Give me girl power-- but with nuance.
April 23, 2011 10:47 AM Subscribe
I'd like recommendations for books, stories or non-fiction accounts of women wrestling with societal norms to achieve their goals and having trouble overcoming their own internalized ideas of gender.
posted by DeusExMegana to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of books I've encountered dealing with this kind of topic tend to fall in the camp of girl-power fables where women instinctively grasp that they are equal and capable and go on a goal-achieving journey and damn the consequences. Several of these are fantasy novels where women become warriors in settings where generally only men can do so and go on to kick ass, take names and prove themselves.
I generally like stories dealing with gender barriers and women who fight society's norms to achieve their goals, but in a lot of these, especially fantasy, the characters' struggles seem very artificial, because the characters don't even seem to have been raised in the society the book is set in, or be affected at all by its norms. That's not really how people function; they internalize what they're taught. Sometimes those stories seem like the author just conceived of a character who is essentially a 21st century American woman plucked down into the book's setting. I want more complex characters and more compelling conflicts, stories in which strong female characters are capable and ambitious, but must deal with their own internalized insecurities and prejudices on top of those of their peers to achieve their goals. I would be interested particularly in any contemporary memoirs from women living in areas with extreme gender disparity, but the story can be a novel, short story, memoir, etc., and the gender-based barriers the women overcome can take any form.
Bonus points if this is something I can find in my local library, since I don't have a lot of disposable income at the moment.