Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebrating Our Foremothers: Kate Chopin

When I try to think back to the start of my involvement in feminism, ages ago that it was, I think that it had something to do with reading Kate Chopin's The Awakening in 10th grade. I have memories of a sort of revelation occuring. I'm not sure if the sky opened up, or if there were choirs of sweet feminists singing, but it certainly is my first memory of reading something that really got me thinking about what women's role was in society and how that pressure affects women's lives.

Now, the 4th of July is in a few days, and instead of celebrating George Washington and the "forefathers" of our country, I'd like to celebrate a woman that ignited a desire in me to fight back against what I think is unfair and wrong.

Kate Chopin, born in St. Louis in 1850, spent most of her life in Louisiana and that culture informed most of her work. Chopin's earlier work was well-recieved, but The Awakening, though beloved by myself and countless other feminists, essentially destroyed her career. Chopin shocked the "respectable" world with her "vulgar" story of a woman who broke out of her loveless and sad marriage to pursue her own desires. She died in 1904, and her work regained popularity after her death.

So, in honor of a wonderful woman writer who dared to write about topics that were considered inappropriate at the time, let's all dust of our copies of The Awakening, or the collected stories of Chopin in my case, and take some time to celebrate someone who sparked a feminist fire in at least one women.


Danielle said...

I'm rereading Mrs. Dalloway this week!

Lauren said...

..."choirs of sweet feminists singing"???? You are something else.