Happy International Women's Day!
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
The Story — capital “S”— of women is an intricate one. Many will see Mary Wollstonecraft as a mother of the feminist movement. Her call for the empowerment of women in the 1700s may not have been the very first, but it was a significant cannon that pushed for the waves of feminism that followed. For women to gain autonomy and an independent voice, to live in a society that recognised women just as it recognised men, to begin the Story of women.
The Story of women: It is many things, but it is definitely not limited to one voice or story. One way to look at it is as a collective of voices and stories, of different communities, races, classes, cultures, generations. There will be differences and they may not always agree, yet there is beauty in such diversity. Conversely, to ignore and obliterate select voices is potentially debilitating as we limit our views and risk participating in the very acts of marginalisation we are trying to subvert, to create better tomorrows. The Story of women, it is an intricate one.
It is impossible to review women’s literature and feminism without controversy, because the very fundamental essence of feminist criticism theory and the feminist movement is to challenge present normalised systems and ideologies that have been built on patriarchal values, and which have failed to evolve and involve women's representation. This makes it furthermore crucial for us to read and continue to learn, and be well-informed of the world around us, the stories that are being shared by different women in different communities and spaces. This is so that we can support the progress of women’s discourse in a manner that is balanced, responsible and purposeful, to contribute to a more inclusive environment.
Thus, we are doing Women of the Times this year — to celebrate women of different beginnings and journeys, of different colour and communities. Follow us on our socials this week as we feature different voices and stories depicted by different women, of different times and backgrounds through their works.
“We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.”
― Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens