A friend from Qatar asked me for suggestions on what feminist texts she should read. I gave her 4, and they aren’t the 4 most famous, or the 4 most cited, but they are the 4 I use nearly every single day. They teach 4 frames to understand how women are often treated in the world:
- “Men are people, women are other,” pulled from Edward Said’s Orientalism. (Assigned in my first English class in college).
- “There is nothing in nature that requires women be subservient,” from Gloria Steinem’s “If Men Could Menstrate.” (assigned in my American Political Humor Humanities Scholars Program class in my second year).
- “Productivity isn’t what makes a person valuable, existence is,” from “The Spoon Theory,” by Christine Miserandino (explained to me by a wildly bright former housemate from college; recently reintroduced to me by social justice activists on tumblr)
- “Women aren’t portrayed as we are in our media,” The Bechdel Test, by Alison Bechdel, as described on TV Tropes (given to me by another wildly smart former housemate from college).
These aren’t the only concepts I use as my framework–intersectionality, Granny Weatherwax’s idea that sin is treating people as things, a commitment to fairness that was a core teaching of my middle school–but I use them almost every day, both at work and living as an activist committed to social justice.
That I use these every day is just another reason why when people tell me a major in the humanities is a waste I laugh and laugh and laugh.
“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray. . . .”
“There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”–Granny Weatherwax, Carpe Jugulum