Thursday, January 29, 2009

3 Books Every Woman Should Read

Say what you will about feminism, being a woman has it's own special set of circumstances we have to deal with. Whether it's not being safe walking alone late at night, dealing with menstruation or being shafted by the medical field, there are just some things we have to deal with. These three books, I am convinced, can help us deal and I think every female should read them.

1. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio
I'll be honest, I was turned off by this book for a long while because of its title and most women I've recommended it too had the same reaction, so I'll start by saying that you should just pretend it has a different title if it bothers you too much, because it is so important you read this book! Inga took the blinders off my eyes about so many female things. She taught me to start looking at my period as a positive thing instead of a negative, she helped me realize how I'd been pretending that women's safety isn't the problem it is, showed me that I had no idea how my vagina is really put together and so much more.

Reading this book changed my life and it will do the same for you. She takes an honest look at our culture and how it supports or doesn't support women's opportunities and self esteem. Where it doesn't support us, she offers suggestions on how we can do better at taking care of ourselves and female friends, family and acquaintances. It is the most honest and empowering thing I have ever read and I CANNOT emphasize just how worthwhile it is.

2. A New View of a Woman's Body by Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers
After reading Cunt, you will hunger for this book! Inga teaches you how little you really know about your body (because lady bits are still not properly represented in most sex ed and health books) and suggests this book as a way to overcome that. Medical science favors the male of the species and until recently drugs for women only weren't even tested on women before receiving FDA approval! That's how unhelpful it can be.

A New View of a Woman's Body is based on the work done by women for women to represent our sexual organs properly. It includes illustrations as well as photos that show what the figure eight muscle structure "down there" that is activated during orgasms and childbirth, compares the female genitals to the male to show both similarities and differences, and shows a broad range of "normal" cervices and their natural variations.

I don't know how I can describe how empowering it is to understand the minute responses of my body that were complete mysteries before, but it is literally life-changing. I feel I have so much more ownership of who I am and what I can accomplish.

This book also includes some information that some women will find really weird - like their advice on birth control use and certain other things that might seem extreme. This is a small part of the book, but just to warn you - just take what you find helpful and leave the rest.

3. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
I've talked about this book a lot on my other blog, but I'll keep it short here. This book is wonderful because it mixes a deep understanding of the medical world and the unique challenges of being female. Northrup dispenses a mixture of health, mind and spiritual advice that is invaluable to a girl like me who grew up without a female mentor.

Reading this book challenged my assumptions about life. Her feminist, holistic outlook on life is empowering and takes into account the emotional and physical equally. Her experience in life as a doctor for over twenty years has given her unique insight into many problems and concerns of her female patients and being able to access all that knowledge at once is kind of overwhelming.

I think sometimes one of the negative effects feminism has on my mind is that I want to forget that the differences between the sexes really do affect people's lives. These books help me to realize that embracing my womanhood doesn't make me less of a feminist or a person and they've shown me ways of approaching problems that I wouldn't have thought up on my own.

Related posts:
What Women Can and Can't Do
My Fictional Female Role Models
Women's Magazines Suck

Like what you see? Subscribe here or add to Mixx


Kris the Vagabond said...

I think you should add "Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters" by Jessica Valenti and "That Takes Ovaries! Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts" by Rivka Solomon.

I would recommend those two books to any woman, whether or not she identifies as a feminist.

May said...

I've read "That Takes Ovaries!" I'll be sure to check out "Full Frontal Feminism" :)