And it really has been difficult. While catching up on Feminist Frequency the other day I stumbled across a few other feminist blogs, including one that mentioned Feminism Friday - the idea being that if several bloggers post feminist blogs or articles on a Friday it will create a bigger buzz and maybe reach readers who wouldn't otherwise read something with that tag. I think it's a great idea (I accidentally nearly wrote 'great' in capitals, I didn't think it was that great) and immediately wanted to give it a go. Cue a few stumbling paragraphs about some of the sexist attitudes I encounter on a day to day basis.
Just one problem. Turns out, I'm not terribly good at being opinionated. I do a few things wrong:
1) I'm really bad at expressing myself without making allowances for other people having a different opinion to me. I blame my parents, they did a pretty good job.
2) I always make a counter argument to myself in my head as I go along, which I find it hard to keep off the page (screen? keys?). I blame James II. Not the king, the boyfriend. James II was always right - he'd be the first to admit it. In fact, he wouldn't just admit it, he'd inform you he was always right. No matter what you were arguing he'd be right, he'd pick the opposite viewpoint just for the mental workout. Overall, it was probably pretty good for me and I have a lot to thank him for. But unsurprisingly, I didn't marry him.
3) I write like I'm in the Famous Five. It's not put on, I speak that way too (people who know me in real life will verify this). Julia Marchese didn't think English people really say 'jolly good' until she heard me say it- I had to break it to her that they don't usually, since the 1950s. I'm not sure who I can blame for that as my mother was strongly against Enid Blyton, or any children's literature where the girls helped mummy/Cook in the kitchen while the boys planted potatoes in the garden. She used to switch it around when she read us bedtime stories (yes, I do blame her for me wanting to get involved in Feminism Friday. Thanks Mum!) Anyway, try making a forceful argument using phrases like 'jolly good', 'terribly' and 'marvellous'. See what I mean?
All of this has sort of got in the way of me saying it makes me rather cross when, in the course of recommending an excellent book (which I have course to do on an almost hourly basis, and they pay me for it), I'm asked if it is Woman's book - 'woman' said in the same tone as 'I'm on a train that stops at Balcombe' (for those who don't use the London-Brighton line, the tone you use for an irritant the universe has thrown in your path which is not deadly but highly inconvenient and if you could think of a safe and legal way of destroying it, you might. David Cameron. Seagulls). So my brief nod to Feminism Friday which I will participate in, not necessarily every Friday, but as often as I can, and my response to all those readers who judge a book by its gender, is this:
There is no such thing as a woman's book.
A woman enjoying a book does not mean that a man will not.
And vice versa.
The novels I have most enjoyed have been those which surprise me, allow me to experience things I might not otherwise experience, educate me.
The gender of the authors of those books is irrelevant to my enjoyment of them.
The gender of the characters of those books is irrelevant to my enjoyment of them.
I know of no biological reason why this should be different for a man than it is for me.
It would not kill you just once in your life, or maybe even more often, to read a book about motherhood, or love. In fact, in order to treat your condition, I view it as compulsory.
Yes, discounting a book as suitable reading material purely on the gender of the author or the person who recommends it is sexist, and in eight years of working with books, I have never seen a woman do it.
Every Feminism Friday, until I get bored, I'm going to recommend a good book by a woman. I'd love to know what you think. Today, it's The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall.
Also, I'd love for other bloggers I know and love, every now and then, to spare a thought (or even a blog) for Feminism Friday.