While organising (and gloating over) the piles of to-read books by my bed the other day, I noticed something interesting: every single one of them was written by a woman.
It wasn’t by any design. While I’ve always been preoccupied with reading about the lives of women, I never actively set out to reject male authors. And yet all 13 of those stories waiting by my bed (I know, I know) were told by women – and all but one had a female protagonist. A closer look at my entire bookshelf confirmed the trend: I could count the male authors on one hand.
This got me thinking about why I’ve always had a fascination with the female experience and the lives of women through history. Maybe it’s because, really, there’s still not enough of that sort of thing around. Maybe it’s because I could never understand myself through Shakespeare, Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald and J. D. Salinger – the headliners of my high school lit reading list. Maybe it’s because, frequently, men still insist on telling our stories for us – in art and in life. While literature has done a lot better than some other forms of media (looking at you, Hollywood), there’s still a long way to go.
I am proud that I read so many women. I may not have power or influence and I can’t put right the misogyny in the world, but I can make this small choice. I can read the stories of women – migrants, misfits, poets, artists, women of colour, Muslim women, LBQT+ women, rebels, game-changers, survivors. I can make a conscious effort to listen to the voices that the world tries to silence or ignore. Maybe it’s not much, but it’s my personal act of quiet rebellion.
(PS – I hope to post some reading lists for intersectional feminism/women in various genres at some point so look out for that.)
(PPS – feel free to add me on Goodreads! I love being nosy about what everyone else is reading…)