Ooooh, did I touch a hot button subject? Because I have to you tell you, I am a feminist. For me, feminism simply means that women are free to make choices: to vote, to participate in government, to have equal pay, and equal chances at jobs, to be free to work or stay home if they have kids, or in today’s dynamic world, some flexible combination of both, to marry or not, to be moms or not.
Feminism to me means I can be proud to be a woman, I can embrace who I am and the choices I make, and others cannot browbeat me for them.
Now, when I was a kid this was not such a big deal. Of course, it was the 70s and, of course, I come from a really long line of women who actually wore the pants in the family, even when walking in the light of conservatism. I owe a lot of that to mom and my sister, who were very strong women and who did not, for the most part, put up with nonsense.
(Note: If you’re wondering whether that’s at odds with me being a Christian, I counter that Jesus was one of the few men in ancient history who talked to and respected women, in the way we think of respect today. Women were leaders in the early church, at a time when they still were rarely leaders elsewhere.)
As a mom to two budding feminists and future avid readers, I’d like to see more YA books that offer what I love in adult fiction: strong, female protagonists who can stand on their own. This month’s issue of Ms. Magazine picks picks 11 Feminist Must-Reads for tween and teen girls. Shockingly, I’ve only read two and both are HIGH on my list of favs, one a classic, the other the book that sparked my interest in scifi and time travel.
The article, by Jessica Stites, covers early books that spark our interest, from the happily-married endings of Jane Austen’s spirited characters, to the complex love and relationships covered in another of my favorites, the Mists of Avalon. Stites writes, “What most of these books have in common is a certain kind of hero(ine): young, brave, rebellious and independent.” Exactly like the characters I write.
The article discusses the current boom of YA, outside the classroom, where kids in many schools are still stuck in traditional, male-based classics, such as “Catcher in the Rye”. The growing popularity of films like “Twilight”, which in my opinion doesn’t exactly embrace feminism, however, has sparked the scifi/fantasy YA genre – and strong women are coming out every where.
Stites doesn’t stop there, though. Those genres are less effective “at showcasing protagonists of color”. A whole new crop of books, then, has grown to answer that question. Check out this month’s issue of Ms. Magazine and see how many on the list you’ve read.
Share: what books are you sharing with your girls that show strong, feminine protagonists?