Get reading For International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is fast approaching, and it’s time to celebrate some strong, talented, female writers that have graced the world of literature. They’ve put their mark on the male-dominated industry, writing about female identity, sexuality, and socio-politics. But most importantly, they’ve shown women of all backgrounds and identities that it is crucial to raise their voices.
So in the run-up to International Women’s Day, take a break from studying and delve into the writing of some of the most influential and inspiring female writers in the literary world.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is narrated by Offred who lives in a totalitarian future where women are stripped of their rights and identities. Offred’s life is dictated by Gilead and their misogynistic ideals, with the separation from her family just the starting point. The Handmaid’s Tale is a political, revolutionary and bold novel about repressed female identity; a must read for IWD.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzi
Malala Yousafzi narrates her difficult yet inspiring life story as a Pashtun girl growing up in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She sheds light on the injustice she faced as a young girl simply wanting to be educated; a right that everyone should be entitled to regardless of sex and gender.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
In 2014 award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post about structural racism, and the way in which race and culture are addressed in Britain. It led to some backlash and misunderstanding from readers and Britons alike. But what she has written about in her book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is necessary; it highlights issues of white dominance and whitewashed feminism, and ultimately sheds light on what it means to be a person of colour in Britain.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson’s semi-autobiographical novel explores the themes of youth, sexuality, religion and family relationships, circling the protagonist Jeanette as she explores her lesbian identity. She’s surrounded by the rules of religion, her mother, and her mother’s friends with their lives entwined in the Pentecostal church. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is revolutionary in its themes, and speaks to queer and POC communities all over.
Girl Up by Laura Bates
Founder of The Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates is witty, outspoken and confident when writing about feminism, sex and gender in Girl Up. She writes of gender stereotypes, double standards and the lack of real and honest sexual education in school. It may appear to be exclusively for young women at times, but this book is an exploration of sex and society that should be read by all regardless of age, sex or gender.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie redefines feminism for the 21st century in this essay, adapted from her TEDx talk back in 2012. She debunks the negative stereotypes that surrounds the term “feminism” and encourages us all to embrace feminism in the 21st century. She writes about her experiences growing up in Nigeria as a young girl to illustrate her point to great effect.
This Bridge Called My Back edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Prominent feminists of colour are seen together in this anthology, emphasising the need for intersectional feminism and challenging white feminism and its call for solidarity. This Bridge Called My Back showcases the important words of Black and Latina writers including Kate Rushin and Gloria Anzaldúa as they explore the politics of race, gender, class and sexual orientation.
Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O’Toole
Emer O’Toole’s witty exploration of gender roles and performativity will have you reminiscing about the days reading Judith Butler for lectures. Essentially, it’s a much more accessible “Essays from Judith Butler”. She’s witty, engaging, and certainly doesn’t hold back. It’ll make you question how you perform your gender and go about your day in the skin you were born with.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s autobiographical I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is an exploration of racism and trauma from the point of view of a young Black girl. Angelou celebrates Black motherhood, the power of literature, and the importance of family as she searches for her own identity in the Southern United States.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
This extended essay has been named one of the most important works of feminist literary criticism. Woolf explores educational, social and financial disadvantages that women have faced throughout time, through the fictional character Mary. She claims that literature and history are male constructs that push women away from this sphere, and that we need more gendered values in society.
Enjoy your study break, and happy reading this International Women’s Day!