Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

Category: Herstory

Start a Film Club for Women in your Community, your Neighborhood, or just with a few Friends. I did!

About ten years ago, my husband and I moved to a ’55 and older’ community—we had satisfied that requirement some years earlier. Everything was new from our house to the clubhouse; in fact, the community was less than half built and the sounds of construction were all around us, but we were more than ready for a new home on one floor in a gated community, sitting on a hill overlooking New York City.  Sounds nice?  It is.

One day, early on, relaxing at the Clubhouse with that view and the leisure director, I sighed and suggested that maybe it would be nice to start a Koffee Klatch for women and watch a film about women and discuss it.  “I”, I said, had collected a few women’s films, or—as men like to say, ‘Chick Flicks’—that were really good and worthy of such an endeavor.

While I endeavored to tell her why I had collected some worthy women’s films she flitted off, and by the time I got home, I had an e-mail that had gone out to all residents announcing the beginning of a Film Club for Women. It was after Christmas because I remember that I took some left-over Christmas cookies to have with coffee to that first film.  At our second film and more left-over cookies, another women’s film fan said to me, “Don’t worry about next month, Jean. I’m picking up bagels!”

And that’s how it all began!

We had 8 to 10 women show up for that first film. Ten years later, we have over 150 members and have seen over 100 films focused on women and women issues.  We meet at 9am on the 1st Wednesday of every month and begin with a Coffee and . . . which is now more like a Continental Breakfast with fruit, bagel and pastry.  The chatter and laughter over coffee make life good, and I even feel a bit guilty when I have to break it up to watch the film, but only a bit because I know that they enjoy the discussion after the film as much as they do the chatter before.

SO, if you’re part of a community, believe me, ‘if you start it, they will come’ or if you like to get together with your friends and don’t have time to read a book every month, DO FILMS, GOOD WOMEN’S FILMS.  Write me if you have questions or stop by for film ideas and discussion questions.  And remember–HAVE FUN!!! 


Congrats to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland . . .

who has served longer than any other woman in the US Senate!!! She’s been there 35 years. When she arrived, there was only one other woman there. Do you know who? I don’t, I’m going to have to look her up.

Now there are 17 women in the US Senate. I LIKE THAT!!!


French Women Writers I Know

I have a VERY Francophile Friend, and once in awhile. when I’m in a snit, I take her on.  I’ll admit that I took a sadistic pleasure several years ago when there was so much anti-French feeling that we  were eating Liberty Fries. At the same time, however, when a woman at the deli counter loudly announced, “I don’t buy anything French!”  I, almost as loudly, ordered a pound of French Ham.

But, getting to the point, last week, I told my friend about a Blog I had just read on Colette and one of her books and she, right away, ordered the book and even a CD of it in French. At the time. I was in one of my snits so I announced, “I don’t like French women writers!” She responded, “You haven’t read any!”   She had me!

George Sand

So, I googled French Women Writers.  Can you believe how many there are?  I was amazed too!  However, before I got there, I realized that I knew three, two intimately.  The first, George Sand, I had met because of the composer Frederic  Chopin–she was his lover and she liked to walk around in fancy men’s clothes.  I’ve never read her so I don’t think she counts.

The second, Christine de Pisan, I have already written about in my work, Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book, but Christine was actually born in Italy to Italian parents, who moved to France when her father was appointed astrologer to King Charles the Wise.  I look at her as a moot point.

Simone de Beauvoir

The third,  Simone de Beauvoir, was pure French, born in Paris and educated in French schools, including the Sorbonne.  I met her in  a graduate course in Existentialism, where  I was required to write a paper on her book/essay “The Ethics of Ambiguity“.  In it, she develops an Ethics for Existential thought which she shared with her lifetime lover and intellectual companion,  Jean Paul Sartre.  (Did you know that Sartre was not quite five feet tall?  Obviously, height has nothing to do with intellect.)

She is probably best known for her feminist writing; especially The Second Sex which is a foundation for modern feminism.  In its introduction she writes,  “woman has always been man’s dependent, if not his slave;  the two sexes have never shared the world in equality.”  That was a strong statement for 1949.

It struck me while writing this, that of the two French Women Writers I know–the pseudo-Christine and the bona-fide Simone–both were feminists.  Christine de Pisan/Pizan/Pissano) is considered the first feminist writer for her contribution to women of her day in The City of Ladies , and Simone de Beauvoir is considered the pre-cursor to major feminist writers of the last half of the 20th century.  Not bad for French women writers–and that’s only the two I know.

Oh, by the way, I got an A+ on that graduate paper–even got it published.  So I  say, . . . . Viva La France!
Leave me a comment–I’d love to hear from you!


Christine de Pisan, an Early Renaissance Poet.

Some scholars call her the first feminist writer for good reason.  In her work, The City of Ladies , she writes about historic women and gives sage and quaint advice for women of her day who had to live in the world as it was;  she addresses not only the noble and powerful but the peasant and prostitute, the widow, the spinster, the nun, the married, the single, even the old and the young.  She took on this task because she said she could have used such advice when she was widowed.

Christine was married when she was 15 and widowed when she was 25.  She was left with five mouths to feed and much debt at a time when a woman of her class had two choices–to remarry or become a nun–obviously, Christine could not become a nun and shirk her responsibilities and she said that she’d had a happy marriage and did not care to enter the state again.  Fortunately for her, it was also a time in France  when Charles V the Wise was building a magnificent library and she had a talent copying manuscripts.  She would eventually be courted by the great courts of Europe for, not only her agile mind and eloquent verse, but, also a woman earning her livelihood by writing was an oddity, indeed.  Christine had the strength and determination to do what she had to do and to be what she could be.  Read more about her in my book, Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book.


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