Happy International Women’s Day! One of my favourite days of the year, if for no other reason than I get to remind angry men that they have a celebration day too. Because God Forbid us women have one day where we just might be a vague priority, or at least subject of conversation in a positive way.
Before I launch headfirst into an essay, let me divert back to what I’m planning on talking about.
International Women’s Day came about as a call to action beginning in 1911, as a global celebration of women and a demand for equality. Since it began, it has morphed with the world and changed to suit the society we are living in. This year’s theme is ‘each for equal’, IWD website states, “We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”
For my part, I’ve got a list of books here, both fiction and non fiction as my contribution to challenging misogyny this International Women’s Day.
Queenie Candice Carty-Williams
Starring one of the most relatable characters every created, Queenie follows its namesake with beautiful, witty, hilarious, heartbreaking commentary. Trying to work out what she wants from life whilst battling against what life wants from her, Queenie is a book about the politics of being black, being a woman, and being alive in our modern world. Raw and strong, it is a lively book with an important tale to tell.
The Woman in the Photograph Steohanie Butland
From the feminist rebellion of the 60s through to modern day discussions of what it means to be a woman, The Woman in the Photograph follows the changes that feminism brings to lives, both past and present. Through love, rage, pain and grief, it even focuses on International Women’s Day at one point! You will fall in love with these characters and find power in their stories as you follow them through their lives.
Nevertheless She Persisted Jon Walter
Recently gifted to me by David Fickling Books, Nevertheless She Persisted has been on my wishlist for a while. From the backcover, as I feel this sums it up best: “Deeds not words! All the good words in the world won’t change a thing. One must take to the stage and act or you will forever live a lie”. Looking at the lives of two sister in 1913, as the suffrage movement starts to move through the country, their lives will never be the same.
Everyday Sexism Laura Bates
I talked about this book in detail a while ago, but how could I not mention it again when we’re looking for feminist reading. A no bullshit review of what women face everyday, Laura Bates doesn’t hold back at all in her sharing not just of her own experiences, but those of others. The fact this does combine the tales of so many women is maybe one of the reasons it has caused such a ripple effect. Because obviously, as we’ve seen in recent years, we can’t possibly believe just one woman…
What Would Boudicca Do? E. Foley & B. Coates
One of my favourite non fiction and favourite feminist books, WWBD? (as I tend to send to my friends now) talks about some of “history’s most remarkable women” in a context of how they would handle modern problems, such as “are you having (more) babies?” and “the work-life balance”. Enough to make your blood boil and somehow make you cackle at the same time, this wonderful book is absolutely engaging with every page.
Invisible Women Caroline Criado Perez
“Exposing data bias in a world designed for men” is the subtitle of this book, and together with the dedication – “For the women who persist; keep being bloody difficult” – you get the idea of just what this collection of case studies is about. Looking at everything from sizing (focusing around men) and going to the doctor (where treatments have been designed for men), this will make you want to go out and scream at everyone you see NO THINGS NEED TO CHANGE RIGHT NOW.
It was hard for me to narrow this down to just three of each, as I could have kept listing until next IWD. A lot of my reading has a feminist theme, and it makes me feel only stronger in my opinions and decisions to do so when I see the complaints about women getting attention for one day a year. If you haven’t read these books yet, I heartily recommend them, whoever you are. I’d also love to hear from you with recommendations you might have for me – and other readers – to read.
So – Happy International Women’s Day 2020. Keep up the fight.