Ophelia revived

I’m a father with grown children.  I encountered Mary Pipher’s book Reviving Ophelia in the 1990s.  The title might give you an idea of what sort of book it is, and why I would have read it.

Ophelia?  Collateral damage in Hamlet’s struggle.  She becomes mad, eventually drowning, after her father dies & Hamlet pushes her away.

The perils she faces –parents & peers influencing her—are not so different from those encountered by girls growing up in the 21st century, sometimes with similar results.  Drowning is sometimes just a metaphor, the girl losing her authentic self in the stream of pressure to change. As I never had a son I never bothered looking for books about parenting male children.

I keep getting jolted by the evidence in front of me.  Earlier this winter I was at a memorial celebration where I could clearly see cohorts of talented people.  Those who were in that school in the early 1970s stood together in one part of the room, those from the mid-80s in another part, and so on.  And yes the current students were also there in an especially cute cluster.

More recently I watched young actors perform at Ryerson Theatre School.  Then today, in church I again observed members of the congregation growing up before my eyes.

When my eyes fell on the copy of Pipher’s book on the shelf today, I decided to lend it to one of my relatives.  She has a young daughter, but maybe the mother herself was beneficiary of the wisdom of the book.

Mary Pipher: whose new book appears in June

I hope Pipher’s book has been influential, because—if I don’t miss my guess—the world is a safer place for daughters and the parents of daughters than it was almost twenty years ago, when the book appeared.  Feminism is so much more than equal pay or reproductive rights.

I’d like to believe that the current generation of girls are growing up stronger and safer from the currents that might endanger them or their authenticity, at least partially thanks to Pipher.

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