On Feb. 4, the Long Branch Book Club met to discuss the Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes, a novel about the Kentucky Pack-Horse Library in the 1930s. We all loved this book and the well-defined characters. In the Giver of Stars, women were called upon and paid by First Lady Eleonore Roosevelt to ride horses into the country side to deliver and pick up library books. The men of the community grumbled and one in particular rallied against this noble effort, accusing the mobile librarians of corrupting women. The men wanted women to know their place, while the women wanted to grow, learn and live their own lives. We found the historical aspects fascinating. Our discussion focused on how far women’s independence has come and how much further we still need to go.
Today, we are our own person, but even as late as the 1970s, women were second to their husbands or fathers. My grandmother, in the mid 70s, inherited duplex apartments from her mother. She couldn’t change the deed to just her name. She, by law, had to include her husband’s name and this was in California.
A mere 10 years ago, the restaurant where I worked paid their female cook two dollars less an hour than a new hire, because he supported two kids while she was a grandmother.
We all agreed we want equality between the sexes, but we admit sometimes a man is better at some things and we’re better at others. It’s about partnership, not dominance.
I’ve always thought of myself as a strong-willed, independent woman, but when I lost my husband two years ago, I realized how much I depended on him to make sure everything was always OK. He was good at that, better than me who has always either been a bartender or a food server. He also won most of our disagreements. He should have been a lawyer. For months after I lost him, I do something he hadn’t wanted and shout, “I won that argument.” But I miss him. He was dominant on some things and I was on others. We had a great partnership of 25 years, but now I’m on my own again. I’m in full charge and I’m not sure I like it. I can’t fill his shoes. I can only try to keep walking in mine.
All the members of the Book Club agreed we are just as good as men and they’re just as good as us, but not at everything. Things work out best when we work together and are fair to each other. That’s where the women’s movement needs to go next, expecting and being fair.
On Monday, March 2 the Long Branch Book Club will meet at the Robert Lee Brothers Jr. Memorial Library at 5:30 pm located at 301 St Joseph St, Gonzales, Texas 78629 to discuss the Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.