My entire sophomore year of high school I didn't read one book written by a women not because I didn't want to but because i was never assigned one.
Women weren't on the regular sophomore English required reading list. Instead we read 1894 and Shakespeare. You know the Shakespeare that said‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks'
The Shakespeare that told me that I can't complain disagree or say no.
The Shakespeare that turned women into marble statues and roofied fairy queens.
Every time we read Shakespeare in class I read for a male part because I didn't want to say that my heart doth fluttered in my breast.
News-flash William may I call you Will? That's not how female anatomy works.
1984 was not better and you would think that down with big brother is just another way to say let's kill the patriarchy but it's not. Because 1984 may be a dystopia but not much has changed for women.
The first time Winston sees Julia he think about how he wants to rape her. Flip about three hundred pages to the glossary and you'll find "good sex" which and I quotes is normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman." And you can use newspeak that all you want but it's still sexual assault.
Our teacher is reading us 1984 and as Winston describes all the terrible things he wants to do to Julia I sit there in stunned silence. I expect our teacher to stop and open up a discussion or something but nothing is said. Instead we talk about how telescreens are invasion of privacy and we ignore how Winston wanted to rape and murder a random girl at the two minute hate. And that sounds a lot like rape culture to me.
I go from thinking why were we assigned this book? To thinking yes this book is problematic but why did we never talk about the problematic parts?
I'm reading a book for school that is written by a man and I realize that every year of high I have been assigned more books written by men than women.
Freshman year I was Juliet and I saw myself kill myself over a man.
I wrote a paper about how women are a source of strife before realizing that Odysseus waswrong. Wow Odysseus I'm sorry that it took you twenty years to get home. And wow it must have really sucked to get trapped on Calyspo's islandbut you were constantly having sex with her so I doubt it felt much like a prison. If you hated that island why did it take you seven years to leave Calypso and her two children your two children. And I'm sorry that Circe turned you into a pig but she had a point. And I'm sorry that Penelope waited for you for twenty years because she deserved better than you.
But freshman year had some highlights i read the first and last full book written by a woman I would ever be assigned in high school. To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee. And I wonder how Harper Lee would feel if she knew that her book was the only book written by a woman on the top ten most assigned books list. I wonder if she ever gets lonely all alone on that list surrounded by men.
Junior year we were assigned a book written by a woman but my male teacher decided we only needed to read 30 pages. But I read the whole thing and I saw the picture she painted of the female struggle and rape culture and I wondered why our teacher decided we didn't need to read more than 30 pages. We silenced her narrative for what? So we would have time to read the books on the list. Books like The Great Gatsby, The Cacher in the Rye and The Crucible.
All I learned from the great gatsby is that women can't drive. And the fact thatDaisy Beucannon represents the perfect women just shines a green light on unrealistic standards for women. And gatsby needs to learn to take no for an answer.
The boy that sat next to me read for John proctor in the crucible just so he could call me a whore.
And one of my friends tried to convince me that Holden Caulfield was a feminist but I just shook my head remembering how he sat just in Stradlater's car while Stradlater raped a girl. And Holden said nothing he let it happen that doesn't sound like a feminist to me. And we didn't talk about that in class either.
Yes these books may be problematic but the real problematic part is that we don't talk about them.
And the boy that used to sit next to me in English now calls women whores on a regular basis and we say nothing about it because we said nothing about it in class. We are being trained to be silent while they are being fed sexism from a literary classic.
Senior year Madame Bovary, The Scarlet Letter and Anna Karenina where dumped into my lap and I asked my teacher if we could read books written by women.
And he said these books are about women but there written by men and I can tell by the way women are portrayed.
So I ask again why aren't we reading any books by women and he says you can take women's studies in college. But this isn't men's studies it's high school English so why have I only been assigned two books written by women and two is being generous it was more like one and thirty pages. And I don't think that's enough.
Because we were given book after book with pages written by men and words full of sexism. Words that we never talked about and I fear that if we are teaching books with undertones of misogyny but the misogyny is overlooked and not discussed then we are teaching students that this is just how the worlds is. And maybe it is but I don't think so. I think I exist in more than one book and thirty pages. I exist in more stories than I learned in the classroom. I exist and I won't be ignored because women have so many stories to tell And I want to read them all.
Topic(s) of this poem: stories, books, feminism, school, teacher, women
Form: Free Verse
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.