Feminist Book Club: A Safe Space for Open Discussion
Led by Brooke Wagner of the sociology department, the Feminist Book Club was off to a start last Friday. An intimate crowd of 11 sat in a circle, united by a common interest in feminist literature.
Beginning with introductions, the conversation soon delved into a discussion on the vast array of feminist literary work, from fiction to theory.
Suggestions for the club’s first step into women’s literature ranged from the in-depth insights of Kate Millett’s “Sexual Politics” to the dystopian fantasy of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
So what specifically makes the book club feminist? Wagner explained that even though the club is all-inclusive.
“We want it to be a safe space for women to talk about books. The books that we’re reading…inspire women and talk about their experiences.”
As members of the group gave their own reasons for their interest in the subject, it became clear that conversations to come would be deeply personal and enriching; the discourse could be a positive experience even for men, as stated by Joey Sechrist, ‘18.
“Men do need feminism,” he said.
A conversation soon arose over a selection from Jo Freeman’s “BITCH Manifesto,” offering a sample of what the group had to offer for members.
The piece resonated with a number of the club’s members, who discussed Freeman’s takedown of restrictive gender roles and its effect on women’s aspirations. Even for a piece that was written in 1969, it felt refreshingly relevant to the present day.
Topics of discussion were far from shallow and reflected a range of opinions and philosophies from the members. Each member listened intently to the thoughts and experiences of the others, offering feedback or words of solidarity. Encouragement was abundant and given freely.
“I am not ashamed to say I’m a feminist,” Irene Torres, ‘20, said.
Wagner expressed that her intention for the group is for each member to “embrace [their] inner bitchhood,” and find the piece of themselves that can reject negative stereotypes and shape their own identities through the empowering lens of feminism.
The Feminist Book Club’s meetings take place in Founders Pub on the second Friday of each month, from 5 to 6 p.m. The group’s first selected reading is currently yet to be chosen. For further information, contact Brooke Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org.