Between the lines of every history book is an untold story. Those stories belong to the women history has forgotten. The rise of feminism challenges the idea that women did not shape history and that the past belongs only to men’s accomplishments. This begs the question, is it possible for women to read literature without adopting a militant, feminist position?

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To any who identify as a feminist, this statement immediately provokes such a position, if only to be impudent. When the modern movement of feminism was born in 1963 with the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Frieden, a challenge was issued (57a. Modern). A challenge against the belief that women were meant to only be wives and mothers and nothing more. The phrasing of the question stated suggests to women that feminism is wrong. With the word militant having a negative connotation, it implies that there is no other feminist position to be taken that is not considered radical and confrontational.

However, the possibility of women reading literature without adopting such a position depends on their personal beliefs and whether they identify as a feminist. To some, the word feminist is radical and extreme and does not have any forms other than militant. According to a poll by YouGov in 2016, approximately two-thirds of women do not identify themselves as feminists, with reasons ranging from the extremity of feminism to the belief that men and women are not equal (Moore). Additionally, the subject of the literature being read is an important factor in the way it is perceived.

The likelihood of women reading literature without adopting a militant, feminist position is high, given the high percentage of women who do not identify as feminists and the possibility of some feminists choosing a much less extreme stance.

Works Cited

  • “57a. Modern Feminism.” U.S. History, Independence Hall Association, 2016, www.ushistory.org/us/57a.asp. Accessed 13 Jan. 2017.

  • Moore, Peter. “Less than a third of women are feminists.” YouGov, 23 Feb. 2016, today.yougov.com/news/2016/02/23/less-than-third-women-feminists/. Accessed 13 Jan. 2017.