Tag: Feminism

Empowering Female Biographies For Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! This month, we take the time to celebrate all the fierce women of history and recognize their outstanding lives of achievement and legacy. To start off this month, here are five must-read biographies of women that have certainly shaped history.

I AM MALALA– MALALA YOUSAFZAI

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You have most likely heard of this inspiring young woman. In October of 2012 when Malala’s story garnered worldwide attention, watchers from all parts of the globe avidly tuned in as this courageous young woman fought for the rights of girls everywhere. Courage radiates off the pages of this autobiography and you will surely admire Malala’s journey.

 

Zelda– nancy Milford

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Her husband is one of the most famous authors in literary history. Young Zelda Sayre’s life is chronicled from her childhood through her adult life, as she became Zelda Fitzgerald, and in turn, a prominent figure in the literary world beyond. Milford eloquently tells of the struggles and trying times behind the glamour of the roaring twenties and the shining legacy of The Great Gatsby.

 

Madame curie: a biography– eve curie

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This biography written by Madame Curie’s own daughter brings a personal touch to the story of one of the greatest female scientists of all time.

The collective autobiographies of Maya Angelou– Maya Angelou

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This collection of memoirs will let you into the intimate details of Maya Angelou’s life and mind. This book chronicles the many milestones in her life, from her childhood to her adulthood.

The immortal life of henrietta lacks– rebecca skloot

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Rebecca Skloot writes the unbelievable story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who contributed revolutionary cells to science without knowing it. Skloot takes dives deep into the Lacks family, science, and the circumstances surrounding the revolutionary HeLa cells. Much is revealed about this strong woman’s life in this utterly fascinating account.

 

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7 Books That Celebrate Female Sexuality

It’s officially the month of love, and as we learn from doctor/author Emily Nagoski, our most powerful sexual organ is actually located between our ears (not our legs). That’s why we chose to highlight these stimulating reads that inform and inspire us on a subject that doesn’t get enough attention: female sexuality. So, whether you’ve got a Valentine’s date lined up or plan to indulge in a little romance for one, these books will definitely get you in the mood!

 

1. ‘Come as you are’ by emily nagoski

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Years and years of research on the female libido and we still lack a universal answer to the question of “what makes us tick”. Why? As Dr. Nagoski explains in this New York Times bestseller, there isn’t one. Unlike men, all women have unique sexualities that vary and are highly influenced by life’s complications like mood, setting, and body image. Understanding these elements and how to take control of them will transform your sexual wellbeing in ways you may never have thought possible!

 

2. ‘F*cked: Being sexually explorative and self-confident in a world that’s screwed’ by Corinne Fisher & krystyna Hutchinson

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If you haven’t listened to Guys We F*cked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast, then first of all, what are you doing?! Hosts and now debuting authors Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson have tackled every subject under the umbrella of sexuality, from kinks and toys to trauma and shame. The best part? They laugh the whole way through… because let’s be honest, sex can be hilarious. These ladies are not for the faint of heart, so gear up and proceed with caution.

 

 

3. ‘She Comes first’ by Ian Kerner

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This is one for women who date men (bless our souls). From sex therapist Ian Kerner comes “the thinking man’s guide to pleasuring a woman,” starring one particular act of foreplay that we can all agree deserves a spotlight. Buy this book for your boyfriends, husbands, friends, acquaintances… just any guy, really. Maybe not your coworker.

 

4. ‘Three Women’ by lisa taddeo

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Slightly different from the previous books on this list, Taddeo takes a narrative approach to female sexuality by following the real lives of three American women over the span of eight years. One sleeps with her high school teacher, one cheats on a loveless marriage with an old flame, one has sex with other men in front of her husband: all will make you feel deeply connected to the trials of womanhood. Bold, messy, and real from start to finish, Three Women is an absolute must-read.

 

5. ‘Fear of flying’ by erica jong

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It’s been nearly five decades since the iconic novel was first released and met with controversy typical of the time, but it is no less relevant today than it was then. The story follows fictional character Isadora Wing through a series of sexual fantasies and encounters that ultimately lead to some serious self-discovery. Her “fear of flying” applies both to traveling on planes and to existing free from the confines of traditional femininity, making Jong a pioneer of sexual liberation who paved the way for our modern Hannah Horvaths and Carrie Bradshaws.

 

 

6. ‘tipping the velvet’ by sarah waters

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You simply can’t talk about lesbian fiction without mentioning Sarah Waters. Set in 1890s England, Tipping the Velvet is the coming of age story of Nan King, an oyster girl who falls in love with a male impersonator and enters an all-consuming affair that severely alters the rest of her adult life. Packed with juicy eroticism, gender-bending, and queer love, you won’t want to put this one down.

 

7. My Secret Garden’ by Nancy friday

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Not to be confused with the classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden is a collection of real women’s sexual fantasies gathered through letters and interviews. Originally published in 1973, this book faced its fair share of backlash from the conservative public for its shocking content, female masturbation being at the top of the list. There are some details that may make even the modern reader raise an eyebrow, including one woman’s fantasy about her neighbor’s dog. Have we piqued your curiosity yet?

Light a candle, pour a glass of wine, and crack open one of these exhilarating titles (or stimulate your senses with an audiobook version). Happy Galentine’s, ladies!

 

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Alice Walker Quotes To Inspire Your Wednesday

Alice Walker, the critically acclaimed author of The Color Purple, is certainly an inspiring presence in the literary world. Her moving stories speak to the fragility of the human experience and her colorful writing encourages us to find the beauty in every moment.

This Black History Month, we celebrate the men and women who have greatly shaped history by providing indispensable contributions to countless dimensions of society; Alice Walker’s literary talents and accomplishments are nothing less than extraordinary. Here are seven of her poignant quotes that will inspire you this Wednesday.

image via the new yorker
  1. “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

2. “I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.” – Revolutionary Petunias

 

 

3. “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”    – The Color Purple 

4. “The more I wonder, the more I love.” – The Color Purple 

5. “Part of what existence means to me is knowing the difference between what I am now and what I was then.” – In Search of Our Mothers Gardens 

 

 

6. “Keep in mind always the present you are constructing. It should be the future you want.” – The Temple of My Familiar 

7. “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.”

8. “I believe in movements, collective action to influence the future.” – You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down 

9. “Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.” – Revolutionary Petunias 

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Galentine’s Book Picks To Share With Your BFF

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to spoil your significant other, but its also the perfect day to spoil your BFF! Everyone has their favorite things to do for Galentine’s Day, so why not add some awesome books into the mix? Here are five recommendations to share with your bestie!

 

Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

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An undisputed classic, Little Women tells a story with incredibly strong women and timeless themes. A perfect addition to this Galentine’s Day!

Since You’ve been gone- Morgan matson

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Since You’ve Been Gone tells the story of best friends Emily and Sloane as they make their way through an unconventional summer. If you have a best friend that constantly encourages you to be the best you can be, you’ll connect with this one.

 

The unexpected Everything- morgan matson

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Clearly, we’re loving Morgan Matson this Galentine’s Day! The Unexpected Everything has it all: friendship, romance, ice cream, and dogs. Tons of dogs. What could be better? You’ll definitely enjoy reading about this quirky group of friends as they navigate their summer with some unexpected twists.

 

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS- khaled hosseini

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This heartwarming book tells the story of two young women, Mariam and Laila, as they share life experiences while living in Afghanistan. A Thousand Splendid Suns beautifully explores the precious nature of life and will definitely inspire you.

 

 

sisterhood of the traveling pants- ann Brashares

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Another classic here! The friendship between Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby is surely something extraordinary, and you’ll definitely want to share these special girls with your own group of besties. This book makes us wish we had a magical pair of jeans!

 

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The Bell Jar’s Influence: Anniversary Edition

The first line in The Bell Jar is a hook: “It was a… sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” The person speaking is Esther Greenwood, a smart, straight-A, dark-humored and, as the story goes on, depressed protagonist.

The book was published in London on January 14th, 1963 under a pseudonym Victoria Lucas, one month before the actual author, Sylvia Plath, committed suicide. People had to wait almost a decade for its publication in The United States. It is the only novel Plath ever wrote.

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The story itself is a coming of age tale about a college girl who is figuring out what she wants and who she wants to be. She wins a contest to write for a “girl’s” magazine called Ladies’ Day in New York. She takes the opportunity and moves to New York for the summer along with a group of other young women, and they all live in a hotel/dormitory called the Amazon. This is where the book begins. The experience is less than Esther expected it to be. Her editors give her uninspiring pep talks, and her friends lead her into dangerous situations where she is almost, at one point, raped. She feels lonely most of the time. Upon getting stuck in a room where one of her friends, Doreen, is getting close with Lenny Shepherd, a man they met by happenstance one night on the town, Esther says:

“There’s something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction – every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and that excitement at about a million miles an hour.”

It is with similes like this one where we get a deep look into Esther’s intelligence and ability to discern the truth about what it means to be young and still forging your identity.

 

A lot of the novel is about forging identity, but Esther’s identity is so tied up with her depression that she has trouble separating the one from the other. After New York, she heads back home to Boston and spirals downward until she finds a crawlspace to hide in, and tries to commit suicide. This lands her in a sanitarium. She is eventually sent to a private hospital in the countryside paid for by the woman who sponsored her scholarship, Philomena Guinea. It is there where Esther is really attended to for her illness. She is given insulin, analysis, freedom to go into town with improvement in mood, and is treated with electric shock therapy; all of it leads her back to wellness. How do we know she’s well? She says, just before her dismissal, “There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice – patched, retreaded and approved for the road.”

This novel also gave Sylvia Plath a way to confront sexism and convention. Throughout the pages, Esther mentions how many times her mother has at one point told her to learn shorthand. “The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters.” Esther doesn’t know how to cook, either. She doesn’t know how to dance. She can’t sing a note. “The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes…” In other words, Esther succeeds at competing with men.

image via sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com

Plath’s writing style can be interpreted as dark, but also as darkly comic, elegiac, honest, and nostalgic. “When I was nineteen, pureness was the great issue.” This is both a joke and an admittance. After Esther finds out Buddy Willard, her boyfriend, has already had sex, she is filled with resentment over the hypocrisy he embodies but also feels a competitive edge. She rejects his proposal. He is a fraud in her eyes now, and it brings her a step closer to knowing something about herself: she cannot succumb to promises of chastity until marriage. Esther ends up losing her virginity to some guy named Irwin she meets on the steps of the Harvard Library. It leads to a slight hemorrhaging mishap that lands her in the Emergency room; what she loses in blood she gains in experience and independence. She is even fitted for a diaphragm with the encouragement of her female doctor. “I was my own woman.”

 

Esther also ponders a life of wifely duties with children and husband as her primary purpose in life and she grows deeply afraid. “I knew that in spite of all the roses and kisses and restaurant dinners a man showered a woman before he married her, what he secretly wanted when the wedding service ended was for her to flatten out underneath his feet like Mrs. Willard’s kitchen mat.”  While this characterization of family life may be exaggerated, Plath is pointing out the inherent gender inequality and unfair expectations society has for women.

Image via Lagan Online

The bell jar itself symbolizes Esther’s mental illness in all its stifling, alienating inescapability: ”…wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” The bell jar warps reality, but there isn’t much difference, at times, between the distortion and the truth, as Esther discovers. On the day she is due to leave the hospital, Belsize, where she lived during her hospital stay, she wonders “what was there about us, in Belsize, so different from the girls playing bridge and gossiping and studying in the college to which I would return? Those girls, too, sat under bell jars of a sort.”n

If you’re curious as to how closely this novel relates back to Sylvia Plath, she did indeed have a guest editorship at a magazine called Mademoiselle. Philomena Guinea is based on a real woman, her literary patron named Olivia Higgins Prout, and Plath did try to commit suicide, and was sent to a hospital as a result. She even had Electroconvulsive Therapy just like Esther.

 

In 1979, there was a film adaptation starring Marilyn Hassett and Julie Harris. It did not do well with audiences or critics. There is a Showtime tv series (originally slated to be a film) starring Dakota Fanning based on the book supposedly in the works.

image via storenvy

The response to the book was positive, but Sylvia’s mother didn’t want it to be published in the United States because of the comparisons people made between Esther’s family and her own. It finally made it here in 1971, and fans did hyper-focus on the autobiographical similarities, though the NY Times gave it a positive review. The New Yorker’s review was mixed. In the end, it became one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.

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