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,

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.

Feminist Book Group Starts Feb. 1

It is not news that women’s rights, dignity, opportunities, equality, and justice have precious little support in our culture, either from the law, from our families, and even from other women. The time has come to fix that. But before we can start to change things, we need to arm ourselves with the facts. The Women’s Committee of We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos is starting a reading and discussion group to learn more about and provide an opportunity to discuss women’s legal and cultural issues.

Starting on Friday, Feb. 1, the Feminist Book Group will meet on the first Friday of each month, from 5:15 to 7:00 p.m. in the program room at the West Tisbury Public Library. If you are not in the library when it closes at 5 p.m., you may enter the program room through a door off the porch on the right side of the building.

The book we’ll be discussing at the Feb. 1 meeting is Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Good and Mad examines the transformative power of women’s anger, including both historical perspective and insightful comments on today’s events. It has been chosen one of the best books of 2018 by the Washington Post, NPR, People, Esquire, Elle, and Wired (among others).  It is available at bookstores, at Amazon.com, through IndieBound (a community of independent local bookstores), and through the CLAMS system, both in book form and as a CD.

Upcoming titles will be posted on this website, so please sign up to “follow” and you won’t miss anything.

Women’s Winter Film Series 2018

Note: The 2018 Women’s Winter Film Series introduced and re-introduced some great films to Vineyard audiences. We think it was a success! It would not have beeen possible without the support of our wonderful island libraries. Thank you all so much.

For a (growing!) list of films by and about women, many of which are available for home viewing, see Films to Watch Out For.

Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m.
Oak Bluffs library

GTFO (Get the F*ck Out)
Through interviews with developers, journalists, and academics, this film looks at the challenges that women face in the video game industry and the ways in which the industry’s diversification has spawned clashes of values.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
Frida
Oscar-winning biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose self-portraits explored issues of race, sex, class, and postcolonialism in Mexican society. Salma Hayek, who stars in the title role, recently wrote a New York Times op-ed about her extensive harassment by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Thursday, Feb. 15, 4 p.m.
West Tisbury library
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
A vibrant documentary about the exhilarating, passionate, contentious early years (1966–1971) of the modern women’s movement.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Drawing on hours of autobiographical tapes, this documentary portrays Nina Simone, the brilliant, mercurial singer, pianist, and civil rights activist dubbed the “High Priestess of Soul.” Part of the Edgartown library’s Black History Month programming.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m.
Chilmark library
The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen
A window into the life of Angela Bowen, who grew up in inner-city Boston during the Jim Crow era, and went on to become a classical ballerina, a legendary dance teacher, a black lesbian feminist activist organizer, writer and professor.

Saturday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m.
West Tisbury library
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
The first feature documentary about the amazingly versatile poet, memoirist, activist, and playwright.

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Vineyard Haven library

To Keep the Light
Inspired by true stories, a lighthouse keeper’s wife struggles with her work and her sanity as she cares for her sick husband in 19th-century Maine. The astonishing Erica Fae wrote, directed, and stars in this acclaimed 2016 film.

Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
A Taste of Honey
In this 1961 British film directed by Tony Richardson, teenage Jo is thrown out of the house when her alcoholic mother remarries. After finding a room with a gay co-worker, Jo becomes pregnant by a black sailor — and the three manage to work it out. Then Jo’s mother shows up and things get complicated.

Poster designed by Max King