Sunday Seven: 7 of my Famous Feminist Heroes

This week I’ve been working on my dissertation, doing hours or reading on being a woman. On what a woman is, about feminism, motherhood and work. My dissertation may be on Plath, but the research goes further than that and it’s got me thinking about some of the famous feminists I look up to. So for this Sunday Seven I want to celebrate some of the most awesome feminists around.

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1. Malala Yousafzai

I don’t think there’s anyone who embodies the spirit of feminism like Malala. Even after the Taliban attempted to murder her, she carried on and made her voice louder than ever on an international stage. Malala stands for something that every feminist, I think, should fight for. Equal education for girls in all areas of the world. Malala’s story reminded us all that just because we have these things in the Western world does not mean we can take them for granted. Equal education should be for every child around the world, regardless of gender.

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2. Jennifer Lawrence

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of The Hunger Games I caught on early that Jennifer Lawrence was something incredible. Not only does she not pretend to be an always glam, super cool actress, she reminds all of us she is just another woman. The quote above really hits home that alongside acting, Jennifer wants to change the way women are viewed by the media and the pay gap. Her, quite frankly, brave piece about why she gets paid less than her male costars made headlines around the world. I say brave because it could have made her career suffer. It could have meant that the film industry refused to work with her and that her fear of being called ‘difficult’ or ‘spoilt’ had come true. She make a point though and by raising this issue in public, she puts it in the spotlight for the rest of us in ‘normal’ jobs too. It get’s people talking, and that’s exactly what we need to do.

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3. Laura bates

While Laura might not be known internationally, she is a force to be reckoned with in the UK. Her Ted Talk and book of the same name ‘Everyday Sexism’ is an incredible piece of work. Personally, I read this and felt both sad and strengthened. I realised that it was ok to get pissed off when someone touched me, made me out to be just a sexual object or made fun of me for my gender. I basically did a U turn on a lot of things because I read her research, her statistics and her stats, I talked about things I’d never thought I could before  and it was all because of Laura. download (1)

4. Emma Watson

Again, a huge reason that I am now such a proud feminist. Emma’s He for She speech spoke to me as someone who didn’t want to use the label feminist and who resisted it at all costs.Emma is one of the amazing women of my generation who is reclaiming the word and what feminism means, as well as talking about real equality between the sexes. 0f6d1ce1e7f99e8b5a2be97b77a0ab8e

5. Sylvia Plath

There are a lot of arguments about whether or not Plath is a feminist. She is to me because she acknowledges the struggle between wanting a family and wanting a career. She believes she can be anything, but she also has self doubt. Her work on the 1950s and 1960s and the attitude towards women is something really incredible, as is the character of Esther in The Bell Jar. Plath is one of my heroes because she isn’t perfect and she doesn’t 100% seem to know what she believes, she changes her mind as as she gets older and I can’t help but resonate with that.

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6. Caitlin Moran

I have to include the woman who had me walking/ hobbling around my house shouting ‘I’m a feminist’, while clutching a copy of her book. Ah Caitlin Moran, what has the world done to deserve you. I’d read how to be a woman when I was about 12 and thought it was weird and terrifying and ended up throwing it in a fit of grossness. Fast forward to the age of 21 and it’s one of my favourite books. It’s funny, honest and makes you think. It’s thanks to Caitlin I am a feminist, I am a proud feminist and that I’m not afraid to say it loudly to anyone. All her other books are amazing too.

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7. J.K Rowling

Think about the women in the Harry Potter series they are almost all strong, independent and good. The fact that one of the main characters in one of the biggest selling series’ of all time was a girl with bushy hair, big teeth and a love for books,  while being friends with two boys and the smartest witch of her age. It gave those of us who didn’t always fit in someone to read about who was like us, it made being the smart girl cool! Women were not weak in the Harry Potter books (unlike some of the movies), they were often the strength and intelligence. For a lot of girls, she changed the way they saw themselves and saw the world, including me.

 

 

I do not own any of these images, they are the products of very talented people I found online. 

Book Review: How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

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“In the end, I go where I always go when I need information on something baffling, poisonous, or terrifying: the library.”

Influenced by Moran’s own life, How to Build a Girl follows teenager Johanna as she decides to ‘kill herself’, meaning killing the boring Johanna and instead becoming Dolly Wilde. Dolly Wilde is meant to be interesting, covered in eyeliner, smart and generally more desirable than what Johanna has been. Although as all of us who have tried to change ourselves as teenagers  will know, it doesn’t always work out how you planned ( I myself went through a phase of hating my name and trying to get everyone to call me Frankie…a shortened version of my middle name).

While this is not Moran’s autobiography, anyone who has read How to Be a Woman will see that Caitlin’s younger life does have a number of parallels (which she addresses before the start of the novel). This isn’t lazy writing, while the similarities are obvious such as Johanna living in a small flat with a lot of siblings and her ambition to be a writer, the character is definitely her own person and absolutely hilarious. To draw one last parallel, the novel talks a lot about masterbation, so much so it opens with Johanna masterbating…in somewhat questionable circumstances.

For anyone who’s ever felt like the odd one out or anyone who’s wished they could just become someone else, you’ll like the character. She’s young and headstrong but also incredibly funny. Most of all though, she’s a teenager who’s trying to get through her life and work out what she’s going to do with it. The only person really at her side the whole time is the dog, as she doesn’t have many friends. In fact she sends a lot of time being yelled at by the local yobs. After thinking she’s gotten her family into big trouble, Johanna needs to get money fast and so she has to come up with a plan using one of the few talents she has.

To go further than that would ruin the fun of How to Build a Girl. I will say though that Moran’s wit comes through just as strong in this novel. It’s also fun and nostalgic to see the world through the eyes of a young teenager again and that sense of being able to  just decide to do something and work out how it’s all going to work out later. One of the best things about Johanna though is that because she is flawed is what creates a loveable character. She gets into all kinds of mischief throughout, but at the end of the day there is a big heart too and a real love for the family who sometimes drives her mad.

I gave How to Build a Girl five stars *****. If you’ve read any other books or articles by Moran it’s very much in the same chatty style and doesn’t hold back from what she thinks. The best part is that How to Build a Girl is also supposed to be the first in a trilogy! Johanna is set to come back for more and if, like me, you can’t wait for more Moran after this her new book Moranfesto comes out next week (I’m not sponsored, just super excited). It really is an entertaining read and worth picking up the next time you’re in a bookshop!

Sunday Seven – Seven Reviews that are coming your way! 21st Feb

This week I’ve had a great response to my book reviews and as a result I got really excited about what’s coming up. For this week’s Sunday Seven I thought I’d share 7 books I have that will be reviewed in the coming weeks and months!

I have a lot more non fiction coming up in the coming months. People’s lives, particularly those who have faced adversity are fascinating to me. There’s a real mix in the books above from prison memoirs, to body, mind and soul and some which will leave your sides aching from laughing so hard.

  1. Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman. A lot people don’t know this was a memoir first and it’s absolutely fantastic.
  2. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran. Caitlin’s fiction is just as hilarious as her non-fiction, if you liked How to Build a Girl, you’re going to love this.
  3. Why Not Me – Mindy Kaling. One of the biggest blog posts of this week was my review of Mindy’s first book, all I can say is this book was even better than her first.
  4. Room – Emma Donoghue. This has been EVERYWHERE during awards season, I haven’t seen the film but I absolutely loved the book. Haunting, fascinating and brilliantly written.
  5. Strong Looks Better Naked – Khloe Kardashian. A lot of people will judge this book, literally by it’s cover but for someone (me) who’s going through a big transition and trying to make body, mind and soul more healthy, Khloe has a lot to say.
  6. After Auschwitz- Eva Schloss. The big selling point to this book is that Eva is Anne Franks step-sister. Anne’s father Otto married Eva’s mother after the war. As well as it being interesting to see how someone survives the horror of the concentration camps, it was also lovely to hear about Otto after Anne’s diary ended.
  7. Hope in a Ballet Shoe – Michaela & Elaine DePrince. This story is so important right now, because it shows what can come of taking in a child refugee. A story of determination, hope and love.