Jane Eyre is arguably one of my favourite books ever, which is an impressive statement for a bookworm. I am rarely seen without a book, and as such, I get through a lot. I have read some very misogynistic books, and some hugely feminist ones. Some of these modern, some classics. But the message throughout all feminist books is the same. As it is expressed so aptly by Brontë: we are humans too.
Ironically, all three of the Brontë sisters had to publish under male pseudonyms at first, as writing was deemed too bold a profession for respectable women. Luckily we have progressed from that point, and more and more independent women are writing modern literature.
In my opinion, ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ (Holly Bourne) is probably one of the best books for teens who want to learn about feminist issues, and while I am at it, I may as well recommend the rest of the series: ‘How Hard Can Love Be?’ and ‘What’s a girl gotta do?’. As it is so well stated in the first of the series:
‘Being a woman, in this world, ultimately makes you crazy.’
And it is true. If Evie doesn’t prove it, look at the rest of the world; look at all of the literature. Women are labelled as ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ because they are supposedly ‘hysterical’ (which, by the way, has some interesting word origins!). From Bertha in Jane Eyre to the way that Emma O’Donovan is perceived in ‘Asking For It’ (Louise O’Neill), these people are seen as insane because they do not fit the stereotypical characteristics of a woman. More worryingly is how it reflects the real world. There are more Evies, Berthas and Emmas than we think, and we label them on dated social constructs. Literature and society may have come a long way, but both still have more to give. So what can we do about it?
Firstly, we can read. A lot. As Dr Suess has said: ‘The more you read, the more you will know. The more you know the more places you’ll go!’ Learn about the world. Learn about how to fight. Learn who is fighting. To get you started, here are my top 5 (after very careful deliberation!) feminist fiction books:
- The Handmaids Tale (Margaret Atwood)
- The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)
- Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
- Girl Detached (Manuela Salvi)
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
- Maya Angelou (Still I’ll Rise)