The Bluestockings

The only thing I could think of when I saw that Bryan and Amanda were doing their presentation on the Bluestockings was a movie that Dr. Maier showed us in ENGL 2102 a few years ago.  I have no idea what the name of the film is, or even who was in it (I’ve been through two additional years of school and had a baby since then…I don’t think I could tell you anything more about the film if my life depended on it)…but it was my first exposure to the Bluestockings and I remember really enjoying it and wanting to know more.

I really enjoyed Bryan and Amanda’s presentation on the Bluestockings (who wouldn’t??  FREE PRIZES to be had by all!!).  Hearing about the society really got me thinking.  It must have been so uplifting and ‘freeing’ for the women who were a part of this club to be able to freely discuss pertinent issues other than petty gossip, the weather and ‘proper’ female talk. Add educated men into the club and to the discussions…it must have been mind blowing at the time for people not involved in this society to understand the concept of these gatherings.  I like the fact that the club was initiated by women, and eventually it was these women who invited their male friends to join them.  I think it speaks wonders about the characters of the men involved in the club – the fact that they would respect and consider the literary opinion of these women really shows how far women writers had progressed over the years up until that point.  I know that this is something that we would take for granted on any given day in our present day lives, we – as women – can freely attend university, we can become political leaders, we can even run high stakes companies, all the while raising families and maintaining our households.  I feel as though we should give credit to the Bluestockings, for creating such a monumental shift in the presence of female opinion and for creating such a push to have their/our ‘learned’ voices heard.

This topic also made me think about things such as current day ‘book clubs’.  I’m personally not a part of one (who has time to read anything but text books when you’re in school…) but many of my friends are.  The concept is somewhat similar to what the Bluestockings did, but it’s as though modern day book clubs have taken a few steps back in the opposite direction of the Bluestockings.  I can’t think of any men included in these book clubs even though the literature they read includes all genres, and they tend to stay far away from your typical ‘chick lit’.   One day last summer I went to a book club meeting with a friend, to see what all the hype was about.  They discussed the book thoroughly for a solid 30 minutes, and then the gossiping and wine drinking began.  Thinking back on that night now, it makes me feel a bit of shame for what has become of us.  We don’t appreciate the freedom of voice and expression our female ancestors fought so hard to obtain for us.  Yes, times have changed and perhaps the tea drinking phenomena of eighteenth century England is the new wine drinking rage of our present day…I don’t know.  We’ll leave that one for the jury to decide. I just can’t help but think that women such as Elizabeth Montagu and Elizabeth Vesey would shake their head in disapproval if they were to witness what has become of their hard work.

 

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