The Goodreads Listopia is a weird and wonderful place. There you can find hilariously niche lists such as Scarred Heroes and Heroines in Paranormal Romance, and The Groom Wore White: Contemporary Male Virgins of Romance, so many wonderfully esoteric subgenre lists that I in fact wrote an entire article dedicated to them.
But what I’m here today to discuss is that a lovely obliging Goodreads user has put together a list of every book read or mentioned by 90s icon of intellectualism and apathy, Daria Morgendorffer, protagonist of the TV show Daria.
No less that sixty-two classic works crop up on the reading list of Daria, an intelligent female character created deliberately to serve as a foil for Beavis and Butt-Head, (yes, let us not forgot Daria’s humble origins as a minor character in Beavis and Butt-Head before receiving her own spin-off show.)
Now we have all sixty-two titles in list form, and none of the entries are surprising— they’re all pretty standard classics beloved of bookworms and English majors the world over, including the likes of Animal Farm, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Metamorphosis, The Grapes of Wrath. However, what I found surprising is that out of sixty-two listed books, a mere seven are written by women. They are:
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen,
- Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi.
Seven. That is 11.29% according to the online calculator I used because numbers make my brain short-circuit. Anyway, are you shocked? I’m a little bit shocked.
Daria is usually hailed as a pioneering example of feminist television (in as much as an MTV cartoon can be read as a feminist text) so I was pretty dismayed to see how few women made the character’s reading list, not to mention the fact that they are all white, and very few other people of color appear on the list. The evidence on the Goodreads list is corroborated by several other sites with lists yielding virtually identical data, give or take a book here and there. Almost all male, almost all white. But then I thought, was this intentional?
Perhaps the creators had Daria read mostly male writers as a commentary on how even those of us who are reasonably engaged in feminist discourse and progressive ideology can still find ourselves falling victim to society’s default mindset of unquestioningly perceiving white male writers to be the serious and important ones.
Me, writing this article | Via Giphy
Or maybe, Daria reads mostly men in an effort to better understand and therefore combat the patriarchal society in which we live. After all, she’s generally skeptical of almost everything and therefore, even though she does read mostly older, white male authors, she is doing so with a critical mind. I have to believe that one or both of the above is true, but still. Wouldn’t kill ya to pick up some Toni Morrison, Daria.
Featured Image Via Bustle