Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”
By Jessica S. Manuel
Today is International Women’s Day. I feel the same about today that I do about Earth Day: we should celebrate our female accomplishments everyday. Nonetheless, I want to carve out some mental space to champion the power of the female pen today.
Helene Cixous helped the world, and academia especially, recognize and appreciate this power many moons ago. In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” she describes something called “l’ecriture feminine,” or literally “feminine writing.” Without getting too deep into Lacanian psychoanalysis here, let’s just say this kind of writing stands askew from the rest of the male-centered prose that we’re used to. Because a woman remains on the margins of the Symbolic Order, even more so when she articulated this concept back in 1976, the female pen does not play by society’s rules.
As we know, there might be power in this, but we also recognize how difficult it is for a woman to break through a male-dominated society. While contemporary female authors have it a little easier than their predecessors, we still champion and appreciate their accomplishments, knowing it was a harder road for them.
So there are some incredible female minds out there writing non-fiction, but listed below are some of my favorite female authors of fiction. Next to their name, I’ve included the story or novel that moved me with a quick explanation as to why.
Kate Chopin: The Story of an Hour
This story has the power to open your eyes to the silent oppression that women feel.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper
I believe this is what will happen to me, and most women, if we ever stop writing.
Nella Larsen: Quicksand and Passing
These two novellas articulate an important racial, cultural trend known as “passing” and open our eyes to the nuances of racial articulation.
Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar
This novel united an entire generation of young women and gave a voice to their neurotic tendencies, most of which were culturally conditioned.
Barbara Kingsolver: Animal Dreams
A moment in this novel describes how few women stand with the feet firmly planted on the ground but tend to waiver on the sides of their feet, suggesting they almost apologize for their existence.
Octavia Butler: Parable of the Sower
A young girl displays hyperempathy in apocalyptic circumstances and opens our eyes to how primitive our emotions are.
Are there any female authors that changed your world? I’d love to celebrate with you today and everyday, so be sure to let me know in the comments.
For tips on How to Celebrate International Women’s Day, check out Bethany’s post HERE.
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