Welcome to International Women’s Day 2017 at Book Riot

International Women’s Day always feels timely; to say that this year it feels more timely than ever is to repeat ourselves from last year. And yet, women’s lives, rights, and livelihood are under serious and continued threat. Planned Parenthood, a mainstay of access for many women to basic and lifesaving healthcare, is facing serious plans to defund it. President Trump not only reinstated but expanded the “global gag rule,” which blocks US federal funding for non-governmental organizations that include abortion counseling or referrals, potentially costing worldwide health programs $9.5 billion dollars. His administration withdrew guidance to schools regarding transgender students’ right to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. To put this in perspective, there are no statistics for transgender persons harassing others in restrooms, while 12% of transgender youth reported being sexually assaulted in school settings in 2011. Globally, women earn 24% less than men, and at the current rate of progress (assuming we continue to make any), it will take till 2069 to close that gap. In literary news, the winners of the 2016 National Book Awards were all men, continuing the industry’s gender gap for rewarding authors’ work. A recent essay by Bonnie Nadzam reminded us that women are still routinely harassed and abused, both emotionally and physically, by acclaimed men in the publishing industry. This is, of course, just a reflection of a much broader problem: one in four women have been victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (and women with disabilities are even more likely to experience domestic violence than those without).

Recently, a listener of the Get Booked podcast wrote in asking for books to help convince a male friend that feminism is still necessary. While we have many great books to recommend, I present the above paragraph as back-up. I present the Women’s March on Washington, which may have been the largest protest in US history. I present the Women’s Strike, in honor of which we are celebrating IWD a day late. And I present a few highlights of the past year, where we did actually see change. In pop culture, Hidden Figures brought us the story of the black women who made the space program possible. Roxane Gay was hired as Marvel’s first black female writer. There are a record number of women of color serving in Congress this year: 35 Democrats and three Republicans. To put that in perspective, there are 535 voting members of Congress, 104 (or 19%) of which are women. As of 2015, women were 49% of the global population. Feminism’s goal is to bring about the social, political, and economic equality of all genders. Until those numbers match up, until millions of women don’t feel compelled to take to the streets, until we’re not still “discovering” women’s contributions to history, until we’re done with “first”s and “only”s, until our opportunities and safety match those of our male peers, we need feminism.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, and this year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change.” So today on Book Riot, we’re delighted to present bold women writing about the things that are important to them. Heroines, fandom, body image, queer literature; the topics vary as widely as our writers’ tastes, personalities, and geographic locations. Read, get inspired, and join us in continuing to strive for the changes that will make our world truly equal.

To Reach The Farthest Sea

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. This is a guest post from Bae Suah. One of the most highly acclaimed contemporary Korean authors, she has published more than a dozen works and won several prestigious awards. She has also translated several books from the German, including works by W. G. Sebald, Franz Kafka, and Jenny Erpenbeck. Her most recent novel is Recitation.   Writing is as challenging and fascinating an adventure as being a woman. I love them both, writing and being a woman, although it has made life sometimes tougher. Maybe...Continue Reading

Double Erasure: Latin American Women Writers

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. Quick, name the first ten Latin American authors that come to mind. Ready? Now tell me how many women there are in the list. Is your list male-dominated? For most people, it will be. In fact, even a good deal of enthusiastic readers will struggle for a moment or two to come up with ten Latin American authors in the first place. And when they do, nine out of ten will probably be male. Women writers to the south of Bravo River all too often...Continue Reading

5 Books by Queer Women

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. International Women's Day has been marked for over 100 years, but the way we think about it has changed. Originally, the day was meant to be one where women would come together and present their demands to their governments. Where I grew up, this was never clear to me; instead, the day felt more like Token Appreciation Day, where women were given lip service (not the good kind) by politicians and celebrities. Now more than ever, though, we must protect the rights of women and...Continue Reading

Books for the Jewish Feminist

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. I am a feminist. I'm also a Jew. While I'm not super-observant, I did go to religious school for almost 10 years, am fluent in Hebrew, and am raising my son Jewish. Like many people, no matter what their faith, I've gone through periods of questioning and examination, especially when looking at how my feminism intersects with my faith. There are no easy answers, and most of the time, I've found that my answer is fluid, and rarely static. The fun is in learning more...Continue Reading

5 Latin American Women Authors to Read Right Now

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. It’s no surprise that Latin American women authors have had to deal with the same obstacles as their North American counterparts: structural barriers in the industry, institutional erasure, your run-of-the-mill sexism. Nevertheless, they persisted, and recent years have seen a crop of celebrated female writers pushing the boundaries of the region’s literary production. Here is a list of some of the fierce ladies that are making their mark. Rita Indiana The chameleonic Indiana could easily be one of the unforgettable characters in her novels: eclectic...Continue Reading

Welcome to International Women’s Day 2017 at Book Riot

International Women’s Day always feels timely; to say that this year it feels more timely than ever is to repeat ourselves from last year. And yet, women’s lives, rights, and livelihood are under serious and continued threat. Planned Parenthood, a mainstay of access for many women to basic and lifesaving healthcare, is facing serious plans to defund it. President Trump not only reinstated but expanded the “global gag rule,” which blocks US federal funding for non-governmental organizations that include abortion counseling or referrals, potentially costing worldwide health programs $9.5 billion dollars. His administration withdrew guidance to schools regarding transgender students’...Continue Reading

Must-Read Black Feminist Literature

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. Let's pay homage to the pioneering black women who were magical before the inspiration of the hashtag, and to those among us today whose sharp use of words continue to illuminate and provoke. Here are a few texts (merely a drop in the bucket) of black feminist literature to ponder for International Women's Day. If you don't see your favorite here, share it! Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks - This groundbreaking, classic, required reading for feminists, regardless of race,...Continue Reading

Romance Without Feminism is No Longer an Option

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. My name is Jessica, and I’m a romance lover. It’s been less than twenty four hours since my last romance-reading experience. I’m also a feminist. These two are not mutually exclusive, and anyone who tells you different knows nothing about romance. Or feminism. This has not always been the case. Some authors I have read over the years have done some very much not-cool things in their writing, including marital (and premarital) rape, master/slave romances, and other types of actions and relationships that are not...Continue Reading

Flaunt Your Lady Love, Book Fetish Style

This post is sponsored by Gilded Cage by Vic James. The world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. Our heroes are a brother and sister who are brought to serve Britain's most powerful family. It's upstairs-downstairs drama; beautiful and wicked aristocrats romancing rebellious commoners; and an epic of politics, passion, and revolution. Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved. This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration....Continue Reading

Feminist Middle Grade Books

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. I love Kelly Jensen's wonderful feminist anthology, Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World. If you haven't read it yet, get it now! In her introduction, Jensen writes, "What unites feminists is the belief that every person—regardless of gender, class, education, race, sexuality, or ability—deserves equality." Reading Jensen's words has made me think about how children are shaped by the literature they read. And then I came across an interview in Poets and Writers Magazine with the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang. He said, "There are studies...Continue Reading

Madonna and the Madwoman: On the Women of Jose Rizal’s Classic Noli Me Tangere

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. The Philippines has always been a country of contradictions, a place held between the lauded traditions of the Spanish Catholic church and the hidden scars of colonialism. To this day, the tension continues to influence Filipino society. It’s not difficult to find churches next to billboards advertising the next new skin whitening treatment, both aimed at Filipino women. This insidious contradiction of vanity and faith is on full display in the seminal Filipino novel, Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. Written just before the Filipino...Continue Reading

5 Women of Color Who Are Changing The World For The Better

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. This is a guest post from Keah Brown. She reads a lot of books and watches far too much TV. Music is her third favorite thing after cheesecake and pizza of course. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Literary Hub, Catapult, and Lenny Letter among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @Keah_Maria. Books were my first friends. I’d find refuge in the pages of blank ink pressed on white pages when I started thinking too much, when my body began to ache after a...Continue Reading

Fiction That Breaks Sexist and Racist Stereotypes

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. All over the world, women are breaking away from the neat societal boxes that the shackles of relativist culture or tradition have placed them in. It is truly a wonderful time to be alive when moving away from normative societal values, and breaking stereotypes is something that is happening all over the world. Whether it is India, where women are fighting to reclaim public spaces, or in the USA where women are protesting to reclaim their bodies, it is unique time to celebrate the fact...Continue Reading

On Writing as a Woman

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. I am a woman. I am also a writer. Some may call me a woman writer for that reason. If I write mainstream novels or attempt to, people will view my writing as written by a woman. But what does that mean? Women's writing can refer to an academic specialty. It can be an English literature course, a shelf at Barnes and Noble with a large printed label, or simply books written by women. It can also be a multifaceted, controversial social media discussion and exploration....Continue Reading

4 French Feminist Writers Celebrating Women

This post is part of our International Women’s Day celebration. See all the posts here. I’m not much of a Francophile. Despite what numerous books and articles claim, I’ve never been entirely convinced that French women do (insert random thing here) better than the rest of us. But I am rather fond of their laissez faire style of  feminism. You have the famous French feminist theorists, like Simone de Beauvoir, Helene Cixous and Virginie Despentes. But you also have the everyday feminist women writers whose books don’t explain theory so much as demonstrate it. Below are four books celebrating women. None of...Continue Reading

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