So I’m reading this awesome book to my child, one that’s about a successful female (love these books!). And there’s this one page where they talk about how she became the best/smartest student at her university. And my daughter notices something, and I notice another. My daughter notices that the image behind those words is of the woman holding a notebook, smiling, and two men looking upon her frowning. My child asks why the men are frowning. I presume they’re frowning because they’re jealous the woman is smarter than them? What do you say?
The other thing I noticed is that her notebook has her initials on them. But they’re the wrong initials. Because at this point she isn’t married, but the initials are those of her married surname not her maiden surname (I checked they don’t start with the same letter).
On another page, there is news of some discoveries the female figure and her spouse have made. Instead of showing a lab or some other things that would help the reader understand what those discoveries are, as scientific discoveries, the image is of the woman hugging her husband. Really? I mean …. I am sure they hugged when happy, but as a reader, wouldn’t it be also useful to learn more about those scientific discoveries and appreciate their value? Or something? Showing human love is valuable, I really think so, but shouldn’t we also show like the image that relates to the subject of the page?
In a couple of different pages where this wonderful woman receives awards, there is so much emphasis on how her husband is clapping for her in the audience of one page, but how there is an empty seat in the other one (because he’s dead by then). Of course it matters that her husband supported her. But I (almost) don’t ever see the opposite happening – where a man’s success story is told with a heavy emphasis on the role of his wife (or mom, even) in supporting him and how her presence or absence mattered, or how they celebrated when he made a discovery or such. Thinking about this a little more… I can think of a few country presidents (Obama, Clinton, Sadat) whose wives seemed prominent, but I think it’s more about the strength of the woman that compels people to notice her role. I don’t know.
Perhaps I’m being too picky. But I do think it’s telling that my daughter noticed the frowning men’s faces.. And she strongly noticed the absence of the woman’s husband in the second half of the book.
And these are just a few tiny ways that a feminist book can be imperfect. It is an otherwise lovely book…