International Women's Day
Here come the girls…. International Women’s Day takes place on the 8 of March this year, following on the heels of Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising campaign. Here are a few suggestions for a mix of contemporary, historical, social, artistic, and political takes on women’s lives, interests, and issues.
How to be a woman Caitlin Moran’s hilariously funny view of her life from the age of 13, relating everything that’s happened to her to the wider context of how to be a woman in today’s world. Tracey Emin’s biography Strangeland is, as you’d expect from her, very candid and straight-talking, and gives a real insight into the shaping of her unique personality. Our stories, our visions Ten set questions given to 40 influential women, ranging from Benazir Bhutto to Judi Dench to Kim Phuc, the girl in the award-winning Vietnam War napalm photo.
For a global angle on women’s issues, try Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novel in which Satrapi’s Iranian grandmother dishes out blunt and earthy advice to friends and family on a variety of topics. Lots of good one-liners! Wild swans by Jung Chang is 20th century China seen through the eyes of three generations of women, beginning with Chang’s grandmother, concubine to a warlord; while Desert flower is Waris Dirie’s account of growing up in Somalia.
For films, try The weight of water, directed by Katheryn Bigelow, the first woman to receive an Oscar for directing; or the acclaimed Winter’s bone, directed by Debra Granik and starring Jennifer Lawrence; or for something lighter, Nora Ephron's Julie and Julia.
Feminism fell out of favour for a couple of decades, but is gradually gaining ground again, as celeb culture, size zeros and cosmetic surgery start to lose their appeal. If you want to learn more about the politics of feminism, your local library holds a range of feminist texts, both classic – de Beauvoir’s The second sex, Greer’s The female eunuch, or the grandmother of them all, Wollstonecraft’s A vindication of the rights of women – and modern: try Reclaiming the F word by Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune, a punchy, celebratory look at contemporary feminism; or Living dolls by Natasha Walter, examining the influence of media stereotyping.