I have been really under the weather the last week or so and I just needed to give my brain a break. So in addition to my SAHM duties, I have delved into my favorite feel-better-period drams that usually are inspired from Jane Austen novels (i.e. neglecting my writing). Now I didn’t watch all of these, but easily, I can tell you that at any time I could pop in Pride and Prejudice (BBC version or the one with Kiera Knightley), Becoming Jane, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Emma, Vanity Fair… etc. It’s a sickness in itself. I have a deep devotion and love for those stories.
While I watched those movies, I began reflecting on the novels they are inspired from that I also love. And what I began to discover is a love for the stories and the characters, yes. But more than that, I love the social commentary they provide. Most of my favorites were written by women and the issues that are pervasive throughout their novels are the notions that women were second-class citizens, deemed to have value only if they married and married well. I really believe that’s why these stories have such staying power so many years later. While we have made great strides as women in modern society, we are still less than our male counterparts. Particularly here in the U.S. when you consider the gender pay gap, the deplorable situation surrounding paternal leave and family care, the constant attack on women’s healthcare, and the constant objectification of the female body, it is clear to see that we still have a long way to go.
During the time most of these women were writing, it was a highly frowned upon profession. What could women possibly have to say of value or contribute to the writing craft? Despite the lack of support, these women crafted some of the most regarded works in the literary canon. And what did they write? Women’s stories. That’s right. Mere women writing about mere women has become some of the most exemplary texts that is studied every year at universities across the country.
Sometimes I feel like my vision and purpose is small and insignificant. I just want to tell stories. My stories. Women’s stories. I want to see an open venue that discusses women’s issues with passion and concern. Now, I don’t think I will turn into the next Brontë or Austen. But, following the vein that they inhabited and excelled in, surely can’t be a bad place to be.