Maybe it ‘s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s because my eyes are more open, maybe it’s because the situation has gotten so bad that I just can’t help but notice that we, women, have to fight all day, every day, if we want to achieve our goals. Harder than men, that is. Am I stating the obvious? Of course, but I wanted to emphasize the fact that I never felt truly discriminated as a woman until a few years back, when I realized how many things were different for me when compared to my male coworkers. Nor did I perceive how many times I was letting myself down by being sexist. Me? Yes! Here, as in every aspect of our lives, it’s in the little things… I was allowing and encouraging some absurd behaviors and I think I’m not the only one that has done this. But somehow it comes a time in every woman’s life when she just opens her eyes and from that moment on there’s no way back.
I’ve always consider myself a feminist. When I was a kid and all my cousins would be eating together my grandmother (a very liberal and tolerant woman, but a woman of her time all in all) would tell me to bring dessert/ another spoon / whatever to my male cousins so that they don’t have to get up. I would push my glasses up my nose, complain, get up… and bring dessert for myself and told them to grab theirs if they wanted it. I obviously didn’t realized that was sexist, but somehow I knew it was wrong. The little things, see? A lot of years later, I got a job promotion after passing a couple of quite hard tests and a male colleague asked me who I slept with to get the job. He was kidding… but was he? So from one innocent incident to a very malicious remark, it’s always been there. And it’s always been hurtful. (Side note: I’ve always been privileged, with access to a good education, health care and a strong support network. I can’t imagine how this affects women in diffucult circumstances)
But pain turned into rage. And I answered the best way I know how to: reading. And just as I realized how I’ve always been aware of discrimination, I recognized that my shelves were always full of women empowerment books. It all started with Marian Keyes. The way I see it, her books are all about woman empowerment. Her books have helped me in different stressful moments of my life. They are funny, emotional and they make you feel hopeful and capable of changing your life, therefore, powerful.
I’ve been collecting and reading all kinds of books written by women. From graphic novels like Persépolis to novels like The invention of Wings. All levels, all backgrounds. You might have read or at least heard about the books pictured above. They have taken over the internet at some point, they have been the target of many critics and praises. In my opinion, what’s really important is that there are lots of women brave enough to give us all a voice. Sometimes we might not agree with them or even feel that they represent us, but surely we will identify with some chapters or ideas. Most of the times, we’ve been struggling with the same problems.
One of my favorite women empowerment books is Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. I can’t recommend it enough. After reading this book you will have more self-confidence to face the workplace as a woman. Guaranteed. It talks about her own experience in the corporate world and addresses most of the disadvantages and problematic situations that women encounter in the average working environment. But most importantly, she gives honest advice and proactive solutions. If you are a woman and you work, you have to read this book.
So, little but little, these books are making their way to the bestsellers lists, and that’s fantastic. I hope lots of women keep writing and lots of women keep reading. And now it’s your turn: any recommendations?