By Mandy Vere
International Women’s Day has passed for this year, but in keeping with our belief that every day should be IWD, we first recommend a couple of books about international women. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the wonderful novel Half of a Yellow Sun, has published We Should All Be Feminists (Fourth Estate £5). Originally a TED talk, this booklet addresses an African audience, but is universal in its sentiments: “I would like to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. And this is how we start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must raise our sons differently.” Waris Dirie wrote an amazing trilogy of memoirs about growing up in Somalia, being subject to female genital mutilation and escaping forced marriage as a child. In Saving Safa: Rescuing a Little Girl from FGM (Virago £8.99) she recounts her mission to save this young girl from Djibouti (who played the young Waris in a film) from the abuse that is FGM.
There has been an impressive recent flowering of funny women, on stage and in literature. Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her (Arrow £8.99) is part memoir, part laughter-filled rant, a tour of the most irritatingly sexist things in the world. Reading Francesca Martinez’ What the **** is Normal? (Virgin £8.99) will warm you to this fantastic socialist, “wobbly” comedian and actor. And if you’ve ever picked up one of Jackie Fleming’s cartoon postcards in the bookshop, you can now indulge in a whole book The Trouble with Women (Square Peg £9.99) in which she investigates the history of women from the “olden days” through questions like “Can women be geniuses, or are their arms too short?”
Once we’ve figured that one out, we can move on to activist women. The Hammer Blow: How 10 Women Disarmed a War Plane (Peace News £10) is by Andrea Needham, one of the Seeds of Hope women who were acquitted, in 1996 at Liverpool Crown Court, of conspiracy to damage property, after they had attempted to prevent the greater crime of British Aerospace Hawk Jets bombing the East Timorese people, by taking a hammer to said planes. A must read – passionate, dramatic and uplifting.
While Syria is in all our thoughts, it is good to return to the origins of that conflict, when Syrians rose up against the Assad dictatorship in 2011. Samar Yazbek’s A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution (Haus £15.99) gives a woman’s perspective on those early days. Meanwhile the struggle of the Kurdish people to create a different non-hierarchical society in northern Syria is illuminated in A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution (Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness £11.99). Amazingly this community, while daily combatting ISIS, have been developing an anti-state, anti-capitalist way of life, which values feminism, ecological stewardship and pluralism. Much to learn for us all.
Back home we had our own minor revolution in the Labour Party. Corbyn’s Campaign edited by Tom Unterrainer (Spokesman £7.95) and Being Red: A Politics for the Future by Ken Livingstone (Pluto £12.99) are great companions to our understanding of how such an upheaval came about and how progressive forces within and without party politics can point the way to a more socialist future.
Finally to an interesting little publication called Bad Feelings (Book Works £8). It is a collection of essays and articles from the Art Against Cuts movement. With pieces entitled The Rage That Turns to Action, Pain, No-one Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent, Brute Forces, Revenge and Notes on Racial Domination and a beautiful bookmark you’ll certainly be intrigued.
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