Those of us who are not digital natives and remember a time before the internet became so central to society probably also remember the old-school ways of communication: phone calls, snail mail, face-to-face, etc. We now have the ability to do all of that electronically, and that’s a great thing: family members can Skype or FaceTime, students can take online courses, people can have therapy sessions or see a doctor via apps, and friends can have watch parties on Netflix while social distancing to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
But who here has ever gotten into an argument on social media, whether with family, friends, or total strangers? Who here has gotten irrationally angry at content that you come across on the pages of friends and family? Who here as had to block people from social media accounts due to online trolling?
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army ran comfort houses — military brothels — throughout Japan and its occupied territories. The comfort women forced to work there were often not women at all but young girls who had been kidnapped or sold into sexual slavery. The exact numbers are still debated by scholars, but estimates put the numbers of comfort women as high as 400,000.
Lee Ok-sun was one of these women. She grew up in Korea in extreme poverty. Her parents could not afford to send her to school, and she was often weak from hunger; her parents were unable to buy enough food to feed the entire family. One day, her parents informed her that she was going to be adopted by a childless couple who would be able to feed her and send her to school, and that she would still be able to come home to visit the family.
Several years ago, Book Riot assigned a feminist book for one of its reading challenge prompts, and people seemed to keep picking from the same 2-3 titles over and over and over. But one can find feminist themes in pretty much every genre, and to prove it, I created a list of feminist book recommendations for every single prompt. I’ve been doing it ever since.
This year, I’m changing things up and doing POPSUGAR’s challenge instead of Book Riot’s. I won’t do the whole list — because whewwww … time consuming! — but here are some feminist recommendations for several prompts:
PUBLISHED IN 2020
ABlack Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross
Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
We Served the People: My Mother’s Stories by Emei Burell
Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch
Leila Abid’s parents got together the old-fashioned way: via arranged marriage. Decades later, their relationship is one of mutual love and respect. Naturally, they want the same kind of stability for their daughter. And now that Leila is practically on the verge of spinsterhood — at the ripe old age of 26 — they feel that it’s time for their picky, flighty daughter to settle down.
Leila is a progressive American woman with a long list of traits she wants in a potential husband. She wants a Bollywood love story with a handsome hero. She wants a partner who will treat her as an equal. She wants someone who won’t mind that she’ll never be the type of Indian wife who can naturally cook traditional Indian meals. And of course, he needs to be drop-dead gorgeous with an amazing smile with an exciting life and intellectual pursuits. Even her friends tell her that her expectations are unrealistic.
Constantly at odds with her parents, she makes a deal: if she’s not engaged in three months, she will let them arrange her marriage.