Please join us in the Wilmington Library at noon four Mondays this spring as we read representative dispatches from this epic battle and talk about what it’s meant over the centuries to be a nasty woman, who gets to decide who’s being nasty, and on what basis that label applies.
One of the most unexpected legacies of the recent election season stemmed from a remark Donald Trump election season stemmed from a remark Donald Trump made about Hillary Clinton in the heat of the final Presidential debate: “such a nasty woman.” Although the characterization was meant as dismissive, it galvanized women across the country. Within an hour, “Nasty Woman” T-shirts were advertised for sale, and the hashtag #NastyWoman immediately trended on Twitter. One observer’s nasty woman, it seemed, was another defender’s bold, heroic, unapologetic, unabashed, activist heroine. Now that the election is over, the furor over nasty women continues to rage because the use of epithet tapped into a long and often heated history of debate about the relationship between being nasty, being female, and being labeled by men. This simmering debate over the diagnosis, cause, and cure of nasty women regularly erupts in the work of philosophers, feminist, and the authors of stories from The Odyssey to Hedda Gabler to Gone Girl.
Monday, Feb. 27th, 12:00-2:00
The ancient Athenian playwright, who must have known a thing or two about nasty women firsthand, caps his many notorious theatrical presentations of them with this story of the sorceress who helps the adventurer Jason claim his throne by securing the Golden Fleece, preparing for a calamitous finale.
Monday, Mar. 20th, 12:00-2:00
Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers
Although most of Wylie’s non-holds-barred screed against American values circa 1942 has been forgotten, his chapter imputing catastrophically destructive powers to American mothers has survived as a textbook example of the kinds of cases men mount against women because they’re women.
Monday, Apr. 10th, 12:00-2:00
James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce
Noir specialist Cain takes a break from the bleak stories of murder that put him on the map to present the crime-free but equally hardboiled story of a suddenly single mother who resolves to do whatever it takes to provide for her diminished family, and ends up paying a terrible price.
Monday, May 1st, 12:00-2:00
Rebecca Traister, All the Single Ladies:
Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation Originally planning a monograph on the contemporary rise of the demographic of single women in America, Trister discovered an unexpectedly rich history of single women. Here she presents a remarkable series of links between the intermittent power of single women and political activism, social justice, and the ideal of independence.