Empathy is one of humanity’s greatest assets. The reason that we’re able to enjoy stories is because we can easily slip into the thoughts, motivations, and lives of other humans. The origin of the word “empathy” comes from an ancient Greek word, empatheia, which means passion or physical affection. Our understanding of other people inspires passion in us, emotion. Social animals like dogs are much more intelligent than solitary animals like cats, because they have to be built to understand others. Our empathy is partially what makes us intelligent, and allows us to build society in the first place, because we can actually see other people. When you read a book, you’re empathizing, feeling passion for the characters. You’re strengthening your ability to understand others, and thus, improving the human race. (more…)
Note: You can read the first part of the series here.
The woman writer was, for most of human history, a novelty. For every Sappho, Enheduanna, or George Sands, there were scores of men writing and defining our history and our culture. It’s not difficult to see why women did not have the same opportunities to become writers: For much of civilization, women were treated as either pretty chattel, nursemaids, wives who were enslaved to their husbands, or were expected to give up their person hood to bear children. In essence, sub-human. Unless they were prostitutes or rural workers, women were not expected to work in business. They were often confined to the home, having nothing but their children and husband and the occasional family member or social visit to define their worlds. Women who managed to be writers often had to be affluent enough to have the time and education to be given the space to write. Only a few woman, in comparison to their male counterparts, managed to achieve this with the restrictions they had on their person throughout our human history.
When I was 19 years old I told my first boyfriend, “I don’t want to wait for you on a cliffside while you go adventuring.”
I often talk in imagery when, frustratingly, I find myself unable to articulate everything I wanted to say. What I wanted to say was that, I didn’t want to just be someone’s wife or caregiver. I didn’t want to be swallowed by the story of a man. I wanted to be an individual, with my own adventures. I’d read stories of the wives who waited. Or more accurately, I read stories of the men that they waited for. Women tended to disappear inbetween the gaps, when mythology and history were being made, and that was my best way of saying that I didn’t want that to happen to me.