One of the greatest feminist writers in the world, Marilyn French, died on May 2. Her book, “The Women’s Room” changed a number of lives, particularly those of female baby boomers.
I remember that book sitting on my mother’s nightstand, dog eared and battered from it having been read a number of times. Women all over the world read it a number of times. I read it a number of times.
The New York Times so eloquently remembers Ms. French:
With steely views about the treatment of woman and a gift for expressing them on the printed page, Ms. French transformed herself from an academic who quietly bristled at the expectations of married women in the post-World War II era to a leading, if controversial, opinionmaker on gender issues who decried the patriarchal society she saw around her. “My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world,” she once declared.
And I truly believe she somewhat succeeded. At least in changing minds along with the status quo.
When I was growing up, my mother would tell me that I could do anything, that no one could tell me I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl, something that she was often told in her youth. My mother was one of the strongest women I have ever known. She encouraged her daughter to stand up for herself and to make herself heard. To believe in herself.
I truly hope I did my mother proud in that respect. And Marilyn French for that matter.
Farewell Marilyn. Rest in Peace.
And Mommy, thank you. I miss you very much.