In the week of International Women’s Day (8th March) it’s timely to revisit some feminist writings. Rebecca Solnit's essays in Men Explain Things to Me are hard-hitting and remind us that we still have a long way to go towards gender equality, respect and fairness. While we still encounter gender prejudices and stereotypical behaviour in what many of us consider a sophisticated culture, we need to keep questioning the political, social and psychological structures that frame our worlds, both personal and political. In a year where Trump rose to power, where the far right becomes ever more popular, and gender politics become the playground of the powerful elite, knitting a pussy hat and joining the protest movement looks like a good idea. Solnit writes with clarity, anger and spirit. While many of the brutal facts and figures of domestic violence will make you cringe, these figures are required reading that remind us that while there are good men, the rate of violence against women is too high. Intelligent and thoughtful, Solnit talks about gender politics with a clear eye on other factors of oppression (economic inequality, migrant politics, family dynamics, etc), making these short essays a good starting point for further investigation into her writing.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's essay (a TED talk - so you can listen as well) is an excellent and hopeful argument for why we should all, men and women, campaign women's rights and equality. Adichie delivered this talk at TEDx in 2012, with millions of views, numerous articles and reviews, and the production of a small 52-page book, We Should All be Feminists, is an accessible essay that should be read by men, women and teens alike.
If you’re like Jessa Crispin, who thinks feminism has become too mainstream, too much of an apologist movement, you’ll be keen to read her treatise, Why I am Not a Feminist: A feminist manifesto. She gets under the skin of feminism to the structural problems of our socio-political structure, arguing for a radicalisation of feminism.
And if you’ve never read Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, this beautiful hardback edition is now available. "The Bloody Chamber is such an important book to me. Angela Carter, for me, is still the one who said: 'You see these fairy stories, these things that are sitting at the back of the nursery shelves? Actually, each one of them is a loaded gun. Each of them is a bomb. Watch: if you turn it right it will blow up.' And we all went: 'Oh my gosh, she's right - you can blow things up with these!'" - Neil Gaiman