More on #ReadingWomen
This week’s guest writer for #ReadingWomen is Andrea Goldstein, a graduate student at Tufts Fletcher School and a Lieutenant in the USNR. She wrote on this issue for Task & Purpose, putting together her own critical women’s National Security reading list. Given the (un)happy convergence in our efforts, I invited her to write a few paragraphs on what representation in professional reading means to her. Speaking to the issue across both the service and civilian academic experience, the perspective she draws is direct and poignant, and whose relevance is difficult to refute. Enjoy the piece, give her a hearty follow on Twitter and beyond, and participation in #ReadingWomen. — JSR
I grew up in a home with a lot of books on the shelves. My dad loved to read history, and my mom was always trying to find books for me to read that featured strong women. As a result I came to read a lot (and still read) of historical fiction featuring women. I have no doubt reading Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness series influenced me early on. By middle school, I was interested in reading about war, and history of warfare. In every era, I looked for women at war, and while it sometimes took some work, I always found them.
My undergraduate academic training is as a Historian and Classicist. From Penthesileia in the Iliad and Camilla in the Aeneid, to the contemporary, from women disguised as men fighting in the Civil War, to women in uniform today, women have always served and led as part of national security organizations. They also often go overlooked, without credit, or have their achievements re-attributed to men, perpetuating the idea that women in national security are anomalies — they are not.
There are a lot of national security reading lists out there from male leaders whom I deeply admire and respect: Secretary Mattis, General McMaster, Admiral Richardson, and Admiral Stavridis all have published such lists recently. The books on those lists are also overwhelmingly (or entirely) by men, and often women writers only get included by writing about men. I do not believe the oversight is deliberate, and every book on those lists is worth reading. But men already take up a great deal of space, and there are thousands of books that are by and about women that should get their due in standard reading lists on leadership and national security — not solely on “other” lists “for/about” women. Well-respected leaders also have a responsibility to amplify often-silenced voices. Excluding women’s voices from these lists implies that leadership and national security are “for men”, which is not now, nor has it ever been, true.
#ReadingWomen, by Jill S. Russell