Here's how you can be #boldforchange every day. Read more
women. Read diverse.
I'm a feminist. But I've realised
something. Most of the books on my bookshelf are about men,
written by men. So I'm doing something about it.
It's International Women's Day
today (#IWD2017) and the theme is #BoldForChange.
I'm about a quarter of the way in to a challenge that I've set
myself to complete over this year. It's a simple example of how you
can be bold for change every day.
My challenge is to discover 52
female creators in 52 weeks.
This means that I'm going to be discovering a lot of musicians and
poets, authors and activists, artists and innovators, movers and
shakers, protagonists and narrators. All who are women.
Actually, to get through that many
creators in a year, it means I'm going to spend the whole year only
enjoying the creations of women (pretty much).
So this is my year of women.
I decided to do this when I discovered
how lacking in diversity my own bookshelf was. I noticed the
similarities of the tomes lining my walls after reading an article
by author Nicola Griffith. A disability advocate and champion of
women's writing, Griffith decided to
analyse the winners of six major literary awards. Her findings
were stark. Books about women were less likely to win prizes. The
male narrative gets more recognition.
So, here is what my bookshelf looked
like when I started this challenge.
Lots of stories about men. Mostly written by men. Hmm. Not good. I
blame my penchant for medieval fantasies.
By the way, this is my bookshelf post
a Kondo method cleanse. It's not all the books I've ever read, and
the non fiction I've read for my studies would increase the gender
ratio of female authors. But I've focused on my bookshelf as it
But! The good news is that now I'm on
my 14th female creator and have more lined up, which means the
balance of my bookshelf has already changed significantly.
Which in graph format, looks like
So still mostly narratives about men written by men, but I've made
quick progress. And by the end of the challenge it will be suitably
stacked towards women's narratives.
What female creators would you
I've been very consciously seeking out female creators that
reflect a broad range of identities. I want this project to be
intersectional. Being intersectional means recognising where two or
more different social identities overlap, so female + ethnicity,
disability, religion, LGBTQ, different age, different class
systems, motherhood, immigration status…
I've been asking for recommendations,
including from the authors themselves. Like a domino effect of
women recommending women. Disabled feminists have pointed me
towards books like 'Don't Call Me Inspirational' by Harilyn Roussou
and 'Geek Love' by Katherine Dunn. Black feminists have pointed me
towards books like 'You Can't Touch My Hair' by Phoebe Robinson and
'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
But I need more of your
I've lined up another 26 to read. I've got space to include
another 12. I'm particularly looking for recommendations of female
creators from different religions, older women's narratives and
women representing different socio-economic grades/class systems.
Please make recommendations in the comments below!
Here are some lessons I've
learnt from the first 14 female creators:
So far I've got familiar with: Lori Petty + Rachel Talalay, Jazz
Jennings + Jessica Herthel, Alison Bechdel, Kate Tempest, Tyler
Feder, Phoebe Robsinon, Elisabeth Krohn, Maya Angelou, Harilyn
Rousso, Ana Lily Amirpour, N.K.Jemisin, Jessica Bennet, Jeannette
Winterson, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh and Esme Weijun-Wang. Here is what
Not only are books written by women
less likely to win literary awards, if you layer in extra
diversity - ethnicity, sexuality, disability - the chance of
winning is even less
Books about diversity are also more likely to be banned.
This book about transgender child is one of the most banned
books in the US last year
You need to check your microaggressions, and yes,
touching Black women's hair is a microaggression
Witch is a thriving feminist identity
Maya Angelou seems to have
beautiful words of advice for every situation
You need to think very carefully before you
call a disabled person inspirational
You probably have a
white as default bias where you assume all characters are White
until you are told otherwise
We should all form
feminist fight clubs, and there have been many women before us
from all walks of life who did exactly this
It's worth getting to know the person behind the work. I feel so
much more connected to the creators when I've seen what they look
like and read into their backgrounds
Once you start putting your feminism out there, you will attract
lots of like-minded people who want to go on the journey with
To be Bold For Change we need to set ourselves a
challenge. A specific change. So here's the change I've set myself.
I'm challenging bias and inequality. I'm celebrating women's
achievements. I'm going to transform my bookshelf into a wall of
This story was first punlished on Huffington Post, Wednesday 8
here to view original article.
By Claire McAlpine, Strategy Director