Today is International Women’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than sitting down and reading some truly inspiring feminist literature? Over the years, there have been so many women changing what it means to be a woman and I have picked out, only a mere few, of these great works of writing. No matter what genre of writing you are looking for, there is definitely a piece of feminist writing out there to truly inspire you.
We Should All be Feminists
Published in 2014, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book-length essay has been inspiring and empowering people ever since. This piece of work was adapted from her famous TED talk of the same name, opening questions up to readers about what feminism means in the 21st century. In a period with so much social and political change and a young generation of socially active individuals, books like these are so important in continuing to inspire people.
Even the title of the book itself is extremely important, with the concept of ‘feminism’ being misunderstood by many to mean ‘man-hating’, rather than ‘equality’. Adichie asserts that We Should All be Feminists, something that rings true with anyone in the fight for gender equality.
Adichie doesn’t only discuss feminism, but redefines this in the context relevant to the 21st century, one that revolves around the importance for inclusion, rather than gender division. Drawing upon her own personal experiences and bringing humour and personalisation into her essays, Adichie discusses feminism in a way that is easy to grasp and artfully constructed.
If you are looking for a new book to pick up to understand more about feminism, or continue to move forwards with your own social activism, Adichie’s book will remind you of the importance of feminism in the 21st century.
Possibly one of the most famous pieces of feminist writing, Roxane Gay’s humorous and intellectual essays explain her personal journey as a woman of colour. Whilst representing her own narrative, she discusses what feminism looks like and means today from an analytical viewpoint, successfully empowering young women everywhere.
Published in 2014, Gay tracks culture over the years previously and represents a flawed image of feminism that many women can no doubt relate to. Arguing that she herself is a ‘bad feminist’, she goes into detail about all the things that she does and ways that she feels that she believes make her a bad feminist, or things that contradict ideals of feminism.
This is a powerful idea that has inspired much work along the same lines since, including Deborah Frances-White and Sofie Hagen’s humorous podcast The Guilty Feminist.
Gay looks at how she herself as grown as a woman in our society, looking outwardly at our culture as well as inwardly at her own experiences.
Bad Feminist is without a doubt a humorous and insightful account of feminism in the 21st century, taking into account consumer culture and inspiring people to achieve more and do better in our current society.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Fiction can be just as inspiring as non-fiction accounts, with Gail Honeyman’s debut novel definitely proving that.
With the protagonist Eleanor struggling with her social skills and avoiding social interactions, she deals with issues of isolation and loneliness, unaware that she could make her life more than it already is.
This all changes when Eleanor meets Raymond and later Sammy, who all become friends that aim to save one another from their own, isolated lives.
Honeyman’s novel is a loving, uplifting story of Eleanor, who is the heroine she never realised she was able to be. Showing that you do not have to be a certain type of woman to thrive, this witty story reminds readers of what it means to struggle, and what it means to thrive.
With the novel having won the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award, Honeyman has clearly proven her talents for fiction early on in her career, marking out her writing as something different and not yet seen before.
The heart is the most important part of this narrative, and Eleanor gradually learns how to love those around her and embrace herself. Although you may be thinking that my description of this novel seems like a cliche, I can promise you that it is not and you will no doubt be pleasantly surprised by what this novel has to offer.
Its success stems from both its distance and closeness to the real world, allowing you to externally look at the life of Eleanor, whilst undoubtably finding parallels between her experiences and ones you have frequently seen in the real world.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine if you want to escape into a female-focused world that will inspire you to change your outlook and your successes in your own life.
Naomi Alderman’s novel is yet another piece of fiction that has won awards for its uniqueness and influence upon feminists around the world. After its publication in 2016, The Power won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017, an award that specifically praises women for their talents in the literary world.
The Power is a science fiction novel that focuses upon a world where women develop the ability to release electrical impulses from their fingers, which ultimately leads them to become the dominant gender. Although fantastical in its ideas, this concept of gender imbalance is something that is extremely relevant in our current society and it brings into question our own perceptions of gender in a fictional world. This allows people to access their own opinions both within the context of the novel, and the context of our own world, drawing direct parallels between the two different settings.
Alderman’s talents stem from her fearless ability to expose the gender imbalances and own perceptive on feminism in our own society, challenging her reader’s own perspectives with seamless talent.
The Power is one of the best-known recent pieces of feminist fiction, with Emma Watson picking this unique novel to feature in her bookclub, Our Shared Shelf. Having repeatedly been recognised across the literature world, there is no doubt that Alderman has made her impact on the world of feminist writing.
These talented writers are only a few of the incredible literary talents that are worth acknowledging on this annual celebration, with there being many more feminist books on offer for your perusal. Instead of reading any old book this week, make sure you pick up a book that will challenge your perceptions on feminism and inspire you in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Featured image credit: Pixabay – b0red