By June 12 2012
This is not a particularly revolutionary thesis, of course; reading is often seen as quintessentially empowering and freeing. But is it? Jack doesn't exactly ever try to prove the case. Still, in the course of providing an exhaustive history of women's reading from prehistory to the present, she does include many examples of moments when reading was directly linked to women's liberation. For instance, as she demonstrates, women readers have often replied to and rebutted misogynist writing. Particularly notable is the 16th century Venetian noblewoman Moderata Fonte, who, in response to one vicious male screed, acidly assured her fellow women that men "never tell the truth about anything. "
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suggestion that reading is in itself freeing? After all, isn't it possible that in certain times and at certain places reading might actually serve to control women rather than to free them? Tania Modleski, in her classic 1982 study Loving With a Vengeance, argued, for example, that Harlequin romances, Gothic romances, and soap operas addressed women's anxieties and concerns—not in the interest of freedom, but rather in the interest of reconciling them to their lot in patriarchy. "In Harlequin Romances," Modleski concludes, "the need of women to find meaning and pleasure in activities which are not wholly male-centered...is generally scoffed at."
Full story at The Atlantic