Imagine waking up in Cairo on January 25th of 2011. Trying to call your loved ones, but to no avail. Trying to turn on your lights, but to no avail. Turning on your television, and witnessing the people of your country violently turning on the government in the historical site Tahrir Square. In light of the low wages, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and police brutality that plagued the nation, millions of protesters from various social, economic, and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Violent interactions between the police and the protesters resulted in almost 1,000 people killed, and over 6,000 left injured.
Image Via The New Yorker
The role of women in the revolution needs to be discussed more. Prior to the revolution in 2011, women only accounted for 10% of protestors in uprisings. However, in 2011 in Tahrir Square, they accounted for about half of the protestors. Together with men, women risked their lives to defend their fellow Egyptians and defend the square. The reason why there was a huge increase of female presence in the protests is attributed to the improvement of education, especially throughout younger women. Quite an empowering moment not just for Middle Eastern women, but women around the world.
Image Via Al Jazeera
Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisingschronicles the 2011 revolution in Egypt through the viewpoint of women, with various first hand interviews with female activists. It looks at the history of gender throughout Egypt and discusses the possible outcomes for the future possibilities of women’s rights within the country. The author, Nermin Allam, blends social movement theories and the lived experiences of women during the uprisings, leading up to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Female engagement in political confrontation throughout the Middle East is a highly under researched topic, and this book is a crucial contribution to the field.
Women have a lot to say — or write. Contemporary fiction is currently filled to the brim with smart and savvy female authors blowing readers away with their debuts. If these authors aren’t on your shelf already, go ahead and assume that they will be by the time you reach the end of this list. Here are a few incredible modern storytellers that you need to know.
1. Sally Rooney
If you haven’t heard the name, Sally Rooney, you may have seen one of novels — Conversations with Friends or Normal People —on Instagram, where they have become quite the staple for ‘bookstagram’ users. Meanwhile, she is also receiving rave reviews from critics and winning awards for her works, including the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year. With both readers and critics commending this 28-year-old’s two recent novels, you be wondering if she is overhyped — reader, she is not. Rooney’s writing is quiet, yet striking. It’s relatable, yet challenging. Her novels about the everyday lives of young, smart people are slow burners, while also somehow being page turners. Rooney is worth every bit of the hype, pick up one of her books already.
2. Elif Batuman
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Another highly praised writer, Batuman is the author of debut novel, The Idiot, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2018. The Idiot follows Harvard freshman Selin in her first year, during which she meets and begins an email correspondence with an older student, Ivan. It is captivating to experience Selin struggle to work out her feelings for Ivan in conjunction to adjusting to adult life. Batuman’s characters are radiantly real — flawed and often naive, but compelling and visceral all the same. Batuman also has a collection of essays entitled The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.
3. Candice Carty-Williams
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The titular protagonist of Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie, is one of those characters that you desperately want to be friends with. Tired of not seeing herself depicted in contemporary media and fiction, Carty-Williams molded the character of Queenie, a Jamaican British woman living in London, struggling with her job, her relationships. Not only does Carty-Williams expertly convey the personal and intimate, but tackles the larger scale societalissues that affect individuals. From fetishization within interracial dating to gentrification, Queenie experiences it all — as does the reader.
4. R.O. Kwon
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The Washington Post claims that Kwon “doesn’t make it easy to get her debut out of your system.” The debut in question, The Incendiaries, follows two college freshmen, one of whom becomes involved with an extremist religious cult tied to North Korea. With an unconventional structure — told via a stream-of-consciousness-like regaining of memories — Kwon pulls the reader in by keeping them at bay. Yet, even with the method of distancing, readers are able to connect deeply with the characters and their actions. It’s a contradicting experience of a novel well worth diving into.
5. Kristen Roupenian
The author of “Cat Person” has written more than just “Cat Person.” Roupenian quickly rose to fame in late 2017 when her short story, “Cat Person,” was published in The New Yorker and quickly became the second most read story of the year on the popular site, despite being published in the December issue. After receiving a $1.2 million advance for a collection of short stories, she published You Know You Want This early this year. The result is a group of smart and fascinatingly dark short stories. These stories are not “Cat Person” from different angles, but rather a group of versatile and sharply contrasted pieces showcasing Roupenian’s abilities. And yet, the keen observation and sharp prose of “Cat Person” are consistently present. Readers are able to get just as lost in each of these worlds as millions of readers did with Margot and her cat person date, Robert.
Girl power! Women have dominated the Man Booker International Shortlist, with five female authors and an all-female cast of translators up for the £50,000 prize. According to this article from the Guardian have never so many women shortlisted before, with the prestigious award in fiction having underrepresented women in the past but has never had some many women shortlisted before. Women authors have been systematically underrepresented in translation before but the chief judges of this latest gathering claim the dominance of women was merely a ‘happy coincidence’ and ‘not political.’
Gloria Steinem is one of the most influential and prominent figures in second-wave feminism and marched alongside greats like Dr. Maya Angelou. She made a massive contribution to American feminism from the 60s to the 70s, and continues to influence change in the era of #MeToo and Times Up. It may be her eighty-fifth birthday, but she is not slowing down, and has she is also heavily involved in these recent movements as well.
It’s tough being a woman who doesn’t want kids and it shouldn’t have to be. We compiled a list of books for women who are proud of their decision, or for those who are thinking about not wanting kids, try these reads before making your decision, or you can see these books to help you with your choice. Book Riot, and Hello Giggles influenced some of these book choices. Happy Women’s History Month, to every woman and her choices!
After years of soul-searching, Jeanne Safer made the conscious decision not to have children. In this book, Safer and women across the country share insights that dispel the myth of childless women as emotionally barren or incomplete, and encourage all women to honestly confront their needs–whether they choose motherhood or not.
In this instant New York Times bestseller that’s “boldly funny without being anti-mom” (In Touch), comedian and Chelsea Lately regular Jen Kirkman champions every woman’s right to follow her own path—even if that means being “childfree by choice.”
In her debut memoir, actress and comedian Jen Kirkman delves into her off-camera life with the same snarky sensitivity and oddball humor she brings to her sold-out standup shows and the Chelsea Lately round-table, where she is a writer and regular performer. As a woman of a certain age who has no desire to start a family, Jen often finds herself confronted (by friends, family, and total strangers) about her decision to be “childfree by choice.” I Can Barely Take Care of Myself offers honest and hilarious responses to questions like “Who will take care of you when you get old?” (Servants!) and a peek into the psyche—and weird and wonderful life—of a woman who has always marched to the beat of a different drummer and is pretty sure she’s not gonna change her mind, but thanks for your concern.
In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation.
In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.
Motherhood is a courageous, keenly felt, and starkly original novel that will surely spark lively conversations about womanhood, parenthood, and about how―and for whom―to live.
One of the main topics of cultural conversation during the last decade was the supposed “fertility crisis,” and whether modern women could figure out a way to have it all-a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children-before their biological clock stopped ticking. Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it’s necessary to have it all (see Anne-Marie Slaughter) or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.
In this provocative and controversial collection of essays, curated by writer Meghan Daum, sixteen acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew parenthood. Contributors include Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christiensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, who will give a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed makes a thoughtful and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path in life, taking our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. What emerges is a more nuanced, diverse view of what it means to live a full, satisfying life.
Statistics say that one in 10 women has no intention of taking the plunge into motherhood. Nobody’s Mother is a collection of stories by women who have already made this choice. From introspective to humorous to rabble-rousing, these are personal stories that are well and honestly told. The writers range in age from early 30s to mid-70s and come from diverse backgrounds. All have thought long and hard about the role of motherhood, their own destinies, what mothering means in our society and what their choice means to them as individuals and as members of their ethnic communities or social groups. Contributors include: Nancy Baron, a zoologist and science writer who works in the United States for eaWeb/COMPASS and has won two Science in Society awards, a National Magazine Award and a Western Magazine Award for Science. Lorna Crozier, well-known poet and the author of a dozen books, as well as the recipient of a Governor General’s award and numerous other writing prizes.