William (B.J.) Den Herder
Response #5, Women Writers and Selections
The overall theme of these writings is the search and struggle for the equality of women. These female writers through their tone and style are striving to help woman find this freedom and the rights they deserve. Although these selections are positive in their spirit, there seems to be a negative aspect to these authors work, one of condescension. Two of these authors, Sarah Moore Grimke and Fanny Fern seem to display this condescending tone. These woman authors are talking about the plight and condition of their fellow sisters, but it seems that they do not include themselves in this group. They seem to think or portray that they are better or more advance than the woman that they use in their stories as examples.
In the selection, “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman” Grimke seems to be a woman looking in on or observing the condition of her fellow sister but does not attempt to include herself in this group of females that according to her, are uneducated and unmotivated. “I am constrained to say, both from experience and observation, that their education is miserably deficient; is the business of fashionable girls” (2024). It may not be intentional on Grimke’s part, but by her tone and word choice she totally excludes herself from being one the females that needs freedom and equality as well as an opportunity for education.
It seems that if Grimke would have included herself into the piece by using the words “we” and “us” instead of “you” and “they” she may have been more effective in getting her message across to her fellow sisters. “There is another way in which the general opinion, that women are inferior to men, is manifested (2025). Although Grimke is trying to be objective in getting her point across, she is at the same time totally disconnecting herself from the audience she is trying to reach. She should have shown these women through her writing and ideas that she was in the fight, along side all of these women.
Fanny Fern is her selection “Hints to Young Wives” also disconnects herself from her fellow sisters through her tone and her series of examples. In her tone she is angered and scolds her fellow sister, her neighbor, who waits hand and foot on her husband. “Poor little innocent fool “Yankee Doodle!” (2039). Although Fern is trying to show the cold hard truth of the situation at hand she is also talking down to her fellow sister and making her look like a fool in the eyes of her audience. By doing this, Fern is not nearly as effective in getting her point across for the equality of women as she could have been. She should not ridicule her fellow sister, but help bring her up instead.
The tone and style of these two selections may not be the most important or obvious feature of the writing, but these two characteristics of the selections poses a question. “Why did these two females authors use this negative tone and condescending language about woman if they are trying to stand up and fight for these fellow sisters of theirs?” Grimke and Fern could have been more effective and possibly more influential in their quest for equality if they would have kept a more positive tone that in turn would have giving these women more hope for their future.