Riverdale Book Club Formed To Explore Feminism
Freshmen Gabrielle Shammash and Teji Vijayakumar have started a book club, entitled “Feminism in Literature,” wherein discussion revolves around feminism seen in literature and how it connects to our society today, including Riverdale itself. The club reads pieces of literature (varying in style from books to essays) and uses lunchtime meetings in an effort to discuss the message of feminism brought about in the piece. Students are able to profess their opinions as well as any ideas they have about the writing, allowing for an open conversation about what feminism truly means, and how there is not just one definition. Vijayakumar and Shammash were able to start this club by winning a social change grant, which allowed them to kickstart the club. In thinking about feminism, “there is so much literature and so many groups of people that are not represented thoroughly in our curriculum. Creating a space where you can talk about lesser mentioned groups of people, or people that are marginalized especially when it comes to feminism, is important,” said Vijayakumar. Most recently, the club has “been reading essays right now by Roxanne Gay and some of what we do is talk about what we think of them and what themes come up and whether we agree or disagree because one of the great things about feminism is [that] it's not one voice, one chorus. There are a lot of different opinions and sometimes they contradict and sometimes they build off of each other,” said Shammash. Including what they analyze throughout the literature, a lot of the feminism they discuss revolves around things they observe in their day to day lives and listen to in current pop culture. They also discuss the stereotypes that revolve around being a feminist. Specifically, they discuss controversy surrounding nomenclature: “The word feminist has this weird taboo on it of being social justice warriors and people take it almost as a joke,” said Vijayakumar. Interestingly, Vijayakumar and Shammash feel that most people who dislike the idea of feminism are not people who would benefit from feminism itself.
Freshman Justin Aguirre, one of the club’s many active members, enjoys the club for its “discussion because it’s deep and intellectual, and I can dive into it and be fully present.” He also would advise any students who are hesitant about joining to, “jump out of their comfort zone.” The “Feminism in Literature” club’s goal is to offer a space for the Riverdale community to share any opinion they may have in a judgement-free zone. It discusses a range of topics surrounding feminism, and discourages members coming to the club with any stigma. Starting from just an idea about creating a space to read and discuss work about feminism, and evolving into a popular and intriguing club, the “Feminism in Literature” book club has risen to an exciting peak. They are excited for future students who have yet to arrive and for the future reads they will be able to discuss.