A Feminist is an individual who believes that men and women are of the same value and deserve the same rights. Feminism has existed for decades, empowering women and affording them rights that they did not have access to in the past. More than a cultural phenomenon, Feminism has paved the way for women to be perceived as strong, successful, and capable of leading their own lives.
Anyone can be a feminist. Male, female, or non-binary, young or old, what makes a feminist is a firm belief and support in the values of feminism. However, not everyone has access to this information. Some people may even have a hard time figuring out where to begin. If that is the case, expanding your knowledge is easier than it ever has been. Looking for creative essays on literature to read is a good way to start as well. They're free, accessible, and provide numerous examples and topics that can help you have a deeper understanding of feminism.
However, another great way to learn is to check the published literature. Feminist literature has grown in popularity and prominence over the years, with more and more people respecting and appreciating their existence. Literature written by a feminist novelist creates waves of impact that affect everyone in society. By reading up on these books, you're allowing yourself to have access to decades of empowerment. This ultimately allows you to have a better understanding of the movement itself. Here are 7 of the best feminist fiction and nonfiction books that you need to add to your bookshelves.
Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This nonfiction book is probably the best place to start for those who are just getting into feminist worldviews. This book discusses how important the genuine experiences of women are, all while packed in an easy to understand format. This is a great alternative to essays on literature that you may have a hard time understanding.
Feminists Don't Wear Pink: and other lies by Scarlett Curtis
Speaking of essays, this book is a great way to see multiple perceptions and forms of feminism. This book is a compilation of the best literature essays that tackle multiple facets of feminism. The literature essays examples presented in the book provide an easy way to digest decades of feminist history and values.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
You've probably heard of this book, and there's a good reason for that. Out of all the feminist fiction books that exist, this book tackles issues ingeniously and truly puts everything into perspective. Set in a dystopia where women's rights and values have been compromised in the name of religion, this book puts readers in a place of reflection and forces them to ask themselves questions about society that truly matter.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is a poetic genius, and the first part of her 7-book autobiography truly exposes that. This book discusses Angelou's journey as a young woman in the industry of art, constantly being victimized by oppressive and racist structures. It is truly a masterpiece that every intelligent and independent woman needs to read.
Women & Power by Mary Beard
Go on a journey through time and discover multiple manifestations of feminism in literature with this book. Mary Beard takes readers on a trip to assess the feminist and social notions of events within history, supplementing it with current social trends and integrating them into the views of feminism.
She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox
If you are a fan of poetry, this book is a must-read for you. Charly Cox takes the stories and narratives of multiple young women and weaves them into poetic genius. This book is filled with poetry and prose that discuss the experiences of women all over the world.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
In a brave tell-all novel, Malala brings to light the experiences of women who do not have the privilege of living in a progressive world. This book is a great way to take a deeper look into the plights of women that belong in an oppressive society. Malala's narrative is a story that many women share.
These books may not tackle everything you need to know about feminism, but they sure are a great place to start.
5 min read
Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.
I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.
I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.
Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.
My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.
I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.
When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.
So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.
Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.
And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.
This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.
I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.
I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.