This week the MSM Library went mobile! We held a POP UP Library event over four break times on November 19 and 21. It was great to take part of our collection closer to the students on the Grantuly verandah and outside the Sophia Centre. Our volunteers came from a group at the College called “Sisters empowering sisters.” They really enjoyed helping us find some feminist fiction for their peers to borrow.
What makes feminist fiction? It’s not simply that the author is female or that the female characters are strong women (although that helps). What really makes feminist fiction is the fact that it engages in social commentary. These novels usually allow their characters to go on a journey of awakening which allows them to see the world in which they live from a different perspective.
This is what happens to Tris in Divergent, to Katnis in The Hunger Games and to Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale. In the beginning of these stories these characters may not like the societies in which they live but they accept the status quo. However, at the end of their tales they have been awakened by the events that happened to them and driven into rebellion and sometimes leadership roles.
You will notice that all of the books mentioned so far are Dystopian. This new genre presents us with societies that are a bit like our own but also wildly different in some ways. By reading about them we get to reflect on what the world is like for us. Margaret Atwood has said of the world of The Handmaid’s tale that she didn’t include anything that has not happened to women at some point in history.
Older feminist books focused more on realistic stories and the small details of women’s lives. They empowered women by giving them voices and giving readers insight into their interior lives and the frustration and difficulty of being female in society.