New Series: Books That Made Me a Young Feminist, Anne of Green Gables

Good morning, dearies. This morning I’ve got a bookish editorial for you which will begin a series, the finalized 2017 Reading List for the Blessed Bookworm Reads Book Club, and a Halloween printable will be added to the Subscriber’s Library today at 5pm MST. Happy Friday, indeed!

Blessed Bookworm Series: Books That Made Me A Young Feminist, Anne of Green Gables

Today I wanted to begin a special series on some of the books that helped build and encourage the early feminist principles I came to know and love as a pre-teen and young woman that were then nurtured throughout the years to make me a proud feminist today. That’s right – I’m joining the movement to reclaim that word. I won’t be told it’s negative any longer and what’s more: my son’s will be raised to be feminists as well. Today I'm starting with a much beloved story, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Anne of Green Gables

I re-read Anne last summer and it was just as wonderful as I remembered it being when I was 11 years old. Anne struggles with herself throughout the story but as an adult I can now recognize how brilliant her character really is. She’s girly and it’s okay. Lucy Maud Montgomery gave us such a gift with that. We don’t have to choose, ladies. I can be a girl that’s obsessed with fashion and makeup just as easily as I can be a girl who is obsessed with books, sports, science, or anything else I so choose. I can be a working mom or I can be a stay at home mom. I can do whatever I want. Below I want to explain what it was about this sweet, coming of age story that began my journey towards feminism.

Anne deeply values female friendships. Her bosom buddy, Diana Barry, is her most prized relationship. My best friend and I have always referred to each other as our soul mate. Montgomery’s term “kindred spirit” falls along the same lines. She doesn’t get catty with other women or try to undercut their existence. In fact, her biggest confrontations with women are when she stands up for dignity and refuses to shrink herself to exist within someone else’s expectations.

She does not hide her intellectual capabilities but instead fiercely embraces them and goes head to head with everyone in her class including the top male student. In a world where women are repeatedly taught that men are somehow inherently smarter, Anne stands firm proudly sharing her intelligence. Further encouragement comes from outside support when Marilla (the adoptive mother for Anne) says one of the most wonderful things in the book to Anne, “When Matthew and I took you to bring up we resolved we would do the best we could for you and give you a good education. I believe in a girl being fitted to earn her own living whether she ever has to or not.” In a time where women’s attendance at a college was a rarity, Anne proudly succeeds in winning acceptance and going forth into that new world independently and working to become a teacher (i.e. a working woman).

She does not keep her mouth shut. Much to her own detriment a lot of the time, Anne can’t find a way to exist without sharing her opinions and feelings. From the very first wagon ride from the train station with Matthew Cuthbert she talks incessantly and he almost immediately finds comfort in listening to her ramblings rather than trying to “Shhh” her like so many others do. He allows her to live within herself without placing any restrictions on her behavior. Only every asking that she be a good girl. Which I think we can all respect as a perfectly fine hope from any parent for their child regardless of gender. Almost humorously, Anne can’t and won’t keep her thoughts to herself and refuses to file things away under a feminine and demure existence. Despite the trouble it sometimes gets her in, at least she always knows she spoke her piece.

At the end of the day, Anne Shirley isn’t a firm and outspoken feminist like we might think of for formative feminist role models. But she’s perfect for a young girl who needs to be reminded at the precipice of puberty that she’s just as good as the boys, that being smart is a wonderful thing, and that no one can place limits on your success but yourself. I’ll forever love Anne Shirley and all that L.M. Montgomery gave to me by writing her into existence.