David Gilmour thinks he doesn’t have a sexist or racist bone in his body but he also doesn’t think there are any women writers worth including in his Literature class syllabus. Except for Virginia Woolf, but only one of her short stories passes muster. According to him – there are no great women writers and he told a student who asked him why he doesn’t include women authors in his syllabus that he doesn’t believe in “good for you” literature. He tries to soften the condescending assholery by explaining that it’s just that he doesn’t love any women authors enough to teach them, he will only teach authors he truly loves. His way of trying to say “It’s not you, it’s ME” when we all know that when someone says that it always means IT’S REALLY YOU. He claims that most of his students are women and they come to him for the manly literature experience and that if anyone wants something else they can get it “down the hall” from other teachers. What Gilmour really likes in an author is a real hard edge, a real hard to stomach TRUTH, like men eating menstrual pads – that kind of raw power is what he admires.
It is glaringly obvious to me that Gilmour doesn’t actually READ any literature by women. You want gut wrenching truth? Alice Walker delivers it. Incest and cruelty abound and the writing is immediate and personal and gorgeous. (But no menstrual-pad eating.) You want edgy hard literature that is stark with not a single soft bit in it where every word eats away at your spirit? Carson McCullers delivers it in her books about sad dusty little towns full of really twisted lives. You want books full of manly arrogance and political dogma? Ayn Rand delivers it. I personally find Rand to be a stupid windbag and couldn’t get through the first couple of chapters before giving up – I include her because she is well respected as a literary writer and a lot of people – a lot of men – love her.
The more David Gilmour tries to explain how his totally sexist views aren’t actually sexist the worse he sounds and the more bigoted I understand him to be. I think it’s time he shuts up and reads some women authors.
Here is a small list of well respected important women authors who have contributed a great deal to the reading landscape. It is not even remotely all-inclusive. There are many more and this doesn’t even include some of the greatest genre writers whose writing quality is literary. It’s just 23 women authors who I believe deserve to be covered in any general literature class.
Great Literature Written by Women:
- Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
- Carson McCullers – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- Gertrude Stein – The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
- Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Flannery O’Connor – A Good Man is Hard to Find
- Edith Wharton – The Age of Innocence
- Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
- George Elliot – Middlemarch
- Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca
- Sylvia Plath – The Bell jar
- Betty Smith – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
- Margaret Mitchell – Gone With the Wind
- Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible
- Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
- Alice Walker – The Color Purple
- Willa Cather – My Antonia
- Anne Lamott – Crooked Little Hearts
- Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Yearling
- Toni Morrison – Beloved
- Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
- Colleen McCullough – The Thorn Birds
- Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead
- Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine