According to Goodreads’ “Popular High School Books,” there is only one female author in the top ten books listed: Harper Lee’s, To Kill A Mockingbird. The next nine are diverse in time, topic, and style, ranging from Shakespeare to George Orwell, but are all by male authors. I was not surprised by this fact. I have attended a co-ed school for many years, and I found that the writers and themes of my co-ed English classes lacked in exploring feminism.
When I attended a co-ed school, I read books ranging by John Steinbeck, to William Golding, and J.D. Salinger. A central theme that I observed of all those texts is that the stories are all predominantly about men, written by men, and are focused on men. At Hewitt, the English curriculum makes a point of including female authors. Students read a variety of novels written by both men and women and the subject of feminism is integrated as much as possible. An example is the book I read at the end of last year: Jane Eyre by Jane Austen. This book was narrated by a woman, Jane Eyre, and told of her perspective and the struggles she went through during the entirety of the novel. Other texts were Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, and Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. All were written by women and emphasis the voice and story of women as the characters. In our library, the top shelf is specifically used to showcase biographies written by strong and inspirational women. This is a key factor I believe to be missing in the curriculums of co-ed schools. Though feminism may be lightly touched upon, it is not enough to cause an impact on the student body. It is important that in the classes students take, they are not just learning about the same themes over and over again. Yes it is vital to read books like Lord of the Flies and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but that must not be all that is focused upon. The curriculums at co-ed schools need to find a way to have an equal balance in their English classes where there is a differing in the subjects that are studied and discussed. Feminism is an extremely crucial part of literature and life and it is important that schools do not disregard that fact just because their student body is co-ed.