Happy women’s day to all the lovely, beautiful, and brave women out there. As glad as I am that there’s an entire day to celebrate women, I can’t help but feel a little skeptical of the concept. It is hypocritical to celebrate women’s day one day and then go back to constantly berating us for our choices, to put us down, to assault us, to suppress us, in general. Even with that skepticism, I realize how important it is for us to be thankful to the women in history and in the present for fighting for our rights and making us believe that we are, truly, capable of anything that we want to achieve.
I’ve compiled a list of five feminist books that educated me, inspired me, and made me a better feminist in general. I wanted the books that I list here to be the ones which are diverse and not as much talked about, for the same reason I’ve excluded book such as We should all be a feminist & A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions, but they’re great books to begin with as well. On with the list now 💛 !
Seeing like a feminist by Nivedita Menon : Seeing like a feminist is one of the most analytical, organized, and articulate non-fiction books I’ve read to date. If you want something that’s heavily informational and takes both a sociological and legal view to examine issues concerning women and feminism, this is what you want to pick up next. It confers upon you a feminist perspective ( hence the title) to even those issues which on the face of it seem unproblematic but studying the same in-depth exposes the seeds of systematic oppression of women. I’d say this book this the most different of all the other ones on this list because of its educational quality instead of being just a narrative and because of the same factor it is the most enlightening feminist book that I’ve read. Since the author is Indian, of course, the context in which she talks about these issues is in that respect but nonetheless, it is a fruitful read for anyone at all.
I’m afraid of men by Vivek Shraya : I must say, this book was often difficult and painful to read at times because of the author’s blunt honesty about some of the experiences she has been through, or the thoughts that she harbored, pre-transition. However, it’s also incredibly powerful, thought-provoking, and important. Shraya voices the anecdotes of ill-treatment she has been through calls out the hypocrisy of cis-gender individuals and addresses the questions of gender conformity and toxic masculinity through her book. Writing the book in a letter format addressed to a certain individual or a group of individuals made the book even more eloquent and the subject of the same – more jarring. One of the most crucial thing which the book does is to make you realize the privileges that you carry as a cisgender. It was heartbreaking to read about the daily fear that brews in the minds of trans women and men while doing the simplest of things, like going out, for example. Shraya weighs equal responsibility on both men and women to change the traditional notions of sexuality in a very direct and powerful manner towards the end of the book, in a portion that ended up being my favorite. It is certainly a very personal book but it needs to be read by everyone.
A room of one’s own by Virginia Woolf : I can’t seem to shut up about this one, and the reason is that it is truly wonderful. I’ve probably said this before but the way Woolf chooses her words and phrases them is not only eloquent but also piercing and strong, a quality I’m sure is not exclusive to a room of one’s own. Being an avid reader, and reading Woolf talk about the way men write women and how different the books of the two genders are treated like was a rewarding experience. Especially because it felt like she put my exact thoughts into words, more coherent and precise than I ever could have done it. However, the most startling thing is the relevancy of the text. It’s both amazing and sad how a book written in the 20th century about the financial and personal liberties of women is still applicable today, especially in poorer regions. This book made it to my top ten list of 2020 reads, you can read it here where the past, saner, not a mentally exhausted Anushka will do a better job of talking about how this book is the best.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay: If you are not a reader, and the thought of reading non-fiction scares you, even more, pick this up. Roxanne Gay’s writing is funny, accessible but at the same time, educational. There’s a lot of pop culture references in this one, which works for the purpose of this book since it underlines the sexism prevalent in the film or music industry. Roxanne discusses feminism, naturally, from the perspective of a woman of color and does not go easy on feminism itself. She criticizes the movement for the lack of intersectionality, how it often doesn’t recognize the privilege of the wealthy etc. What I loved the most about the work, however, was how it reassures the reader that it’s okay to be flawed sometimes, how it’s okay to be still figuring out what feminism personally means for you. I had truly an amazing experience reading this witty book.
Girl, woman, other by Bernardine Evaristo : Since I am serving a variety here, I thought to include fiction in this list, which is another favorite from last year. It is set in London and deals with the interwoven lives of twelve women from different backgrounds. It talks about so much. It is able to realistically and wonderfully depict the difficulties that these women have had to face either because of their race or economic status or just living in a white-dominant society, but especially because of being a woman. Girl, woman, other is profoundly moving and heart-wrenching at times because of the sensitivity of the issues that it represents. It is compassionate, incredibly diverse, and truly phenomenal.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”― Maya Angelou,
I almost did not post this today because my exams are going on, but I’m so glad that I did. I would love to hear your thoughts on these books if you’ve read them. I’m always looking for more feminist reads so dont hesitate to recommend me one! I would also love to hear what feminism personally means to you. Be kind and have a wonderful day today. Mucho Amor- Anushka ✨