With a modicum of trepidation, I joined a book club today. Edgy, right? Even though it’s called the Real Simple No Obligation Book Club, I have my doubts about committing to read a book that I may not like. There are so many books I want to read and so little time to devote to pleasure reading, that I hesitated to jump in. But, I like Real Simple magazine, the Kindle download for the November selection is free, and then there’s that “no obligation” clause, so away I go.
The first book I’ll tackle is The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Written in 1899, this book is often cited as an early benchmark work of feminism. Upon this discovery, my thoughts immediately turned to Gloria Steinem, another hero/heroine of feminism who spoke at Wichita State University in 1972 when I was a freshman. Having been reared in the Bible Belt and in a Christian family, I was shocked at Ms Steinem’s casual and frequent use of crude language. I determined that she resorted to foul talk for shock value, and I discounted her message because of it. I believe that I would still come to the same conclusion forty years later, even though I’ve been around the block several times since then.
Today, the feminist ideals that endeavored to elevate the status of women have given way to the denigration of women in popular music and movies with the tacit approval of women themselves. The message is absurdly contradictory. The topic of feminism is sure to come up in the on-line discussion of this book, and I’m not sure I will take the time to contribute. I tend to approach life with a healthy dose of cynicism–not the dour, all-is-lost type, but the consider-the-motive type who must evaluate the back story of what I am confronted with. So, I recognize my predisposition to dismiss reading and contributing to the on-line discussion of The Awakening, but I have decided to give it an honest effort. (Note that I don’t say I will approach it with an open mind. I don’t believe that anyone can actually be neutral; we are all shaped by our biases.) It should be interesting to view Ms Chopin’s 1899 motives through my nearly sixty-year-old lenses.