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What books did we "run into," en route to "seeing gender"...?

Anne Dalke's picture

These are the books we said have been important to us, in understanding gender (our own, and the way the world divvies up this category). What patterns can we see, taking our books (and our gender role models?), as a whole?


juliah's picture

On the first day of class,

On the first day of class, when we were asked to discuss a novel that helped sculpt our perceptions of gender, I was surprised by how daunting I found that task to be. The only works that came to mind were those of Jane Austen, which do little to reshape our perceptions of gender outside the binary. With more reflection, I turned to Jane Eyre, and while it is definitely one of my all-time favorites, I also find little in it to identify with. Clearly, I wasn’t alone in my struggle; looking back on the class list as a whole, there is a paucity of novels that venture outside typical perceptions of gender. There are many works listed with strong heroines, but almost all of those I recognize have the female lead still playing into patriarchal standards. Additionally, most of the “strong female” characters are qualified as “princess”, bringing up the idea that, in order for one to behave independently, one must first meet the standards of an ideal created (surprise) by the patriarchy! The novels geared toward females in childhood, not to mention the Disney “Princess” franchise, play into such archetypes, making it even more difficult for people to find a gender that represents them outside the birth-assigned binary.