Memoir Monday Recommendations

13 Amazing stories of Regular Women


Sometimes I think about all the places women still have yet to go and all the accomplished women who have paved a way for me and I get overwhelmed by the idea that I could ever do anything like that. There are notable women out there whose stories we know, like celebrities, and there are notable women whose stories we are learning because they won the Nobel Prize or ascended to an amazing office. Then there are the women like me, who are just trying to figure it out and aren’t all that likely to make a great name. If I ever do anything noteworthy, it’ll be in a group as one of the many women of some project or other. There’s no shame in that and I do love those books too, but that’s not my point. 

There are also stories of regular women who did amazing things. Yes, some of the names here may be familiar, but I deliberately chose women who did things that amaze me but that are ultimately not celebrities except maybe in their professions. I did include Sojourner Truth because I don’t think she got her due in her life and because her narrative doesn’t include the very speech that she is most known for now. Remarkably, she took the time to narrate her story in a time in her life when she was an ex-slave preaching up the East Coast. She was still just a regular woman doing something that was amazing for her time and place and gender and race. 

Regardless of their reasons, these women bucked the systems they were in. Not all were outright rebellious, but they made progress. They may not have changed the story they were supposed to have, but they recognized and cried out against it in their own way. They brings us the idea of a system that oppresses a group (sometimes by gender, sometimes by race, sometimes both) and what it felt like to be in that group or in some cases to witness it and bring that story to the rest of us. Except Holly Fitzgerald, whose story of being lost with her husband on the Madre de Dios blew my mind. I can’t even imagine the strength to hold on to life like that. I saw her give a TEDtalk where she suggested that most have that strength when tested but I really hope to never find out. Like the others, she refused to give in, just to a different kind of problem. 

So if you’re feeling like the fate of the world or your entire race or your entire gender is a little much to be focused on this year, remember that regular women are doing amazing things and though sometimes those things lead us into history, sometimes they don’t. Either way, even these smaller victories lead us down the road to a place we’re trying to get to. 

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One comment

  1. I just bought a copy of Turquoise Ledge, thanks for this inspiring list and looking forward to your thoughts on Eloquent Rage, I just wrote about anticipating reading it on my blog after having finished Audre Lorde’s wonderful and thought provoking essays.

    Like

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