Reading Group to Meet This Friday

Note from Feminist Reading Group facilitator Ellen Miller:

Just a reminder that our next meeting will be Friday, February 7, starting at 5:15 p.m. at the West Tisbury Free Public Library in the program room.

We will continue our discussion of the three books we are reading on suffrage:  The Women’s Suffrage Movement by Sally Roesch Wagner, Why They Marched by Susan Ware, and The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss, as well as short reports from members on topics of interest in regards to the suffrage movement.

P.S. from website admin Susanna J. Sturgis:

I reviewed both Woman’s Hour and Why They Marched on Goodreads and highly recommend them both. I’ve also been reading up on Matilda Joslyn Gage, a 19th-century suffragist whose writings – notably her Woman, Church & State – piqued my interest decades ago. The first general-interest (as opposed to scholarly) biography of her, Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist, appeared only in 2018. I reviewed that too. (Click the links to see the reviews.)

2020 is the centennial not only of the 19th Amendment but of the League of Women Voters. There are plans afoot to commemorate these events all year long. So watch this space for updates!

Reading Group to Focus on Suffrage

From Feminist Reading Group leader Ellen Miller:

There has been some confusion over how we pick books and what the purpose of the group is.  As an offshoot of the Women’s Committee of We Stand Together, our purpose is to inform ourselves about women’s issues and how to best effect change.  Members of this group choose topics for discussion and then determine which books are available on each subject both in the CLAMS system and for purchase before choosing which books we will be reading and discussing.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the US in 1920, we will take the next few months to learn the history of the women’s suffrage movement. Our first meeting of the centennial will be on Friday, January 3, at 5:15 p.m. at the West Tisbury library. Here is a short list of the books we recommend on this subject:

Our main selection is The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss, which traces 70 years of legal battles culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment.  There are many copies of this book in the CLAMS system (both in regular and large print format), and it is also available from local and online booksellers.

We also strongly recommend Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, by Susan Ware; and The Women’s Suffrage Movement, edited by Sally Roesch Wagner, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem, which presents two centuries of original historical texts with a focus on diversity and commentary by the editor. There are five copies of each of these in the CLAMS system, so reserve one now if you are interested.

Also recommended (but not as easily found) are Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J. D. Zahniser and Amelia Fry; Century of Struggle, by Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick;  and All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African-American Public Culture, 1830–1900, by Martha S. Jones.

In view of the coming holidays and the fact that The Woman’s Hour is over 400 pages long, I would expect that we will not all be able to finish reading it by our next meeting, which is on January 3.  But let’s start, and begin our discussion of the suffrage movement next month, and plan to continue in February.

Meanwhile wishing each of you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season, and a healthy and productive new year,

Women in Film Festival

The M.V. Film Society hosting a Women in Film Festival from Friday, October 25, to Sunday, October 27, at the M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven. It looks great!

The festival features six films made between 2017 and 2019, directed by and/or produced by women filmmakers and featuring women’s perspectives on an array of issues. For more information about the films, including trailers, click here. Festival passes are $60 ($50 for Film Society members), and can be bought here. Tickets are also available for individual films.

I Am Not a Witch (Friday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m.) is a magical-realist satire about a young girl sentenced to a state-run witch camp. Young star Margaret Mulubwa has received rave reviews for her performance.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Friday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.) marks the rediscovery of a pioneer filmmaker who had faded from sight by 1919 and has been largely forgotten. Writer-director-producer Pamela Green will be on hand for a Q&A after the film.

Sensitivity Training (Saturday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m.). Rude, crude, and unapologetic microbiologist Dr. Serena Wolfe is ordered to undergo an attitude adjustment courtesy of perpetually chipper sensitivity coach Caroline. The  two develop an unexpected bond in this “fresh and welcome spin on the classic buddy comedy.”

Paradise Hills (Saturday, Oct. 26, 8:15 p.m.). Paradise Hills is a facility, run by the mysterious Duchess, where high-class families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. “With exquisite sets and costumes and a bounty of strong actresses, Paradise Hills is a fantasy confection with a dark horror center.”

A Fine Line (Sunday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m.). A behind-the-scenes look at restaurant culture with women at the helm, exploring why fewer than 7% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women. A conversation after the film will be led by Jan Buhrman of the Vineyard’s Kitchen Porch.

Atlantique [Atlantics] (Sunday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m.) This drama about young lovers separated by circumstance in Senegal won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Says BBC.com: “Dreamy yet sensual, fantastical yet rooted in uncomfortable facts, [Mati] Diop’s beguiling film may even have reinvented a genre.”

Feminist Book Group to Meet Nov. 1

book coverFor the November 1 meeting the first book we will be discussing is Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist.  By the historian and author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Kendi’s new book offers specific suggestions and strategies for how to start to fix this scourge of American daily life.

The second book is Jen Deaderick’s She the People: A Graphic History of Uprisings, Breakdowns, Setbacks, Revolts, and Enduring Hope on the Unfinished Road to Women’s Equality. This is an illustrated, accurate, and sometimes tongue-in-cheeky overview of U.S. women’s history since 1776.  As the publisher notes, the book “highlight[s] changes in the legal status of women alongside the significant cultural and social influences of the time, so women’s history is revealed as an integral part of U.S. history, and not a tangential sideline.”

Both books are available through the CLAMS regional library network (there are only a few copies of She the People, however). They can be bought through online retailers or local bookstores.

We will continue to meet in the program room at the West Tisbury Public Library at 5:15 on the first Friday of every month. If you get to the library after they close at 5 p.m., come around to the porch in back on the right side and knock on the program room door. Refreshments will be served, and you are welcome to bring something to share.

Future meetings will continue to explore feminist topics through a variety of suggested readings so that you can choose which books interest you.  Feel free to leave your suggestions here in the comments section or use the handy comment form.

Hope to see you on November 1!

Ellen Miller, book group moderator

The Feminist Book Group Is Back!

From Feminist Book Group coordinator Ellen Miller:

September has flown by! Our October meeting will be on Friday, October 4, 2019, at the West Tisbury Free Public Library in the main floor program room starting at 5:15 p.m. If you get to the library after they close at 5 p.m., come around the building on the right and come in the door from the porch. Snacks will be provided, and you are welcome to bring something to share.

Please bring your suggestions for nonfiction books we can read together. Several of us want to explore racism in further depth. In addition to the books we have read and/or recommended so far, two works to consider are Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an AntiRacist, both by Ibram X. Kendi.

Book Group Meets on May 3

By Ellen Mller
Moderator, Feminist Book Group

At the next meeting of the Feminist Book Group, we will continue our exploration of racism in the U.S. The meeting is on Friday, May 3, at 5:15 p.m. in the West Tisbury Public Library, and all are welcome. (We meet on the first Friday of every month.)

For more about the group, see this introductory post. The books we had originally suggested on this subject are

  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

In addition some of us are reading

  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Women, Race and Class, by Angela Y. Davis.
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown
  • This Will Be My Undoing, by Morgan Jerkins

Please read whatever appeals to you according to your life experience and interests. We had a wonderful discussion last month with a surprising amount of laughter considering the serious nature of the topic. Thank you to all of the 17 people who showed up and participated!

If you have not been to one of our meetings before, note that if you do not get to the library before it closes at 5 p.m., you need to enter through the program room door, which is off the porch in the back on the right side of the building. If you would like to bring a snack please do so, and bring any women friends you think might be interested, as well as your ideas for topics and books to read. (In choosing books to read as a group, we need to make sure they are still in print and readily available both through the library system and for purchase.)

Our mission is to inform ourselves about the history, legal, economic, and cultural issues confronting women today (particularly here in Massachusetts and on Martha’s Vineyard), and then to figure out how we can help effect change.

Book Group to Focus on Race & Racism

By Ellen Miller
Moderator, Feminist Book Group

The books chosen for April are on the topic of racism and how it impacts women in our culture. The first book we will discuss is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Recently on the NY Times best-seller list, Oluo has written a personal and balanced and brutally honest book in which she presents complicated situations in a way which makes them seem simple.  It is brilliant in its insights, plus she uses humor to help us understand things which are really not very funny.   Depending on your experience with racism, you are also encouraged to read Waking Up White by Debby Irving, and  White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.

The April meeting will be on Friday, April 5, at the West Tisbury Free Public Library starting at 5:15 p.m. If you do not get to the library before they close the front doors at 5 p.m., come in the program room door which is off the porch in the back on the right side of the building. If you would like to bring a snack please do so, and bring any women friends you think might be interested, as well as your ideas for topics and books to read.

There seems to be some confusion as to what the book group is all about. We are a project of the Women’s Committee of We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos, although you don’t need to be affiliated either one to participate in the book group. Susanna Sturgis put together a film festival of women’s films last year.  Five of the six Island libraries hosted at least one film, and they were great. The Women’s Committee also compiled a list of recommended films mostly by and always about women.

Partly out of that experience we decided to put together a book group. Our mission is both to inform ourselves about the history of the women’s movements in the U.S., and about legal and economic and cultural issues confronting women in our country today (particularly here in Massachusetts and on Martha’s Vineyard), and then to figure out how we can help effect change.

Although there are hundreds of wonderful books about women’s lives, fiction and nonfiction, novels and biographies (all of which I will include on the book list as you recommend them to me), the focus of the group needs to be on books from which we can gain insights into particular issues confronting women in our culture.  In addition, in choosing books to read as a group we need to make sure they are still in print and readily available both through the library system and for purchase.

We are certainly interested in suggestions both for books and for topics. Just to give you a heads up, the topic for May will be the history of the women’s movement in the U.S. If you have a particular resource you want to read (or have read), please let me know and we will try to find it.