Just as I start getting back into a regular writing schedule, I go on holiday! Typical, right? I thought about banging out multiple posts beforehand but I genuinely could not be bothered. I thought I’d use this opportunity to show off some of my favourite writers instead. And guuuuuuurl, what a line-up I have for you!
Kicking off the week of guest posts here at Cattitude & Co. is the amazing Emma from Eggplant Emoji. Some of my favourite posts of hers include: ‘Why the Kardashians deserve our respect‘, ‘The surprising feminism of Grease‘ and ‘How to swear like a feminist‘. Emma’s blog is everything a feminist bookworm could want and I couldn’t think of anyone better to show off first. Enjoy! xo
If you want to be a *serious reader*, you have to read a lot of words by men. When I typed “authors you must read” into Google, only one of the first fifty authors that came up was a woman. The rest? Old white dudes. Teenage girls totally absorbed by Twilight are scoffed at. “Go and read Ernest Hemingway,” we tell them. “Go and read Jack Kerouak, or Mark Twain, or Hunter S. Thompson. Then we’ll talk.”
Whatever opinions or criticisms or theories you’ve acquired from books so far don’t really matter—not until you’ve had them validated by some dead white man. The books you love are very sweet, darling, but they don’t exactly change the world, do they? Jane Austen doesn’t actually talk about anything real. J.R.R. Tolkein on the other hand? Now there’s a great writer.
This is what I learned growing up with books. At home, in my bedroom, I could lose myself in worlds created by Anne Tyler and Alice Walker and Maggie O’Farrell—but in the classroom, we stuck to William Golding. Because there’s *serious literature*—and then there’s women’s literature. One must not be confused with the other, darling, now go and read Judy Blume and don’t worry your little head about it.
When everyone’s telling you that the female authors and characters you adore are silly and frivolous—you believe it. You think that you’re silly and frivolous too. You think Lord of the Flies, which you’re studying for GCSE, is a work of genius—and you don’t even question why there’s nothing by Margaret Atwood on the curriculum. Because if there was, then what would the boys read? You barely even notice that there are no women in any of your set texts.
This year, I accidentally went six months without reading a single book by a man. It wasn’t a deliberate decision; I just had a lot of great female writers recommended to me. And when I did finally pick up a book by a male author—I realised something major had changed. It didn’t seem normal anymore. I had recalibrated. No longer did “male” equal “normal” and “woman” equal “niche”. I struggled to relate to the male protagonist—as his story was so different from the female-driven stories I’d been devouring for months. Different, but something else, too. His story was…boring.
Now, I’m in no way suggesting that there aren’t some fantastic male authors out there. Some of my favourite books are written by men, and there are wonderfully imaginative male authors who have a whole host of varied and complex stories to tell. But the inner journey of a mediocre privileged white man no longer felt profound. It no longer felt like *serious literature*. Not compared to books about feminism and sexual assault and slut-shaming; not compared to books about fighting for a place in the world. Not compared to books by women.
Don’t forget you can see what I’m up to in Italy over on Instagram.