Feminism is one of the most misused and misunderstood word. There are people who shy away from using the term and there are some individuals who call themselves true feminist. Oxford Dictionary defines the Feminism as The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Feminism does not mean to demean other sex. Every individual, whether male or female, should embrace feminism because we must treat each other equally.
These 7 books will not help you understand the true meaning of feminism but will also awaken the feminist within you.
#1 Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
A graphic novel, this book will take you deep into the strength of black and white contrast. It aptly carries us to the dark, black life of Marjane, a girl in Iran, who just wasn’t ready to accept the orthodoxy during the Islamic Revolution. At the age of 6, she was ready to become a prophet hoping to abolish the problem of secular education being banned for girls and veil being a mandatory apparel of women. She portrays a life where she has seen a happy, safe phase with her parents to a phase of the coming of Islamic Revolution and massive destruction in the war with Iraq. It is a perfect book displaying the feelings of people in Iran, especially women, with a sword hanging on their heads scaring them of change, not having any hope like a dark room cutting them off from any sort of light. Even though the book had a culture foreign to most readers, the audience can still feel the connection with it because of the themes covered and the presentation manner, depicting the story as a humanist along with feminist.
#2 Yajnaseni: The Story of Draupadi by Pratibha Ray
People have talked a lot about Mahabharata and the valor of the Pandavas. But there was this one woman who was always neglected and till date is misunderstood, with her name pronounced with such a hatred, blaming her for being the entire reason behind Mahabharata. This novel is the story of Draupadi, the sufferance and sacrifice she went through and yet all she got in return was misunderstood notions about her. The book brings out the deepest, unknown aspects of Draupadi’s mind concealed in the majestic facets of war. Brilliance at it’s best, this novel could be really uplifting for those women who endure all the pain and agony, not having a voice to speak their mind. The author has elongated the roots of feminism by bringing out the underlying mysteries of the society.
#3 The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
“When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet.”
Making vagina a tool for women empowerment, the Vagina Monologues consists of various monologues read by a lot of women, focusing on a simple physical aspect of the body, the vagina, and making it touching on the matters of what a body part has to go through while sex, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth and orgasm, manifesting the singularity of females. Many of the monologues are terrifying, creating a sense of awareness and power. This book has truly emancipated the feminine gender, leading to the launching of V-Day, a non profit movement to end violence against women.
#4 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A lot of us must have read this book, but most of us would not have seen it from a feminist point of view. Think of it, a story of two women, with a difference of two decades, and how they helped each other out to survive the adverse conditions created by the Talibans and their husband, how is that not empowering? The story is about Mariam, a teenager who is sent off to marry an old man when Laila comes into play almost 20 years later, being forced to marry the same man, and how Mariam’s hatred towards her husband’s young second wife turned into a strong bond, just like that of a mother and daughter, to overcome their struggle of brutality, torture, starvation and terror of the Taliban’s. This novel drives a feeling of love and a strong rage of mixed emotions altogether.
#5 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A romantic novel that will keep you at the edge of your seat, Jane Eyre is the story of a young poor girl, orphaned, yet unbroken in matters of self respect and spirit. She breaks through all the difficult regimes of Lowood Charity school, takes up the post of the governess and falls in love with a rich man, Mr. Rochester. Her determination to find a wider and richer life unimaginable for someone as orphaned and poor like her, facing all the trials and tribulations creates a melodrama to depict the burning passion a woman has to overcome the impediments on her way. This novel remarkably portrays the yearnings of a woman, and the extent she can go to get what she wants in a male dominant society. It is all the zest a woman needs to accomplish her desires.
#6 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This novel is an amazing depiction of a young, energetic, talented, beautiful woman falling in the darkness of mental illness. It’s a story of a girl, Esther, who faces breakdowns, which become serious over time. It becomes intense over time which is shocking and terrorising. It takes us to the distressing complications of the human psyche and how haunting it can become. This book is intensely realistic, partially about the author’s own life, and you are sure not to end this book without crying. It touches the heart of the readers and makes them realise the intensity of hitches one can never even think of. The Bell Jar is sure to absorb you in its truth, bringing you out as a different person.
#7 Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry by Frederique Delacoste
Sex workers are those souls who are immensely disrespected and always looked down upon-almost like they have no soul. They are, in a true sense, being considered as toys having no feelings and no esteem. However, this time, the author has made an effort to bring some value out of these sex workers. This book describes the occupation and genuine stories of street prostitutes, exotic dancers, nude models, escorts, porn actresses, and workers in massage parlours changing the reader’s perspective of sex and money. The novel also includes other sex work related awareness and information. This book is sure to empower women, making them realise their significance, but more importantly, it’ll change the way we treat and look at these sex workers. It will make the readers realise they are more than just toys. They are humans-with a heart.