Voices from the Heartland is an anthology of essays that relates the stories of Oklahoma women. The authors share their experiences about their lives in Oklahoma: childhood experiences, relationships with neighbors, devastating times, life-changing events. The essays are organized under a set of themes, not limiting the contributors to a specific topic. Some of the pieces are light-hearted, such as Julie Carson’s essay about her left-handedness, while others deal with the struggles the authors have gone through because of their gender. While the gender issues accentuated in the book are conveyed by Oklahoma women, they are relevant to women everywhere, in America, other industrialized nations, as well as developing countries.
Women are often confined to a set of ideals and expectations because of one simple fact: they are women. Many of the women who contributed to this book have faced gender stereotyping and discrimination. Instead of allowing traditional social norms to confine them to an unwanted lifestyle, they challenged these conventional ideals, risking failure and facing condemnation from strangers as well as people close to them. People often associate feminism with negativity and pessimism. In “Feminism is a Dirty Word,” Cindy Simon Rosenthal talks about how people refuse to define themselves as a “feminist.” However, the movement does not advocate for women’s special privileges. Feminism celebrates social equality and supports the utilization of all talents.