Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Things I Learned Reading Women for Three Months

Rocklea Queensland
Flickr Credit: darkday
MASTER HAS GIVEN DOBBY AUGUST. DOBBY IS FREE!

For those just tuning in to my blog, I just finished a reading challenge. May, June, and July, I read books only by women (with one exception). I sought graphic novels, audiobooks, and eBooks that put a huge dent in my TBR. It was a great experience—these are some of the best things about it.

1. I Didn’t Miss Out on Anything

If you fear I limited myself by reading “genres that women write,” don’t worry. Women write everything. Whether I wanted paranormal or dieselpunk, romance or speculative, autobiography or essays, I had plenty of options. Even if I looked for misogynistic judgery, I could (and did) find works that met the bill.

2. Women Know How to Write Women

Not all women write female characters well, but in general? They’ve got it down. I felt dissatisfied with the female characters when I experienced a higher intake of male voices—women were boring or perfect or nonexistent. I got a lot less of that this summer.

3. Women are Imperfect

On the one hand, duh. But hear me out: a challenge like this can appear to put women and their writing on a pedestal. But I still found problematic portrayals of marginalized people. I still read lackluster prose. I still found books I regretted reading. I don’t want to say that’s all okay—it shouldn’t be—but women are human. Authors screw up regardless of gender.

4. This Exercise Has its Limits

I made use of this summer to fix a problem in my reading habits. I enjoyed it—but just because I fixed one problem doesn’t mean I fixed them all. I’m disappointed that I didn’t dig into books with Muslim, Latina, or Native POVs, when I could and should have. I’ll have to seek those books out in the coming months, instead—I need to make room for their voices, too.

5. Priorities are Everything

I began thinking I would also seek out films to watch with female directors, just for kicks. “For kicks” is a phrase of silliness—since I didn’t make it a goal, I didn’t make a point of meeting it. I preferred to watch Psych and Supernatural. Even if I preferred a book by a male author, I prioritized thirty books that met certain criteria. I met or exceeded my goals on all counts. Priorities made the difference.

6. This is Something I Would Encourage Other People to Do

Sometimes this was a little tough, but mostly? I had a lot of fun. I got to read so many voices from a variety of backgrounds, and I’d do this exercise again. Maybe I’ll pick a marginalized group next time. Even if you don’t want to read women or do it for three months, I’d still encourage you to try focusing your reads on an area where you need to be more educated or compassionate. Reading makes that possible—go for it!


There’s this quote in A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf… “For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately. And I must also consider her—this unknown woman—as the descendant of all those other women whose circumstances I have been glancing at and see what she inherits of their characteristics and restrictions.” In other words, women writers pass things on to one another. It creates a literary history and it creates new women writers, all of whom share a history of struggle, some of whom face greater struggles now and for the foreseeable future.

I like belonging to that. And I like knowing that I spent my summer inheriting those lessons.


Did you learn anything interesting while reading this summer? 


12 comments :

  1. Ooh, congrats on finishing your challenge! I honestly just read whatever falls in my lap these days haha, but I think I read about at least 70% by female authors. Just by default. I feel like there are a lot of female authors in YA. Which is awesome. *nods* And it's weird but I can always tell when it's a male author writing a female POV. It's not to say they can't do it, it's just to say I can always tell hahah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you've mentioned that before, but I agree. It seems like female authors tend to dominate YA, and that is great. XD And I know what you mean. It is very easy to tell in those times, lol.

      Delete
  2. I like the idea of this challenge! I think most of the books I read are by female authors anyway - YA is very heavily dominated by women. Although whether those women get literary awards is another thing -_-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, and women are very great at writing YA! But yeah, getting those literary awards is different. I also wonder about whether women are fairly advertised in proportion to the numbers that are published, but I don't have any data to support any thoughts on that plane.

      Delete
  3. What a great challenge! I have to admit I don't really pay attention to the gender of the author, but I think I read mostly female authors if I try to think about it. I read a lot of YA contemporary and chicklit. Fantasy is where the male authors come in, I expect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *nods* It can always be interesting to see what you naturally gear towards. You're right that male authors do have a larger role in the fantasy and sci-fi arenas, though.

      Delete
  4. This was rather interesting. I'm also disappointed that you didn't get to read about Muslim, Latina and Native American women when you wanted too. Well, at least this was a good experience, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, but you're right, it was still a good experience. I'm already preparing a few titles to fill those gaps a little later on this year! :)

      Delete
  5. Congratulations on finishing your challenge! I would love to do something like this, and I really enjoyed reading your points! (Also, A Room Of One's Own is an amazing read. Virginia Woolf! :))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! If you ever decide to do it, I hope you had as good a time I did. :) (Woot woot! Woolf is the bomb dot com!)

      Delete
  6. This was such a cool challenge! I'd love to give it a go at some point :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know I liked it. :) Please let us know how it goes for you if you decide to try it.

      Delete

Check it out, comments and stuff. I love to hear from readers, and I always respond to commenters! Here's the fun part—if you leave a link to your blog I'll show up and comment back. I have just one rule down here: Don't Be a Problem. This spans the entire umbrella of rudeness and crudeness, so I reiterate: Don't Be a Problem. Thanks for stopping by!