Date of Award
Joseph B. Atkins
In Fall 2015, a group of women began meeting for lunch. The first meeting was nearly spontaneous: a woman named Eunice Benton emailed a few of her friends, saying that she would prefer to go out to eat with them at one o’clock on a Friday instead of eating alone. From there, the email list Eunice had created began growing and incorporating many new women from a variety of backgrounds, some of whom Eunice knew and then, increasingly, some she didn’t. The list spiked tremendously after the 2016 presidential election, as the group provided comfort to women who were extremely upset by the disappointing results and needed fellowship. This thesis brings together the lives of twelve group members, who tell their stories largely in their own words. The methods I used were journalistic methods, but the end result more closely resembles oral history. I wanted to find out what had drawn these women together in the first place and why people kept coming back. As a member of the group myself, I knew some of the value it brings. Other women’s insights have highlighted the very different paths many women have taken to feminism, activism, self-acceptance and (in many cases) self-sufficiency. One of my interviewees said that this was a group largely without patriarchy that exists within a patriarchal society. The simple act of women eating together is neither a new nor a radical idea. For generations, organizations like the Junior League and the Daughters of the American Revolution have been hosting lunches. No one would accuse these groups of trying to remake society or advance a progressive agenda. But the Wise Women has been a force for change in Oxford and a community in which women with progressive values (however they define them) have found like-minded women.
Brisack, Jaz, "The Wise Women of Oxford" (2019). Honors Theses. 1143.