I thought hard about what my 100th post should be about. In the end I realised that by far the best thing I could do would be to post about 100 deeds.
Let me give you a little more information:
100 years ago, (4th June 1913), Emily Wilding Davison stepped in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, whilst promoting women’s right to vote. Some considered her to be an extremist, others a hero. On the 100 year anniversary of Emily’s deed at Epsom, we are interested in what gender equality means now.
In response to the Women’s Social Political Union slogan ‘Deeds Not Words’ we are inviting 100 members of the public to do and share a deed. It’s simple to get involved, just see here.
You have until Tuesday May 14th to get involved. That’s tomorrow. So think of something quick and do it! Men, women and kids alike have all been getting involved – be the next! 😀
Well, what am I going to do about it?
It took me ages to decide what my deed should be. Last night I realised, and it seemed so simple! I actually plan to carry out two deeds, but both are very similar and very dear to my heart.
It came from the realisation that while I own just over 500 books by men, I own exactly 100 books by women.
Deed #1 :: Reading more women
Those who follow me on goodreads know I’ve read a lot of books so far this year. Fifty-four to be precise. Of those, only eighteen are by women. This is despite me having made a concerted effort to read more books by women.
So my new pledge is to read at least fifty books by women this year, and make sure that at least half the books I read were written by women.
I very, very much encourage some of you to pledge to read more books by women this year. Pick a number – it could be five, ten, or a hundred!
Deed #2 :: Challenging sexist lists of favourite books/authors
I’ve had an OkCupid profile for years now, and I still use it occasionally to meet friends and talk about board games. Recently, I noticed that although most of the people I chatted to listed loads of great books in their ‘likes’, almost all of the books on every profile were written by men, and nearly all of the favourite authors listed were men. Horrified, I looked at my own profile and found a similar disparity (though at least with a few women on there!).
I had a radical rewrite of my favourites list, to account for all the women writers I love, but it still bothers me when I see a profile that lists only male writers. Particularly when I realise they’re often authors notorious for their misogyny.
Let’s be honest, the canon is against us. Society is against us. It’s the same reason that most of the books I’ve read are by men. They just seem to be what’s more available. Well, I don’t accept that any more.
My deed is to encourage as many people as possible to think about their choices for favourite books and authors.
I will ask people questions. I will badger people.
Think about your dating profile, your facebook page, anywhere you might list your favourite books or authors – are you perpetuating the exclusion of women?
Deed #3 :: My top forty books-by-women recommendations
As a little bonus, here is a third. A list of my top forty books written by women. I so, so recommend these books. When suggesting books to people, I again am guilty of falling into a trap of forgetting about women’s books. I find this especially when recommending children’s and YA books, and I think part of the reason is many are so obvious to me, I don’t think to mention them. So, in no particular order, here it is.
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Delta of Venus – Anais Nin
The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Oranges are not the only fruit – Jeanette Winterson
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
The Bone Doll’s Twin (trilogy) – Lynn Flewelling
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
In Country – Bobbie Ann Mason
Carol/The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith
Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes – Mary Talbot
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Possession – A.S. Byatt
The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
Sweet Home – Carys Bray
A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence – Inga Muscio
Harry Potter (series) – J.K. Rowling
The Worst Witch (series) – Jill Murphy
The Sterkarm Handshake – Susan Price
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (series)- Louise Rennison
Feasting the Wolf – Susan Price
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Suitcase Kid – Jacqueline Wilson
Girls in Love (series) – Jacqueline Wilson
Old Bear Stories – Jane Hissey
How to Train Your Dragon (series) – Cressida Cowell
Sea of Shadow – Fuyumi Ono
Anya’s Ghost – Vera Brosgol
Now, you may roll your eyes at some of my choices. Some of them are the same old names that get rolled out in every discussion of good women writers. I think it’s because I don’t know about, or haven’t read, enough. So, please, recommend me your favourite books by women. I’m going to need some suggestions to get me to over fifty this year!
Also, you wanna hear the worst part? I tried to get to fifty books, and I just couldn’t do it. On the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of my favourite books live, are only half a dozen by women (all of which are on the above list). This needs fixing.
What’s your point?
Our world, our society, our book trade, these things are all inherently sexist. We go along with this, many of us don’t even think about it. But it’s wrong.
To celebrate the incredible work done by the suffragettes in 1913, I want to change the way at least one person thinks about what and why they read. Even if that’s just myself.
What are you going to do?