Your Friday Five

Southeast Library

Your Friday Five

Women's History Month

Women's History Month starts in just a few days! We have lots of events planned all over the city that teach about overcoming the challenges that women face now and the challenges women faced in the past, told via films, historical reenactments, and storytelling for adults and children.

In celebration of the activists, feminists, and women who came before us, here are five excellent feminist-themed reads that will make March more enlightening. 

Feminism Unfinished by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry

Thinking about the history of women’s rights movements brings to mind winning the right to vote in 1919, hippie protests focused on war and birth control in the '60s and '70s, and recent debates about where feminist social change should focus in the 21st century.

But… what about the 1990s? And what was going on before the protests of the 1960s? How did feminist activists respond to the success of the suffrage movement? This book, written by three academics but with fairly readable language, fills in the gaps about feminism’s past, present and future. 

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

If your memory of this book is one of pain and confusion, I urge you to give it another try. The original translation from de Beauvoir’s French was done by a professor of zoology who barely spoke the language. The new version, translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chavalier is much better: clearer and complete.

Now you'll understand more of de Beauvoir's descriptions of how female bodies have been treated historically, how they move through our emotional and symbolic world, and the seperation she makes between our bodies and the gender we enact. 

Half the Sky by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Feminism’s path through U.S. history is quite different from that of many other countries, but despite these differences our journeys do affect one another. The couple who authored this book take the reader around the world on their travels, showing the unique social and cultural hurdles that women face in many different countries.

Then Kristof and WuDunn demonstrate the ways that economic and social assistance can change the course of a woman's life, and her family's life, and how helping women achieve economic stability creates opportunities for her entire community.

Written well with familiar language, this book is a heartwrenching but wonderful read. 

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

This is the book with the white-and-pink cover that you’ve been seeing all over your commute. Gay, a brilliant and witty author, picks apart her life, her personal history, and the influence of popular culture on both.

Most will be able to see some part of themselves in her writing, and Gay will validate your feelings, for better or worse, that the culture you consume makes you the person you are or aren’t. Her examinations of television, comedians, movies, are racially and socially well informed, and they will prompt you to see pop culture with a new seriousness and a new eye. 

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Moran's soon-to-be classic on feminism, womanhood, and her own life, came out in the U.K. in 2011 and distinctly combines memoir, social criticism and humor for a unique read. The way she writes isn't for everyone -- plus she's very British -- but her jokes and experiences are still relatable across the pond.

If you embrace her off-the-cuff writing style and choose to see it as freeing instead of annoying, you'll get more out of the content. It's distinctly non-academic, which is refreshing after reading thick tomes with complex vocabulary.

Topics include: her wedding, her politics, her underwear, and whether or not we should all be having children. 

Bonus Friday Five Feminist Fiction!