Reading

Books to get into the mind of a feminist now

They shut me up in Prose —
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet —
Because they liked me ‘still’ —

Emily dickinson

In a perfect world we should all be feminists, we should all desire equality, we should all want a fair and just life.

Many people often confuse feminists with misandrics, the difference is simple; misandrics hate men, they feel superior to them and do not see them as worthy of rights. (Exactly like misogynists but in reverse)

Feminists are quite the opposite, they don’t hate anyone, the only thing they want is to create an environment where everyone has an equal chance, regardless of their gender.

That said, let’s get back to the central point, the books.

It is enough to want everything I wrote above to be a feminist, but of course there are people who stop at the surface and people who want to dig deeper and deeper into the history and psychology of feminism.

If you fall into the second category and would like to be more informed, this list is for you.

Circe

This book is based in the setting of the Odyssey, the very famous Greek work that is still studied in schools today.

Circe is one of the many children of Perse and Helios, the god of the sun. The story begins with Circe’s birth and takes us to a new world through her eyes. Her father is one of the dreaded Titans, the old gods who were cast out by Zeus once he took power.

This fact returns often in her childhood. The Titans are cold and aloof and Circe cannot even count on her many brothers and sisters for comfort. For a while, she tries to make her relatives proud but this only causes her bad consequences.

After this she begins to realise that if she wants anything in life, she will have to find a way to take it herself.

There are also references in the story to other famous characters from the Epic, for example, Scylla and Charybdis, the God Hermes and even the clever Odysseus.

During her life, she has to deal with different kinds of men. Some turn out to be helpful and help her, others only make her suffer and from some others she will have to find ways to protect herself.

This is a story of a woman who built her power on her own, with effort and sacrifice. It is a spectacular book that I am glad I didn’t miss, once you get past the somewhat slow opening pages the reading is all downhill.

My year of rest and relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh

This story follows the steps of an unnamed narrator who is very well off financially (she has a degree in history and a large fortune left by her deceased parents).

From the outside, her life is perfect, she is very beautiful, intelligent and works as an assistant at an upscale gallery in Manhattan.

Despite this she finds herself at the age of 26, with no ambition and no will to go on with life.

One day, on the verge of despair she has an idea, to take a year for herself, in which she will do nothing but sleep.

She says her reasons are not related to depression but that she simply prefers sleeping to being conscious. She will use pills to sleep continuously, and wake up only for the few needs that are necessary to stay alive.

This is how she begins her ‘year of rest and relaxation’, from which she firmly believes she will wake up as new, just out of a shell and finally be able to start again.

Women don’t owe you pretty, by Florence Given

The book in which Florence Given recounts her journey in discovering feminism.

She tells of how, as soon as she entered adolescence, the usual thought was immediately triggered, do anything to be accepted. And that is exactly what Florence did, she dressed and talked like the ‘cool’ ones, thus managing to conform to others.

It did not take long, however, for her to realise that this was not her and that she did not like the new version she had built for herself. She then began to doubt. Doubt made her ask questions she had never asked herself and slowly she began to see everything for what it really was.

A fight against anyone who was not a straight white man.

She realised that the only result of some of the ‘compliments’ she received was only to make her feel like an object, that the jokes were not really funny and that everyone seemed not to notice. When she tried to talk to someone about all this, even her peers gave her the same answers: ‘you’re exaggerating’ ‘it’s only a joke’ or ‘have some fun instead of being a prude’.

Like all those who dare to raise their heads from a crowd, she soon realised that people don’t want change, because it is easier to maintain those behaviours than to question everything you believe in.

Florence began to notice everything, with her eyes and ears now open she became aware of racist jokes in songs, homophobic scenes ‘for laughs’ in films and sexist phrases said without any shame, because they were considered right.

Realising all of this takes time and often many don’t want to do it, Florence makes you realise that even though there will always be those who react badly to your uncomfortable opinions, there will be just as many people who think as you do and who want a better future for this society.

Ain’t I a Woman?, by bell hooks

The book, titled after Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, examines the type of society in which black American women found themselves in the 1970s.

It analyses the effects of racism and sexism on this group, which had the least respect and the worst conditions of all other social groups.

The hatred that white women were ardently trying to detach from them was simply poured onto black women. This caused people to see white women as pure angels to be protected and black women were seen as insignificant sexual objects that men were entitled to use as they pleased.

In those days, many white feminists were also racist, and as much as they talked about equality, they did not include the black community in the conversation. Black women, because of their poverty, were forced to do jobs that were considered masculine, strength work, and therefore were not considered real women.

This book helps to give a different and more complete perspective than what we usually read in school textbooks.

Men explain things to me, by Rebecca solnit

Mansplainig.

Many women knew what it was even before it had any meaning. Here Rebecca Solnit faces a hard truth, some men like to think they know a lot of things and that women know none of them.

So whatever the topic, they will try to explain it to you in their own words, often in a tone of know-it-all and superiority.

This book grew out of an essay by a girl in college, and explains how this lack of credibility given to women is related to the lack of credibility given to reports of abuse, violence and harassment.

Feminism for the 99%, A Manifesto, by Cinzia Arruzza Tithi Bhattacharya Nancy Fraser

Having earned, in many places at least, the right to have their own money, their own career and their own choices. The world needs feminists to fight for more.

This book explains how feminism needs to change and include more issues that plague our society today. Like low wages, unaffordable housing and global warming.

These are not the usual things we tend to talk about but being current issues, the definition of feminist for this writer is: anti-capitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.

A feminism that includes everyone and everything, that aims to improve the condition of humanity and goes, with all its might, against capitalism.

Against all people who aim to be richer and richer at the expense of people who cannot even eat.

A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf

A Room of One’s Own is an essay by Virginia Woolf published in September 1929

Here, Virginia shows how the rules imposed on women result in women, especially women writers, losing their ideas.

Woolf states that the lack of works written by women, is not related to a minority of talents, but only to the few possibilities.

A woman who has to mother her husband and children, look after the house and show a determined face to society, cannot have the time or even the energy to sit down and put her ideas on paper.

Many men, on the other hand, had plenty of time and even a quiet office in which they could devote themselves to their writing and thoughts, a great advantage over the other side.

This theme is also easily linked to political issues and is therefore considered an important feminist discourse.

The list ends here, if you read any of these proposals please let me know what you think in the comments. Happy reading.

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