Feminist February – a reading challenge

The past week has undone decades worth of progress for women and minorities’ rights. It is devastating to watch this happen in the name of democracy, but on a more positive note there has been unity across the world as people have come together to protest these injustices. First, we saw the record-breaking Women’s March protest, beginning in DC with sister marches across the globe. And just this weekend we have seen people unite in protest against orders to ban those from seven Muslim majority countries, preventing not only refugees, but those with the legal right to live in the US, including some high-profile figures, such as the Oscar nominated director Asghar Farhadi and Olympian Mo Farah, from entering the country. Many are viewing this as the first step towards a Muslim Ban which seems likely with the actions taken by the new President.

I fully support these protests and am disgusted by the actions that the President has taken.  As a UK citizen, there is sadly not much I can do politically (if I was a US citizen I would be penning letters to my representatives rather than writing this blog post). However, I can do what I do best: reading.

This is why I have decided to do a Feminist February reading challenge. The idea came around when I realised that most of the books on my immediate TBR and planned reading for February were must-read feminist books. This realisation came around the Women’s March and so I decided to cultivate this into a list which could be made into a more substantial challenge.

The point is to read a range of books which are not only feminist, but intersectional, to catch up on some of the classics I’ve never read, and learn more about the issues that are affecting women and minorities.

Without further ado here is the list of books I have picked:

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale

I’m actually ashamed that I’ve never read this and now is a more important time than ever: one of the best signs from the women’s march read ‘Make Margaret Atwood fiction again’ and was based on the dystopian vision offered in this book

  1. The Bloody Chamber

Again one that I never read but should have. I love fairy-tales but they are inherently patriarchal, and here Carter turns tradition on its head to bring us a better representation.

  1. On Beauty

Another author I haven’t read but should have* and I think the US/UK setting of this one as well as the explorations of race and politics will be very interesting in today’s political climate.

  1. Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Women Who Changed the World

Just released last year I feel like this is just the book I need right now. Much like my literary education, my history was all about Western, white men. This wonderfully illustrated non-fiction work features a range of women who deserve to be in the history books.

  1. Bad Feminist

I started reading this for my dissertation research last year and, as the deadline crept closer, never finished. I loved Roxane Gay’s exploration of feminist issues and am keen to return to this.

* this challenge is sadly illustrating that throughout two literature degrees I read books largely by straight, white men.

I have tried to cover a range of voices, ensuring that the list is not simply white, heterosexual women. This list is also just the starting point – I have a backup list to tackle if I finish these early and will post updates as I go on.

I hope that the very least this challenge achieves is for me to learn something new. I would love it far more if other people wanted to get on board too. If you fancy joining in let me know your lists, you can comment here or tweet them to me @ellenorange and I look forward to seeing your lists!

Update: You can check out my progress week by week:

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 , Week 4

You can also see my final thoughts in Feminist February – Round Up


8 thoughts on “Feminist February – a reading challenge

  1. I saw your Feminist February challenge on a The Bandwagon blog and think it is a brilliant idea! I have been concerned about keeping the protest momentum going and this challenge is ideal. Three Daughters Of Eve by Elif Shafak is a Turkish book I just read (in translation!) which is perfect. Its review is scheduled for Literary Flits on the 3rd Feb and I will now go see what else I have that can be bumped up my TBR list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Stephanie, I just read Three Daughters of Eve too, it was absolutely brilliant. I’ll keep an eye out for your review, looking forward to seeing what you think! I’ve also just been approved for and ARC of Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, a Nigerian woman, so will be adding that to my list too, I’m definitely keen to have a diverse range of voices.

      Liked by 1 person

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