Feminist Sundays is a weekly meme created at Books and Reviews. The aim is simply to have a place and a time to talk about feminism and women’s issues. This is a place of tolerance, creativity, discussion, criticism and praise. Remember to keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although healthy discussion is encouraged.
Today, I wanted to do something different for our Feminist Sundays. English author Elizabeth Jane Howard died this week and, although quite an underrated and overlooked writer, the newspapers and tabloids saved a little space for her. This is an example:
It’s 2014. I really, really hoped to see a change, a little change in society. Yet, an English paper still insists on defining a woman by who she had a romantic and sexual relationship with while men are defined by themselves, by their work. Had Elizabeth Jane Howard been a man, there would not be any mention, or maybe a tiny one at the end of the article, of their partner. And, just to prove how ridiculous it is, let’s change the article’s title and image it was Kingsley Amis who had died. What about: “Husband of Elizabeth Jane Howard died”? It is unthinkable and mostly impossible to find such a headline, but, when a woman dies, her husband and/or children appear in the first lines. And it makes me angry. Just yesterday I was reading a book on the patriarchy and defining women by who they engage in sexual intercourse, since it also considered the case of concubines, dates back to Mesopotamian times, but it is 2014 and it is necessary that we change this. Also, Elizabeth Jane Howard had two husbands previous to Amis and many works published as well. So, why was it necessary to name her husband and step-son?
I am currently reading The Cazalet Chronicles: The Light Years and it is a wonderful, inspiring and masterful work. It is the perfect mix between Mrs. Dalloway and Downton Abbey and Howard explores the unthinkable, the unmentionable for the women and men living in the 1930’s: the curse, getting an abortion, doing anything to please your husband because your mother told you that was the way it worked, unpleasant and forced relationships. And yet, her work is overlooked and underrated.
Here it is to Elizabeth Jane Howard. An amazing and inspiring writer on her own right.