Hello readers and happy Monday! Keely and Ellen are still looking for guest contributors and weren’t able to find anyone that could have one done for this month. [Note to selves: the next time we start a blog, ask people for contributions months in advance.] So for this fourth week, instead of a guest blog, we are sharing with you two book recommendations! Both should be available at your favorite local book store or public library. Go check them out now!
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, offers readers a look at life in Nigeria and the U.S. through the perspective of a young Nigerian woman. The main character, Ifemelu, grows up in Nigeria and moves to the U.S. halfway through college, and then eventually back to Nigeria. She experiences love, learning, and work in both countries, offering a unique point of view as she transitions to life in America, and then back to Nigeria.
Adichie writes about several “Americanisms” with a subtle, but clever sense of humor, allowing readers to both reflect on their actions and laugh at themselves. For example, early on in the story she writes about the American expression of “I know,” indicating ‘agreement rather than knowledge’. Ifemelu, who is at the center of the story, writes in her anonymous blog about observations such as this while she is living on the East Coast. Ifemelu acts as both a critic of American culture and a product of her environment.
In a time when issues such as race, immigration, and privilege are so relevant in our society, Americanah contains beautiful stories that shed light and also entertain.
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape is a collection of essays edited and complied by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, published in 2008. I just finished it a couple months ago and highly recommend it. It contains 27 essays written by diverse people on a variety of topics that intersect beautifully and sharply to contribute to the overall theme of the book. Valenti and Friedman each contribute an essay and Margaret Cho wrote the forward. Need I say more?
The essays each have various tags, or themes, assigned to them so that if you are interested in reading on “race relating” you can easily find the entries that contribute to that theme. The editors share in the introduction that the book is not necessarily set up to read the essays in the order they are printed, but the tags enable the readers to jump around at will. As such, it is accessible and user friendly.
I firmly believe everyone should read this book because it will be the work of all of us to dismantle rape culture. I loved Valenti’s essay because it touches on what her subsequent book is on, The Purity Myth – which is another great book! I also loved Lisa Jervis’ essay, “An Old Enemy in a New Outfit: How Date Rape Became Gray Rape and Why It Matters”. But literally all of them are good and very worth reading. Trust me.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Jervis…now go read this book!
“When you’re steeped in messages about looking hot at the expense of (or as a substitute for) feeling aroused or having sexual desire, it becomes all the easier for you to question your own judgment about what happened to you and believe the cultural forces telling you that your assault was just miscommunication and bad sex.”
The empower couple
P.S. Don’t forget to email us questions for feminist advice at firstname.lastname@example.org!