The passing of International Women’s Day saw the celebration of the achievements made by women, from the everyday to the extraordinary. Now in 2017, women have more autonomy and empowerment than ever before and they are expressing this through their art.
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of those women. She may not be a name at the forefront of our minds, but her words could easily be recited. Having her TEDx speech ‘We should all be feminists’ featured in Beyonce’s 2013 hit ‘Flawless’ left me and many other women around me feeling empowered and understood. Moving from Nigeria and graduating from university with a degree in Creative Writing led her on to write many critically acclaimed novels (‘Americanah’ being a focal point for post modernist African literature). Her work portrays many dimensions of discrimination from race to sexism due to her experiences of both.
Social media has become, for many, a common platform to share ideas and work worldwide, especially for Rupi Kaur. Sharing her poetry on Tumblr and Instagram increased her following and saw more people sharing her work. ‘Milk and Honey’ is her first of three collections of quote worthy poetry venturing into topics of sex, love and self worth – a strong influence on my own work and blog. The lack of punctuation in her work is representative of her Gurmukhi script which too disregards the need for traditional standards of grammar. Kaur has opened up the discussion on societal expectations placed on women regarding their minds and bodies, using social media to reach those who may not typically take an interest in creative writing.
The second wave of the large Feminist movement in the 20th Century brought forward Germaine Greer and her radical deconstruction of female ‘roles’ and also the idea of equality. Her viewpoint is that of celebrating the differences in genders and not fitting any set moulds. Her first book in 1970 entitled ‘The Female Eunuch’ outlined many topics; fertility, ageing, conformity, giving women a voice to assert their rights in a patriarchal environment. Greer’s numerous books provide a helping hand for all girls who may feel under pressure to aspire to an ideal that does not appeal to any part of their personality. Basically, authenticity is key.
Zadie Smith is another who’s career surged from a young age, being placed in Granta’s list of the 20 best young authors in 2003, and 2013. Her multi cultural background coupled with a Cambridge degree enables her to stand out with her themes of politics and race in her intricate post modern texts. ‘On Beauty’ (2005) has been the current discussion within my Contemporary Fiction course because of the relatable troubles of identity, something all teenagers can acknowledge. Intersectionality is a common discussion point surrounding Smith requiring us to be inquisitive about oppression. To provoke discussions of such depth is a key element of good authorship.
‘The Bell Jar’ is a thought provoking novel from 1963 that delves into the taboo subject of mental health. Creative writing is a form of therapy that can transform negative thoughts and energy into an authentic body of work. Sylvia Plath never shied away from the battle she eventually lost with depression. This novel shares the thoughts of Plath’s alter ego and the betrayal she faces from the men in her life. The conclusion of the novel sees improving mental health and satisfying her intellectual needs provided her with the clarity that she needed. Mental illness prohibits over 350 million world wide from achieving their potential. Shining a light on the struggles requires courage and expertise; two qualities Plath was never short of, amongst many others of immense talent and devotion to writing.
Women’s History Month is about celebrating female talent and encouraging ourselves to create work that will inspire our peers and future generations.
Written by Rebbecca Perrins