So, not all good, not all bad. All helpful to defining my own admittedly poorly-defined concept of feminism? Yes.
I was 18 when I recieved Manifesta and Radical Sanity for Christmas. They had to be special ordered. My mom wasn’t well at the time so she had folks helping her with her shopping. Thus began the influx of feminazi comments – but you know what? I didn’t care. I devoured those books. DEVOURED. And then kept going. SO MANY of these books have shaped my self-concept and challenged my thinking and angered me and made me laugh…
I think a lot of feminists in their early thirties were introduced to feminism by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards’ book Manifesta. I have actually owned two copies in my lifetime. That original book was lent out – in hopes of spreading the good feminist word. I didn’t get it back, so bought a second. It was that important to me.
I followed up, like any budding feminist, with Gloria Steinem, with bell hooks. I read Naomi Wolf. I learned about this great young feminist website founded by Jessica Valenti and then went off to read anything she had written. I read about the Second Sex, about sexuality, sexualities, labels, conformity, gender, and love. I read Angela Davis and questioned capitalism and questioned my own privilege. I read and read and read.
I then got older. I had kids. I could not (and still cannot) consume books the way I did. I’ve binged on some celebrity feminist reads. Good old Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and even Mindy Kaling – self professed feminist funny women. I read and laughed and loved them. I read, and questioned, Lean In. I read (and reread) Why Have Kids? – grateful that that same young feminist that I identified with ten years ago still kind of understood me and made me feel accepted for me to question the concepts and expectations of motherhood. I identified with her – difficult birth, difficulty fitting in with the mommy club. I wanted to go back to work. It was hard being a “feminist mom” sometimes because I didn’t fit the mommy mould. And reading that others didn’t either made me feel normal. Normal is a great feeling.
Having already explained my current relationship with reading, you can probably guess that my to-read list is pretty long. You would be correct! I have finally started Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman in time for her to release her next book, aimed at younger readers, How to Build a Girl. I may be the only early 30s feminist I know that has not read Lena Dunham’s pink and black and white bit of writing. I still would love to read I am Malala, and Bad Feminist is up there on the list. I’m fascinated by my daughters inherent love of princesses and the ultra-feminine despite my partner and I’s values, so Cinderella Ate my Daughter has been on the list for a while now. And who doesn’t want to learn more about the Secret History of Wonder Woman? I kind of wish I was Wonder Woman.
These days we are faced with so much feminism to consume, and so little time. Between blogs and Twitter feeds, Facebook groups and events, workshops and bookclub, work, class, home life and kids, there isn’t as much time to pick up a book. But hopefully this provides some food for thought when you’re looking to go old school with some bound paper and a cup of tea.
Says the woman who is only 98 pages deep into How to Be a Woman…
…which she got for Christmas.
It’s the thought that counts, right?