World Book Day and Learning to Smash the Patriarchy

by Stacey Smith
Stacey Smith

There’s a phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’ve always done well on the metaphorical side of that advice, but never literally. Because if I see a book written by a woman I am in. I’m judging, and it’s already good. I may be biased and I don’t give two shits.

I remember “celebrating” World Book Day back in grade school and now it infuriates me. Every kid had to dress up like their favorite book character. If you were lazy, you repurposed a Halloween costume and claimed it was from a book. World Book Day was mostly retail therapy and focused more on these costumes than on the actual books. This year, I’m dressing up as my favorite book character: A feminist. I’m going braless, I’ll shave if I want, and I’m going to wear my Michelle Obama socks.

To get us in the mood to really celebrate World Book Day on April 23rd, here are 10 feminist books I’ve made up that I recommend reading:

  1. Girls Get Themselves Pregnant: A Scientific Book Proving That’s Not the Way It Works
  2. Girltini: A Guide to Making Cocktails with Male Tears
  3. Smile, Men
  4. The Kitchen and Other Places We Don’t Belong
  5. Faking an Orgasm or Facing the Inevitable
  6. Ways to Take up Space on Public Transit
  7. Keep Your Rape Whistle — I’d Rather Have Change
  8. The Vagina Dialogues: Conversations I Have with My Vagina
  9. Single Mom: The OG Superhero
  10. My Body, My Ice Cream

Now, here are 10 real feminist books I recommend reading and why:

  1. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta ThunbergThis 17-year-old Swedish climate activist wrote this as a rallying cry to wake us all up so we fight for our planet. When I was 17, I was playing field hockey, eating Zebra Cakes, and in the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Two Zebra-Cake encrusted thumbs up for Greta.
  1. No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol – There’s so much pressure to fit into a box when you’re a woman (even though we have our own).  This book is a beautiful take on how not having a marriage and kids isn’t good or bad – it’s just different. I love my fiance with all of my heart, but I know that if I didn’t have him, I’d be happily living in a cabin full of corgis. Neither is better or worse – they’re  just different.
  1. My Wild and Sleepless Nights by Clover Stroud – Are you ready for a one-way ticket to “Sob City, USA?” This book is an honest account on the conflicting emotions of motherhood. And I thought being a “plant mom” was hard. Really, if you can find tissues in this pandemic, have them nearby.
  1. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall – The needs and thoughts of women of color are often pushed to the side of  “mainstream feminism.” The book speaks passionately about broadening our idea of what  feminism is and urges us to include food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage and free and accessible medical care. A great read for white feminists who think they understand intersectional feminism, but probably don’t.
  1. Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger, edited by Lilly Dancyger – Hear us roar. We’re lionesses and we’re ready to be the MANE EVENT. Too often, women are taught to squelch their anger and put on a smile. No one in this book is covering up their true emotions.
  1. I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, co-written with Christina Lamb – It’s all in the title. I am floored by this young woman. Technically, “Malala Day” is July 12th, but for me – it’s every damned day.
  1. Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World, edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman – One of America’s greatest flaws is the tendency to doubt women. This collection of essays is part of the cultural shift that began with #MeToo. Women share and affirm their personal experiences, gaining power in numbers. The primary message is that we must all believe women, and not just when it’s convenient.
  1. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights by Juno Mac and Molly Smith – This book sheds light on a lot of topics I was  unfamiliar with and anything that educates and increases compassion is an important read. . It’s time we all accept that sex work is work and those who do it should have a seat at the table when it comes to safety, pay, benefits and all the rights the rest of us fight for.
  2. Anything written by the following queens: Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Caitlin Moran, Margaret Atwood, Roxanne Gay, Gloria Steinem, Bell Hooks, Lindy West, Jane Austen, Brene Brown and Nora Ephron. These women are often cited in any “Top Feminst Book” list. This list is no different, and yes, I AM a walking Brene Brown quote.
  1. Random Female Syndromes: Funny Fixes for All the Things You Thought Were Wrong with You – THIS IS A MUST READ. Your life will completely change. You’ll still have the same house in Iowa with a low-grade rat infestation and your husband will probably still forget to put the toilet seat down, but you will laugh your ass off. And although a handful of CBD gummies and a glass of red wine seems like the best medicine (just me?), the best medicine is  actually laughter.  So take those meds (laughter) and feel better (more empowered).

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