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Why do fundies idealise Little Women so much


Daenerys

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I will admit to not having finished this book (although I have seen the film) but I'm confused as to what makes it so attractive to them...

1. The older girls (Jo & Meg) have jobs and therefore earn their own money, bringing a level of independence and getting them out of the house on a daily basis.

2. The youngest (Amy) goes to a school and is therefore not educated by her mother, who also appears to have some sort of employment...

3. They are an entirely female house and hence not subject to any kind of male authority.

4. The older girls speak and spend time with Laurie without a chaperone and refer to him as a 'friend'.

5. Jo is a tomboy and tries as much as possible not to conform to the gender ideals of her society, and her father/Laurie accept this as just being her personality.

6. Jo actually ends up with a proper career, living independently of her parents and male authority.

7. Amy is very vain and obsessed with her appearance throughout, not exactly extolling the virtue of modesty.

8. Although they are Christian by virtue of their location and background, God and Religion do not seem to be central to their lives.

There is also the fact that on reading about this novel, a lot of sources refer to LMA as being an early feminist, and her portrayal of Meg's misery in being at home is said to be a rejection of the idea that a stay-at-home, subservient wife would be a happy individual.

So why on earth is this book a fundy dream?

Example of a fawning post: onebrightcorner.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/little-women.html

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I think they love it because it's old, and everything from the "good old days" were automatically perfect to those people. And they don't have to worry about it having modern day references to things they don't approve of. As for the old time references to things they don't approve of, they probably don't have enough reading comprehension to understand how feminist Little Women is. They're blinded by all the pretty period dresses.

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I doubt they have actually read it all. They probably stop at Beth's death. And Beth i think is the attraction. She is meek, obedient and sacrificing. Also they spend a lot of time playing Pilgrims Progress, which further saves the fundie from reading it. What is really weirdis that Alcott, and by extension theMarchs are Unitarian, therefore not Christian at all.

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Why don't you ever hear them talking about Anna of Green Gables then? It has all the same things.

Actually we did discuss this on the old board (I only remember because I started the topic :oops: )

http://freejinger.yuku.com/topic/4400

You do actually see the fundies talking about Anne sometimes - and it's generally pretty fawning. Just like with Little Women (and Pride and Prejudice of course) they just can't seem to see anything they don't want to see.

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Also I believe Little Women talks about suffrage and the mother says she doesn't see why girls should be constrained by corsets and not exercising. She says that fainting over needle work is basically a bunch of hokum. If read carefully, this likely a criticism against the idea of female hysteria. Wasn't Little Women banned for a time or am I mistaken?

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Why don't you ever hear them talking about Anna of Green Gables then? It has all the same things.

I think maybe Anne's feminism is too obvious. She's much too free-spririted from the very begining of the books. It's not something you could ignore, though I could see how you could ignore those same things in Little Women. They also probably hate how disobedient and imaginative Anne is. Things they'd never want in their daughters and things that couldn't explain away. Also I don't think there's a Beth-like character they could focus on.

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I think maybe Anne's feminism is too obvious. She's much too free-spririted from the very begining of the books. It's not something you could ignore, though I could see how you could ignore those same things in Little Women. They also probably hate how disobedient and imaginative Anne is. Things they'd never want in their daughters and things that couldn't explain away. Also I don't think there's a Beth-like character they could focus on.

Well there is Ruby Gillis, who is blonde and fair. She finds love and then dies of galloping consumption but she's not a main character.

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Believe it or not, I've seen "Little Women" and books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and L.M.Montgomery excoriated on fundie blogs for being overly feminist and for not promoting the "right" brand of Christianity.

xDreamerx, I am a "Little Women" junkie, and suffrage is not discussed in the book at all--perhaps because the women's suffrage movement was just starting to get off the ground in those days.

The bit about forgoing corsets and encouraging exercise isn't in "Little Women"--it's in Alcott's "Eight Cousins," in which a male doctor encourages dress reform, exercise, and a healthier diet.

Re "Anne" vs. "Little Women": "Anne" was published in 1908, the two "Little Women" volumes in the 1860s, so we're talking decades of cultural remove there.

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Guest Anonymous

In college, I wrote an essay about how well Little Women aligned with Victorian middle-class values. I found that the novel is nothing like as revolutionary as we might imagine: All of the women fall into the two acceptable roles for women in the nineteenth century: either married or dead. A couple of times in the novel, the girls wax lyrical about the wonders of motherhood even when it does not fit with their character (look at Amy's description of coming into motherhood).

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In college, I wrote an essay about how well Little Women aligned with Victorian middle-class values. I found that the novel is nothing like as revolutionary as we might imagine: All of the women fall into the two acceptable roles for women in the nineteenth century: either married or dead. A couple of times in the novel, the girls wax lyrical about the wonders of motherhood even when it does not fit with their character (look at Amy's description of coming into motherhood).

True--if it were revolutionary, it would not likely have been as wildly popular as it was. (At one point, Alcott wrote of being tired of writing "moral pap for the young.") Hence, it's scary that fundies are intimidated by it.

In one chapter of "An Old-Fashioned Girl," though, Alcott writes about a full-out urban feminist commune. See hoipolloi's post on the old site for a portion of it.

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I feel the same way. Most can summed up in "blah blah blah marriage". I much prefer to read Woolf or Stein.

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I doubt they have actually read it all. They probably stop at Beth's death. And Beth i think is the attraction. She is meek, obedient and sacrificing. Also they spend a lot of time playing Pilgrims Progress, which further saves the fundie from reading it. What is really weirdis that Alcott, and by extension theMarchs are Unitarian, therefore not Christian at all.

Actually, they were transcendentalists. The Alcotts were tight with Emerson, actually living at his experimental "commune" until Mrs. Alcott, considering the health of her daughters, went back home, leaving Bronson with Emerson. I want to say this was the winter of 1841. Too lazy to hit up either Emerson or Alcott on Wikipedia at the moment.

I watched the most recent film about a month ago (the one with Winona Ryder), and she defines their beliefs outright. Emerson is also mentioned, so it's not like their beliefs were a state secret. From the fundie POV, the work ironically makes a case that non-traditional beliefs have merit and kindness, charity, etc. are not virtues reserved just for Christians.

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Emerson was fucking awesome. I think everyone (especially fundies) should read Self Reliance.

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Actually, they were transcendentalists. The Alcotts were tight with Emerson, actually living at his experimental "commune" until Mrs. Alcott, considering the health of her daughters, went back home, leaving Bronson with Emerson. I want to say this was the winter of 1841. Too lazy to hit up either Emerson or Alcott on Wikipedia at the moment.

I watched the most recent film about a month ago (the one with Winona Ryder), and she defines their beliefs outright. Emerson is also mentioned, so it's not like their beliefs were a state secret. From the fundie POV, the work ironically makes a case that non-traditional beliefs have merit and kindness, charity, etc. are not virtues reserved just for Christians.

I'm a UU, and, according to what I've read, the Alcotts did associate themselves with Unitarianism. Transcendentalism was more a philosophy than a religious affiliation. (See her work "Transcendental Wild Oats," which discusses her parents and the commune.)

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The girls all have different personalities in Little Women, and they all find happiness within the patriarchal system of their times. That seems to be rather the theme of the book: whatever your aptitudes, you ultimately need to get married and become a "woman" by Victorian standards.

It was one of my favorites when I was young, but I identified more with the headstrong, take-shit-from-no-one Laura Ingalls.

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I long suspected I was the only reader of this book who didn't think it was tragic that Jo didn't end up with that milksop Laurie - give me the oddball German professor any day - but she never gets to Europe! THAT breaks my heart.

(But then, I spent most of my teen years and twenties plotting ways to get to Europe....)

Here's one fundie paean to Anne:

http://ylcf.org/anne/

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Guest Anonymous

All of the apparently feminist aspects of Little Women fall flat pretty quickly. I have found that the literary critics who claimed Little Women was feminist rested their ideas on ridiculous things: Jo eats apples = Alcott ate apples = apples are associated with Eve = apples are a symbol feminist protest. On the other hand, the traditional, acceptable, womanhood roles that existed in the nineteenth century are represented in a very straight-forward manner: the cult of domesticity, the cult of motherhood, the cult of Christian charity, etc., etc. are felt whole-heartedly and fulfilled unquestioningly by the surviving Marches.

Even though the March sisters start out with distinctive personalities, as they grew older those personalities were planed down until the girls fit the exact same model of acceptable, Victorian womanhood.

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The girls all have different personalities in Little Women, and they all find happiness within the patriarchal system of their times. That seems to be rather the theme of the book: whatever your aptitudes, you ultimately need to get married and become a "woman" by Victorian standards.

It was one of my favorites when I was young, but I identified more with the headstrong, take-shit-from-no-one Laura Ingalls.

That's what I got from it too, and why fundies might like it. That no matter what you're like, you too can get married, have lots of babies and be super happy! I actually didn't like that they all ended up married in the end. I didn't want Jo to be with Laurie particularly but I found it strange that he ended up with Amy, like he wouldn't be able to associate with the Marches unless he was married to one of them. And Jo didn't seem like she'd ever get married. I never liked the ending because I felt like they all ended up doing exaclty what they were supposed to.

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As someone who grew up fundie, I remember this book. Pretty much everyone I knew in church read it, and I think emmiedahl hits it on the head. At its core, the girls all have different personalities, but they grow up to be more or less "acceptable" as Victorian women. I do remember being cautioned not to be too much of a bookworm or I'd end up like Jo - she was seen as a little more sketchy by some of the real sticklers in our church.

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Jo married a German professor who she would spend time with, in a boarding house, alone. True, they only discussed philosophy but it's a racy way to spend time even by modern fundie standards.

Plus, and I haven't picked up the book in about 8 plus years, wasn't the Professor not the kind of guy Jo's family wanted her to marry? I'd also say that the Father seemed to be the meek and least important member of the family. True, he was away at war and they did mention him occasionally But it was usually in terms that sounded more like he was their little brother and not father (at least that was my interpretation).

I can't see this or Anne of Green Gables being good fundie girl reading. Then again I see people reading books like this all of the time and not seeing past the pretty period settings.

I wonder how Elizabeth Gaskell would rate on the fundie meter? Some of her books would definitely not make it, like "Ruth Barton", because its about an unwed mother.

Edited for mistakes.

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I think that some people read feminist into it because A- it does treat the women as individuals, and B- Alcott was a feminist herself.

And she also wrote short stories for "womens' magazines." Still not feminist, but not nearly as wholesome as what she wrote for kids.

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Anna became the idolized Vision forum women-She married upper middle class,and did not do much beside be a good wife and say wise gentle things to her many children while her maid slash cook took actual care of them.

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I long suspected I was the only reader of this book who didn't think it was tragic that Jo didn't end up with that milksop Laurie - give me the oddball German professor any day - but she never gets to Europe! THAT breaks my heart!

Yup--another vote here for the oddball German professor! I never detected the slightest bit of chemistry between Jo and Laurie; I thought they were just pals till Laurie hit puberty and decided he had the hots for her, and she wasn't interested.

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