3 books that helped Susan Juby examine feminism today
It's been half a century since feminism became a widely used term — and it's still a loaded word. What does it mean? Who is a feminist? And why, in this particular moment, is there so much anti-feminist rhetoric rising to the surface?
The Next Chapter columnist Susan Juby thinks it's a good time to dig into this with the help of Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman, F-Bomb by Lauren McKeon and One Day We'll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
"Caitlin Moran is a bracingly funny feminist — yes, there is such a thing. She wrote her first book when she was 15 years old, later worked as a journalist and 21 years after that first book she wrote How to Be a Woman. The book is an irreverent and personal polemic about the continuing relevance of feminism to women's lives. This is not a learned treatise on the state of woman. The book is a series of essays about coming of age and how she feels about her body. She writes about love with great charm, but she also writes about difficult subjects like reproductive rights. She's so funny, warm and accessible that it's easy to lose sight of how ferocious an advocate for women she is."
F-Bomb by Lauren McKeon
"McKeon explains that fewer and fewer women identify as feminists. She describes a poll in Canada in which only 17 per cent of women said they strongly identified as feminists. McKeon feels this is because people feel the battle for equal rights has been won. Unfortunately, as she goes on to show, that is not the case — there is persistent wage inequality and sexual violence is endemic. She also talks about the problems inside feminism in a thoughtful way, like generational divides. She has a very brisk, clear style — she is direct in her writing and investigation."
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
"This memoir looks what it means to be a Canadian woman of colour and an outspoken feminist through a series of essays. Her parents immigrated from Kashmir, India and the book goes from Calgary and Toronto to India. She explores the aftershocks of immigration and something called 'shadism' and how skin colour influences life in Indian Canada. It's very funny. Koul also takes the reader through her journey on Twitter because she says that when she sends her writing out into the world, she doesn't want to be left out of the conversation that follows. That is such a good message — we all need to be part of the conversation, even when it is difficult."
Susan Juby's comments have been edited and condensed.