Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 4th: Reading (as if) without Feminism, (as if) without Gender (Read: "As If Without Women")

Too much is going on not to blog (and I have some time today, and today only perhaps).

Many of us are re-reading The Declaration of Independence of the USA on its 233rd anniversary this month. Rhetorician Stephen Lucas suggests that "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" (page 85) is from this text of the Declaration. That sentence is as follows:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I suggest that this sentence is also one of the most translated English sentences. So what?

So what? Translators and paraphrasers may open up the second meanings in the first (male only) text. Perhaps one of the most radical renderings of this sentence (of the Declaration) is the one in another Declaration of another July in the USA. It reads:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

And yet rhetoricians Joy Ritchie and Kate Ronald suggest that "It is a line that does not seem so radical today but it shook the foundations of the U.S. government in 1848" (page 138).

Now, I'm asking:

If it doesn't seem so radical today, then

>why does Rebecca Honig Friedman seem so content that there are "only a few books by women on the list" of the best 50 books of Newsweek magazine recommendation today for "What to Read Now. And Why"? Only a few - count them yourself. Only a few. Why?

>why do Peter W. Bernstein and Annalyn Swan include so few books by women writers in their "Newsweek's Top 100 Books: The Meta-List"? So few - count them yourself. So few. Why?

>why in Bedford, Texas USA today so close to where I live, why is "Women's Ordination" in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) only, and only just now, "A Crack in the Cathedral"? Why is that a mere question"?" - a subtitle in the blog post article today by Katelyn Beaty?

What if it were to seem radical to us today right here and right now? What if always and for a long, long time now, the most-read texts actually included women as much as they include God and are included by their Creator?