  The stories and songs that inform us of our place in the universe and our possibilities of changing that place.

For many women, the stories that made them dream of escape were the Disney stories, the stories of princesses waiting for princes.  In the old stories women are usually waiting.  They wait for rescue. I never liked those stories, they were never my story.  The story I liked was the story of The Ugly Duckling.  I wanted to be the swan. But after that, there were more stories that told me who I was, who I could be.

Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston was my dream of a courageous future.

I even liked a book which I am embarrassed to admit I liked, Helen Gurley Brown’s Having it All.  I liked the idea that a woman could control her own destiny.  That led to Backlash Against Women, The Beauty Myth etc.

Of the books on the Huffington Post list of the eighteen books that changed women’s lives, here are the ones that changed my life:

Bluest Eye

The Bell Jar

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

The Diary of Anais Nin

Jane Eyre

All of these books made me see that as a woman I was just as smart and storied as a man.  What I thought when I was younger was that men and women had different stories and their stories were better, bigger, ours were shinier and prettier, but smaller and less important. Let’s face it, of the stories above, none were exactly how you would want your life to turn out.  Jane Eyre married an old guy who was messed up and when she fell in love with him, he was hiding his real wife up in the attic.  Nice.

Bluest Eye—a thirteen year old gets raped by her father in one of the great novels of the 20th century.

Bell Jar—we know how that ended.  Two of Ted Hughes’ wives put their head in an oven.

Anais Nin seemed very romantic to me as a college student, very free, very sexy.

The truth about her? She was a narcissist  and probably a borderline personality. She slept with many men and women including her own father. She had abortions and multiple affairs.  When she died of cancer, she was married to two men. Not exactly a role model.

So why do love these books, brutally sad and really profoundly terrible? Because we like to be part of the big story.  The big adventure. We like to know that we can change gravity.

In the future, there will be more books written by women that tell the story of who we are.  In these stories, we will find our way out of the castle and ride away on our own horse.  Perhaps there is no horse.  Maybe we’re just walking.  At any rate, we have our own transportation, our own boat or flying dragon.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/books-for-women-changed-the-way-you-felt-about-yourself_n_5187942.html

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Published in: on September 22, 2014 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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