Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Literary Ladies' Go Political

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Literary Ladies' Go Political

Article excerpt

Nine years ago I discovered the "Literary Ladies," a small group of women who read a wide variety of fiction. I joined so I could be whisked away from the day-to-day realities of war, a rising crime rate, and politics.

We lived by the caveat "never discuss religion or politics." I've learned this phrase was intended to warn (specifically) women against expressing their beliefs so they could maintain harmony in their relationships. My book club ladies silently agreed with this notion.

Sure, we eventually learned of a certain woman's religious affiliation or that another member was a staunch Republican. These were just facts. We were "ladies," you see, and it seemed improper to pry into anyone's private religious or political beliefs.

Our group increased to 15 women, consisting of a mix of Northern girls and Southern belles. We scribbled our titles on folded bits of paper and picked them from a cookie tin. We even served food to accompany our chosen books.

Often, we exchanged recipes and the names of plumbers. We even broached the topic of sex, but never religion - and certainly not politics. Eventually our group began choosing meatier authors and chewed on the likes of Steinbeck and Faulkner.

Four years earlier, there had been a presidential election, and we instinctively knew how each person would vote. The election came and went. Then the winds of the 2008 election began to blow and politics was on everyone's mind.

Our favorite bookshop shelves were groaning with political titles. A woman and an African-American had entered the race. Things were different this time.

One day our youngest member told us about her background in political science. We listened as she shared why she didn't continue in politics. I nodded my head along with the others: Politics is a filthy business. Then one member said meekly, "But someone has to be in office." Another piped up, "Maybe it's time a woman got the job." Silence.

Groups of two and three broke away from the main and whispered. …

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