Books for the Resistance

I saw today that UN Women posted “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” on Instagram and it just set my mind reeling. Of course, a woman’s place is definitely in the Resistance, but I hadn’t originally planned on posting on it. Then I became a little obsessed and here we are.

First of all, I adore the fabulous Carrie Fisher as much as the rest of us, ever since I first saw her on the HBO documentary “Wishful Drinking”, stream it here. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that she had written a memoir of the same title and read it as my celebrity memoir in the 2018 Read Harder Challenge. It’s reviewed here, and I’ve also read and reviewed The Princess Diarist. Along with everyone else, I’ve been in love with the memes and attitudes shifts that came along with our childhood princess (Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia and Robin Wright/Princess Bride turned Antiope in Wonder Woman) have turned into generals.

Carrie Fisher was an icon well beyond her role and her celebrity. She was a role model of living the Resistance. People expected her to stay young and beautiful, and not only did she not do that, she refused it spectacularly. I mean, aging is a thing that was always going to happen and none of us will maintain the kind of beauty that only youth provides, but she didn’t hide from it. She came out in front and absolutely inspired my generation.

That said, we still have work to do in the Resistance and here are some books that I turn to in those times when I find it hard to know what to do or where to get started:

  • the witch doesn’t burn in this one by amanda lovelace – I know it’s poetry, but it gets me going.
  • Whipping Girl by Julie Serano – on the devaluing of femininity and why that needs to stop.
  • Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee – the first book I read about a woman resisting and she is amazing.
  • Headstrong by Rachel Swaby – a woman to read about every week to remember that we have been there making history all along.
  • Make Trouble by Cecile Richards – a memoir that includes how to actual start making trouble
  • Opting Out by Pamela Stone – I think about this a lot when it comes to how our personal actions still have collective outcomes that can negatively effect the next generation. What to do for self preservation when the current system is killing us while not setting up the next generation for the same problem?
  • The Abramson Effect by Debora Spar – the glass cliff is real and terrifying in a whole other way.
  • Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine – how research can be skewed but also how it’s findings can change what we think we’re capable of and maybe show that perception and expectations are more malleable than we like it admit.
  • Colonize This! by Daisy Hernandez – essays by women of color discussing intersections of issues that don’t belong to only women but also how they effect women differently than men.
  • At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire – where I learned that Rosa Parks was an activist and a part of the Resistance well before that fateful bus ride, which I found particularly inspirational.

Also, as noted in At the Dark End of the Street and a big part of the Rebel Resistance is that women have always been a part of the Resistance. We have also always been fighting our own Resistance against the powers that work to thwart our own fulfillment. Gender roles are only one kind of oppression and women have resisted the others right alongside men from the Civil Rights Movement to the Arab Spring. Women are necessary in those resistances, along with having been spies in war for as long as human history. Even in times when women weren’t in the armies of the world, we’ve been the one to slay the opposition, just see Jael in the Book of Judges.

I love the books that have been coming out that show just this thing, that women have always been around, making history but with their contributions going without credit or their names just not moved forward. I love seeing the discoveries people make from old news articles and popularize, like that of Irene Sendler, that show us that women have been doing great things all along. I love collections like Princesses Behaving Badly and Rejected Princesses that show that even this group of women that have been homogenized and undervalued in history have done so much more than they are credited for. It’s a beautiful thing and I can’t wait to devour all these books.

At the same time, they inspire me to do more and try harder to contribute the progress of women at all intersections possible. It’s the kind of endeavor that will always feel like a losing battle, and one that I’ve learned often takes two steps back for every step forward, but worthwhile nonetheless. It requires self care and persistence. We just have to keep moving forward, to keep up the resistance against what we cannot tolerate.

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