The Mother of all Questions (2017) by Rebecca Solnit
There were a few times when reading this book I had to take a deep breath and prepare myself to turn the next page.
There are people who speak and are believed, and the consequence is that they disappear (43)
These words to me were profound. They were the words that I needed to articulate what was wrong with how my sexual harassment case against a member of senior management in prison was handled.
It was often confusing to know if when he lent over me at my desk and said I’m here to protect you was genuine or because he had a fetish for dominance and enjoyed it. He often whispered you need protecting from men, all the while getting close to me so that the hairs on our arms would touch.
He said he wants to hold me up against a wall and see what it would feel like to kiss me. He wants to see me in a dress because he wants to see my legs. I spoke out but the consequence was that I disappeared and he carried on unscathed barely aware of what was happening.
My female colleague initiated an investigation against him, too, which the private company conducted internally and just like that, poof, she disappeared too to the old dark and unused prison hospital. It was concluded that there was “a lack of malicious intent” and she was offered a relocation if she wanted. She could disappear.
This book doesn’t just cover sexual harassment it covers everything that has led to women being silenced. The essays are easy to follow, but I warn you – you might feel a little angry while reading!
A Room of One’s Own (1929) by Virginia Woolf
In 1928, Woolf delivered what is now a prolific piece of literature to the literary societies of Newnham and Girton Colleges, Cambridge. Since publication in 1929, the book hasn’t been out of print because it’s that brilliant.
Having been asked to write about women and fiction, Woolf used this opportunity to delve into the educational, social and financial disadvantages that women were up against.
Her argument, which she is arguably most famous for, is that,
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
But this book is much, much more than that argument alone. As you read along, trying to keep up with every scenario that is delivered in Woolf’s typical stream of consciousness style, you can feel the overpowering, dominant presence of 1928 masculine superiority, as men seemingly grind her flow to a holt just as much as they did for women’s progress.
She crafts memorable sentences, phrases, words, and statements that have stuck with me ever since I first read the book. One sentence, however, particularly stood out:
Moreover, in a hundred years, I thought, reaching my own doorstep, women will have ceased to be the protected sex.
I have repeated this over and over in my head, in discussion, and on paper, and I no longer even know how to interpret ‘protected’. In 10 years time it will have been a hundred years, and there are similarities with the inequalities that Woolf discusses in 1928 to those still being discussed today.
And in light of Jordan Peterson’s new book 12 Rules for Life, and #MeToo and the Weinstein scandal, I have a feeling we’re digressing and the situation with inequality isn’t progressing at a speed rapid enough to even come close to confirming Woolf’s thoughts.
So, in light of such ‘Philosophers,’ and Weinstein and #MeToo, do you think that when we reach the 100th birthday of A Room of One’s Own in 10 years time we will have ceased to be the ‘protected sex’, as Woolf hoped?
This is a small read that’s perfect for your entry into the world of Woolf. It celebrates women and all of their often ignored, and belittled as ‘feminine,’ strengths and capabilities. Perfect for our March 8th celebrations!
Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera (1972)
I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.
Frida Kahlo is, I suppose you could say, my spiritual guidance. Some people have the Dalai Lama, or God, or Warren Buffet, but I have Frida; the absolutely beautiful, colourful and talented Frida.
She led an inspiring life even after experiencing infertility, near death, and a philandering husband, and all the while creativity grew from within herself, I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
She makes me feel so happy that I looked to her for inspiration at my wedding (hence the red dress, and Spain – not quite Mexico, I know). She inspires the contents of my home, and I feel so overwhelmingly grateful to every single person who has ever tagged me in a Frida related article or post and painted pictures, sent me books, broaches, and cups.
So, for you, here are some photos of Frida, because I hope she will bring you as much joy as she does for me.