Women’s Center student staff member Prachi reflects on her lifelong hobby of reading comic books and how inclusive comic books as well as how inclusive their industry has been for women, particularly women of color.
I have been a superhero comic book fan, on and off, for about 13 years – beginning with checking out Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comics from the public library in elementary. At that young age, it didn’t occur to me in explicit terms that comic books, their industry, and their fans often excluded or mistreated women, people of color, and LGBT people. Instead, I felt a sense of shame and guilt whenever someone commented on my comic book reading, feeling like something was not “right” with me for being a young girl that loved comic book superheroes.
A short reflection by Shira Devorah, Women’s Center student staff.
I bought my own copy of Dirty River (even though the Women’s Center has a copy you can loan now thanks to the UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Association recent donation), and I’m really glad that I did. I got to underline the poetry and the words that really resonated with me. I carefully applied sticky notes to the parts I loved, the difficult areas I wanted to come back to, the short mix of music I have to check out.
Dirty River, A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, is a memoir, but it is also so much more. It is a story of escape, of survival, of scraping by and fighting to exist. This book is more poetry than prose. It is incredibly difficult, dealing with (trigger warning!) incest, abuse and intimate partner violence. It is also difficult because there is so so much. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha feels everything so much. She discovers herself and pulls you in through all the twists and turns. Continue reading
A short book reflection by Shira Devorah
Just a few moments ago I finished Janet Mock’s memoir, Redefining Realness, My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. I’m still stunned. I’m not much of a memoir reader, but I’m pretty sure this book has changed that.
Thanks to a generous donation from UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Association, I was able to snatch up this book from the Women’s Center’s very own lending library! Over the past couple of days, I have been relishing every moment of Janet Mock and her story. Mock, a trans woman of color, takes her readers through her life from early childhood until now. In a whirlwind of wit and poignancy, she shares herself with us.
I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a whole bunch throughout this book. Mock fought tooth and nail to become the woman she is today, and though she has been through a lot of pain and oppression, she never falters in her stance as an activist. Every personal recollection comes with a lesson Mock has for her readers. She challenges us to be better people, to see others more complexly, to be critical of systems of inequality and injustice that exist all around us. Mock allows her readers to peak into incredibly sensitive parts of her, and trusts us to learn from the barriers she faced in her girlhood and adolescence.
I think this memoir is a wonderful introduction to intersectional identities and social justice. Any person who picks up this book will be gently introduced to many concepts that they might not have been privy to beforehand. While I feel like I know a bit about many issues touched upon in this book, I have been changed by her discussions. Continue reading
A list by student staff member, Shira Devorah
Summer is here, which means I finally have time to do some leisure reading! While I’ve been known to indulge in guilty pleasure novels, I know that there are a lot of amazing feminist books out there that I haven’t taken the time to read yet.
This summer, I plan on undertaking a feminist book club challenge! I encourage anyone reading this to come along and read with me. There aren’t any real rules to this challenge – the challenge I’m proposing to myself is to read at least 10 books that contribute to my knowledge on feminism, activism and social justice. The list of possibilities is truly extensive, so I’m going to choose just a handful of books that I think i’ll enjoy reading. Each picture will be linked to a purchasable copy on Amazon, just in case you would like to read long with me (or even better, shop local)! Continue reading
A winter lesisure book report compiled by Women’s Center Director, Jess Myers
The winter term is wrapping up and the “spring” semester (and winter storm Jonas) is right around the corner. I’m already mourning what I know will soon be the inevitable dry season of leisure reading which will be replaced by amazing Women’s Center events and programs (plus, let’s be honest, the last season of Parks and Rec is finally on Netflix and Leslie is calling my name). Before that, though, I thought I’d report out on my winter reading list.
I gave myself few rules to follow as I selected my books for the winter break. I purposely avoided the critical feminist textbooks I have on my reading list and did not seek out books with themes of sexual violence (I’m still recovering from last winter’s reading Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State. Amazing and heartbreaking.). I steered myself in the direction of “light” and “fun,” sought out stories with women positioned as critical characters, and kept to the intentional practice of reading books authored by women or people of color only. I’m already reflecting on the more intentional ways I’ll need to craft my next binge reading session. While most of my winter reads ended up on my list through recommendations from feminist and social justice-orientated friends or podcasts, the end result still produced a very white-centric cast of women authors. This is in contrast to last winter, when I sought out specific authors such as Gay and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and took away a much more intersectional and global perspective through my reading. I’ve (re)learned it’s not good enough to just exclude white male authors when seeking out book recommendations if you’re really looking to expand your perspective beyond stories of whiteness and white supremacy.
So here’s my report (I’ve also included links for the full official summary of each book): Continue reading