Choose to Challenge: Writers Who Rebel

In light of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8th, Choose to Challenge, we’re spotlighting 10 of our favourite female activist-writers who choose to challenge through their words and work:

  1. Alice Walker: known for her novel The Color Purple, Walker’s explored ‘womanism’ and female awakening through her works. Having been raised in segregation era, she’s shared her experiences and demonstrated activism in voicing her desire for liberation for all. If you’re interesting in more on Walker and her voice, we’ve done a spotlight blog on her as one of our feminist icon series.

  2. Another one in our series is Audre Lorde, whose work and activism has focused on challenging the categorization within societies and fighting for intersectionality. Her poems have challenged the oppression she’s faced from various groups (including second-wave, white feminists) as a black lesbian woman.

  3. Novelist and poet Helene Cixous has been at the forefront of challenging gender roles, exploring how language is gendered and encouraging women to believe in themselves and their intellect, as explored in her 1975 essay, The Laugh of the Medusa.

  4. Another feminist challenger has been Simone de Beauvoir, whose renowned text The Second Sex has entirely challenged and disrupted the social expectations of women in a society built for men.

  5. One of the most celebrated female writer-activist, Maya Angelou, has shared stories from her own life journey focusing on African American identity, and best known for her series of autobiographies including I Know why the Caged Bird Sings.

  6. Naomi Wolf‘s The Beauty Myth (as well as one of her newer works Vagina: A New Biography) has opened doors for women’s expression and the definition of beauty, as she asserts the norm of beauty being a social construct as well as challenges the taboo of women’s sexuality.

  7. Another key text in women’s sexual liberation has been Germaine Greer’The Female Eunuch, which has spread activism across feminist movements aimed at liberating women’s bodies.

  8. More of a contemporary, non-fiction choice, Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed For Men is truly an eye-opener for what needs changing and challenging within our society for wider equality.

  9. Another favourite of ours is Jhumpa Lahiri, who has published several award-winning short-stories, some reflecting her experiences as the daughter of Indian immigrants living and working in the United States. Her work empathizes with the mental and emotional conditions of immigrants, whilst challenging political and social stigmas labelling immigrant families as outsiders.

  10. And to complete our list, is poet Amanda Gorman who, having been named as the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, gained international support and celebration as the inaugural poet. Her work has focused on issues surrounding the African diaspora, race and feminism, including her newest collection There Are Girls like Lions.

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