Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Short Feminist Essay Collections

From Goodreads:
What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
I haven't read any of her fiction yet, but this essay ensured that I'll be moving her up my TBR list to the ASAP pile.  There's a lot of talk about inclusive feminism going around these days and I think this is the place to start for a look at feminism that isn't based solely on the white American experience.  It's also a really great place to start if you aren't sure what you think about feminism or if you're intimidated by the subject.  A lot of people in my age range seem to be really hesitant to claim feminism, mostly because they think it means man-hating or has a political bias.  This provides a great, easy to read and understand explanation of why feminism matters to men and women of all political and cultural persuasions.  It's also only 48 pages long, so you can read it in a flash.

From Goodreads:
In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
Are there any women in existence who have not had something they understand and/or have expertise in explained to them by men?  At my last job, I had a very helpful IT professor who would frequently stop by the library to tell me about his vast personal library of fifty books and how he'd be happy to teach me how to shop for books if I ever wanted his expertise.  Because it's not like that's what I do for a living/went to graduate school for or anything.   And this is just my own personal example - like I said, I'd guess that every woman has at least one of her own.  Which is why Rebecca Solnit's title essay is hilarious and inspired me to nods of agreement.  Her other essays examine various aspects of gender inequity, but I found the title essay to be my favorite.  The others are worth reading, and the book itself is short, something that can be read in a single sitting or spaced out by essay.

Thanks to my local public library for providing copies!

1 comment:

  1. I don't usually read essays but both these sound worthwhile. I'll check out my library.