Rage and role models: Observation Note 60 and Reading Notes 22-23

Observation Note 60: Here’s one I prepared earlier. Over the years I have started many a blog post just to leave it in my drafts unpublished. Study, family, work – a number of responsibilities have always kept me from completing posts. Since I decided to blog every day in June I thought it would be a good opportunity to post some of those drafts as well as books that I have read over the years. I know that it will make for a bit of disjointed reading. I was hoping for my observations and notes to link in and refer to each other but it might take me a while to get into writing posts with interlinking ideas. Meanwhile, over the next month I will list some books that I have enjoyed over the past few years that I have not managed to post about. The scant few people who follow ShallowReader on Instagram or GoodReads may have already seen me discuss some of the ones I will highlight. Here are two for today which are kind of in the same genre as Vivian Gornick and Elizabeth Cady Stanton from my previous notes and observations this week.

Reading Note 22: How deep is your rage. I read Mary Beard’s Women and Power: A Manifesto over a month ago. Mary Beard traces the origins of Western history’s misogyny from Homer’s Odyssey through the millennia to the contemporary era, showing how women have been excluded from civic life with “public speech being defined as inherently male”. The book is made up of two essays, both adaptations of keynote speeches Beard made in the 2010s. Beard is a classist and a historian and her writing style is engaging and clear. She argues that women should not try to be more like men but instead, we should be challenging societal structures so that we can place a higher value on female traits. In showing many examples of women being silence, Beard in her second essay, goes full circle and starts examining the ways that women were found to have their voices heard.

I became especially engrossed in Fulvia, the first living woman to have her image on Roman coins, who repeatedly stabbed the dead Cicero’s tongue for having silenced her in the past. I had never heard of Fulvia before, but I felt like I understood the sheer, burning anger that she must have had, especially in light of the belligerent dismissal and the continued perpetuation of silencing Australian women’s voices protesting the rape culture in our parliament. If you are unaware of the reason for all the women’s marches around Australia, a quick internet search should bring up our heinous government’s attitude towards women. Even this week, the continued dismissal of Brittany Hughes who was raped within the Australian parliament continues to make me rage rage rage (but not so much that I would stab at a dead tongue).

Reading Note 23: Model reader. I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s We Should All Be Feminists which is the speech she made for her TED talk in which she discusses the importance of feminism and the institutional marginalisation of women and, frankly how to understand these issues and work toward making changes. The thing that especially stood out for me in my reading of this short essay is that, just like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Infidel, and Alice Munro, and I am sure many other writers, Ngozi Adiche read a lot of Mills & Boon novels. I feel that this is good company to keep.