Wednesday’s Words #5: Women


We’re well past Women’s History Month, but, as many of you know, I recently finished The Essential Feminist Reader.  Instead of writing a review of the book, I’ve decided to share my favorite quotes from the many well thought out pieces of writing that were included in it.

“I would venture that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” – Virginia Wolf

I love Virginia Wolf and her essay “A Room of One’s Own”.  I own it as an ebook, and I don’t think I’ll ever archive it because there are too many great lines that I enjoy looking up from time to time.  I really should get a physical copy.  This is probably the most well-known quote from that essay.  I will probably do a “Wednesday’s Words” dedicated just to her in the near future.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

It wasn’t until I was 14 when I happened upon a short historical fiction novel about a young woman living during the height of the Suffragette’s fight for the vote, and I was so confused because no one had ever told me anything about it.  Why hadn’t I learned about this in school?  Did this really happen?  I’m pretty sure I checked out every single book about women’s history and Feminism from the library that year.

“Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing…Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” – Hélène Cixous

When I was going to school, women’s history simply wasn’t taught, and despite having a few very progressive women teachers in high school, including one who taught US History, the subject was never brought up.  If it weren’t for my curiosity and the public library, I wouldn’t have known anything about it.  I don’t know if that’s changing or has already changed, but I know there are organizations trying to ensure that young girls grow up knowing of all the great women who have done and accomplished so much.  A Mighty Girl is one of them.

“…BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included and can understand in our own ways…

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments,…

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t cool…

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process…

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak…

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.”

– Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill, “Riot Grrrl Manifesto”

I was reading about Feminism when the Third Wave and the Riot Grrrl movement were already well established.  There was nothing about the Third Wave in the library, so I didn’t know about it until I was much older, but I was and still am, a huge music geek, and I listened to Bikini Kill  and other Riot Grrrl bands while I read about the Feminism of the 70’s and 80’s.  Because I surrounded myself with the stories of great women and the increasing amount of women in rock during the 90’s, I almost didn’t believe that sexism was still an issue.  I experienced sexism all the time, and I don’t even know how many times I listened to songs like “Just a Girl” by No Doubt, but it wasn’t until I was an adult and was faced with it in such a way that there was no denying what it was, that I began seeing how much I had internalized and accepted without a thought.  Up until that point, Feminism was just a part of Women’s History to me.  I began listening to all those old songs from my teen years and slowly rediscovered my favorite Feminist books and finding newer ones to love.  I’ve never looked back or questioned the existence of sexism again.

“I am sick of the way women are negated, violated, devalued, ignored.  I am livid, unrelenting in my anger at those who invade my space, who wish to take away my rights, who refuse to hear my voice…My anger and awareness must translate into tangible action…I am not a postfeminism feminist.  I am the Third Wave.” – Rebecca Walker