Every year, for the past 4 years, I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s been a fun, no pressure way to push myself to read at least 50 books a year.
This year, not only have I decided to make it 75 books but I’m adding another layer to it and joining the Around the World Reading Challenge.
In light of the We Need Diverse Books campaign that began last year, I’ve become more conscious of what I’m reading. I don’t have any trouble reading across different genres (scifi, mystery, middle grade, ya, graphic novels, biographies, just no chick-lit please) but when it comes to reading diverse authors, I realized I am guilty of choosing what is familiar.
One of the first things I read this year was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay “We Should All Be Feminists”. I don’t consider myself a feminist. I’m not even sure I know exactly what that means. I’ve had discussions about this before but people end up arguing and it becomes a very heated conversation. In some ways, I could fit the general description. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science. In school and in the field that I work, I am the minority. I believe I should be paid the same as a man in the same field. There are times when I sing to myself “Everything you can do, I can do better.” (Michael Jordan vs. Mia Hamm commercial, in case you didn’t catch that reference.)
But honestly it isn’t something I think much about. I am also a mother of two, I cook dinner for my family almost every night, I like it when my husband holds the door open for me but I will also hold it open for him if I get there first. I squeeee and clasp my hands together when I see pictures or videos of really cute bunnies. I brake for squirrels. Recently I discovered I cry in emotional scenes of Doctor Who. I feel very fortunate that I don’t feel like I have to conform to any expectations because of my gender.
But I know this is not the case for everyone. So reading Chimamanda’s essay gave me pause (which is why reading diversely is so important!). I am still thinking about this days later:
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”
I may be developing a literary intellectual crush on her. Especially after watching the TedTalk.
Feminist or not, man or woman, I think she brings up some great points about gender, culture, and equality. The fact that it’s 2015 and this is still even a discussion makes me wonder if we have really come as far as we think we have. We still have so far to go.