Meeting Jane – the aftermath
No novels enthralled me as much as Jane Eyre. I was unable to read past a chapter of anything. Many books that we were encouraged to read were written by men, from the men’s perspectives. I read Kawabata, and women were a young geisha or a dancer who mesmerized men. I read Soseki, and women’s presence was insignificant in men’s agony on their friendship. I read Murakami, and women were an enigma.
Neither my mother, aunt, or librarian could help me with books they hadn’t read. What I needed were books about feminism. I needed verification that I mattered: my feelings, my body, my opinions. I was afraid of reading another book and having my inner Jane Eyre contradicted.
As I stopped reading, I became increasingly irritable and angry, particularly toward teachers. They were incompetent academically and brutal in policing students. They couldn’t teach me what I needed, about feminism, equality, and humanity.