Here’s another batch of books relevant to women’s issues and feminism. One, which may stick out, is an Italian novel that has a strong protagonist who makes a traditionally “unfeminist” decision, maybe of her own accord or maybe due to societal pressure. Either way, it’s a thought-provoking read and a look at the “ruoli di genere” in Italy after WWII and the height of fascism.
Trigger warning: as the name implies, Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict addresses some of the burdens and abuses (sexual, physical, emotional, and economic) that women specifically face in war. It is an academic text, but still a difficult read.
La ragazza di Bube (Bube’s Girl) by: Carlo Cassola
Blurb: “A woman is bound by integrity to wait for the man she loves, a man convicted for political murder.”
Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict by: Janie Leatherman
Blurb: “This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the causes, consequences and responses to sexual violence in contemporary armed conflict. It explores the function and effect of wartime sexual violence and examines the conditions that make women and girls most vulnerable to these acts both before, during and after conflict. To understand the motivations of the men (and occasionally women) who perpetrate this violence, the book analyzes the role played by systemic and situational factors such as patriarchy and militarized masculinity. Difficult questions of accountability are tackled; in particular, the case of soldiers, who often suffer a double victimization when forced to commit sexual atrocities. The book concludes by looking at strategies of prevention and protection as well as new programs being set up on the ground to support the rehabilitation of survivors and their communities. Sexual violence in war has long been a taboo subject but, as this book shows, new and courageous steps are at last being taken at both the local and international level – to end what has been called the “greatest silence in history.””
Hidden Figures by: Margot Lee Shatterley
Blurb: “Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women. Originally math teachers in the South’s segregated public schools, these gifted professionals answered Uncle Sam’s call during the labor shortages of World War II. With new jobs at the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, they finally had a shot at jobs that would push their skills to the limits. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden – four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.”
I Do It With the Lights On by: Whitney Way Thore
Blurb: ‘Whitney Way Thore stands five feet two inches tall and weighs well over three hundred pounds and she is totally, completely, and truly….happy. But she wasn’t always the vivacious, confident woman you see on TV. Growing up as a dancer, Whitney felt the pressure to be thin, a desire that grew into an obsession as she got older. From developing an eating disorder as a teenager, to extreme weight gain in college, to her ongoing struggle with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Whitney reveals her fight to overcome the dark moments in her life. She holds nothing back, opening up about the depths of her depression as well as her resilience in the face of constant harassment and mistreatment. Exuberant and utterly honest, I Do It With the Lights On is the inspiring story of how Whitney finally discovered her fabulousness when she stepped off the scale and into her life, embracing herself unconditionally – body, heart, and soul.”
You Can’t Touch My Hair by: Phoebe Robinson
Blurb: “Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that…white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page – and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.”