Anahita Padmanabhan ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Near the beginning of January, Emma Watson decided to start a book club, but obviously, it would be no ordinary book club. No, she wanted to create a feminist book club, which parallels her work in the UN as an activist for women and their rights and equality in the world. The book club is mean to inspire, educate, and be a fun experience, for men and women alike. Each month a book will be selected and then there will be discussion on the text. The first book for the month has been announced, already (My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem), but the following books haven’t yet. So, in anticipation, here are some feminist books that we think would be great for Our Shared Shelf!
Written during the late 1950s through the early 60s, Friedan’s book was revolutionary and groundbreaking. During a time when women were marrying in their teens, a time that many people associate with having the quintessential stereotype of a “proper woman,” Friedan dared to write about the unhappiness that women felt and even targeted culture through advertisements, and also talked about psychology. The Feminine Mystique is hailed as the start of second wave feminism. Almost fifty years later, Friedan’s writing is still relevant.
In 1990 Wolf published this book that tackles the issue of beauty standards that are forced upon women. In 2016, women are still trying to accomplish that task. Beauty ideals have changed throughout history, but ever since society has existed, they have always been there, and today we can see women across the world challenging what it means to be beautiful, and standing up against the beauty ideals, because we are all beautiful no matter what we look like. Wolf addresses these exact issues in her book and tells women to choose what to do with their bodies rather than letting the fashion and beauty industries make those decisions. The Beauty Myth empowers women to love their bodies and take ownership of it, which is such an important message in a world where women have always been subjected to societal pressures.
Honestly, anything by Hooks should be on this list, but this one in particular is important. As an African-American author, Hooks really delves into the intersectionality of feminism. She focuses on what feminism means to black women specifically. Many, many times, the role of women of color in feminist movements gets hidden under the achievements of white women, however Hooks doesn’t overlook them. Unfortunately we still are whitewashing a lot of feminism history, and we need voices like Hooks to be heard so we don’t forget the important roles that women of color played, and how women of color were treated. It is a big part of history that needs to be learned and understood. Feminism is for everyone, no matter their age, gender, or race.
Adiche might be best known now for being featured in “Flawless” by Beyoncé, but the quote used in that song actually comes from her TED talk of the same title, which she turned into her book. Adiche’s work is so important because she talks not just about how the typical gender roles only affect women but men too, because feminism isn’t just about women. It is equality for all genders. She also talks about sexuality which is something that many cultures don’t talk about. Adiche’s book offers insight into the workings of societal pressures on gender-normative roles, and how that is harmful to everyone. Her book is so important because she can convince the audience that feminism isn’t reserved for women, but that, as her title states, we all should care.
Like more modern books on feminism, Valenti uses humor to explain what feminism means and why it’s important, making it not only educational but also entertaining to read. Her book covers almost every topic possible and in a very readable tone. Her book is a good way for women to start to understand what feminism means, and how sexism is part of everyday life for them. It’s relatable and is a good introduction for women to realize that they probably are feminists without perhaps being conscious about it, and spark some interest within them to become more active.
Whether Our Shared Shelf features any of these books or not, the importance of such a book club cannot be overlooked. And what’s most important is that people all over the world get to share feminist books that have inspired them, and hopefully inspire others. Our Shared Shelf can be found on Goodreads. So go awaken your inner feminist and start reading!