After reading How to Think Like a Woman by Regan Penaluna, I am left wondering: How many women authors, especially philosophers, have been forgotten or completely lost to history? Why? And are we giving more credence to our modern-day women authors and philosophers than we have in the past? Why or why not?
I love reading works about obscure and overlooked women, especially women thinkers and authors. I have devoured books by Marie Benedict, who regularly writes novels about women who have been pivotal in shaping history yet are still woefully overlooked in history. I still talk about books like The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus months after I’ve read them. And I love talking about Hannah Arendt’s and Mary Wollstonecraft’s and Toni Morrison’s philosophies and literature, if and when anyone ever wants to listen and talk about them, which isn’t very often.
But I can’t help feeling like there are too many women authors and thinkers out there who are still overlooked, and that I’m sometimes on an island by myself in caring about them and what they’ve written.
Even during my graduate studies, we never covered women philosophers and authors in-depth, outside of their thoughts and theories on “womanhood” or “motherhood.” It is true that outside of “feminist” courses and theories, women authors and philosophers are not included in any sort of canon, and are not widely considered as being important thinkers. And this is certainly not because they didn’t or don’t currently exist as serious thinkers.
I just can’t stop wondering how and when I will be able to learn about women authors and thinkers now, outside of their womanhood. Will there ever be a day when a woman’s thoughts are considered first before anything else about her is? Is it possible or desirable to consider a woman’s thoughts with no regard to her marital, maternity, or caregiving status? Why don’t more people read and regard more women’s thoughts on science, current affairs, politics, philosophy, etc.?
I would like to think that books full of women’s thoughts and narratives could and will be a great equalizer, that such books offer women a chance to have their ideas read and considered before readers see a picture of them. But who is or will be the gatekeepers of those books? Who ultimately decides which thoughts of a woman are worth reading and writing about? And which thoughts and works get lost forever? Why?
I clearly have more questions than answers at the moment. But it’s important for everyone to reflect on women authors and what gets published, read, and discussed by them. And, more importantly, why. Especially now.
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