6 Coming Of Age Books That Taught Us About The Female Body

Image c/o: Library Of Congress

A woman’s body is complicated. There’s a whole lot to learn and it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Thankfully, these books exist to do the job. They’ve helped us embrace being a woman, from puberty to menopause (and everything in-between!)

1. Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women's Health Collective and Judy Norsigian

Image c/o: Our Bodies, Ourselves

Originally called Women and Their Bodies (available to read in all it’s glory here), it accompanied Women’s Liberation movement as the bible about our bodies. It provided more information about women’s health and sexuality than ever before. Since then, it’s expanded throughout the years with more information. The most recent edition was published in 2011.

2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

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Margaret Simon may be fictional but any girl who read this book felt like they knew her. It’s a story about a sixth-grader trying to find a religion  while dealing with all that comes with growing up. Talking about everything from crushes to first periods, it’s a relatable classic.

3. Twelve by Lauren Myracle

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A modernized Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Myracle's book tackles what it's like to be a twelve year old girl, month to month. It's part of a series called The Winnie Years, including such adventures as Winnie losing a tampon in the pool. (Slightly more relevant than Margaret sleeping with a sanitary-belt on...)

4. & 5. The Care and Keeping of You 1 and 2 by American Girl

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We’re sure many girls remember their parent’s handing them this body handbook in middle school. It covers all the basics of puberty, physical and emotional. The second edition (published in 2013) delves into the same topics as the first with even more detail.

6. It’s a Girl Thing: How to Stay Healthy, Safe and in Charge by Mavis Jukes

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This book is like the witty, more adult sister of The Care and Keeping of You. It answered all those questions we feel too awkward to ask a family member, such as information about birth control and STDs. It’s also jam packed with body positive messages. “Take good care of your body;” writes Jukes, “it contains something miraculous – you.”

Not a coming of age read, but certainly an important book about the female body:

7. The Wisdom of Menopause by Christine Northup, M.D.

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Perhaps the most difficult, confusing thing a woman’s body endures, menopause is not fun. This book, however, does help to make it a little easier. It’s a textbook-sized guide for understanding the changes your body is going through and how to help navigate them the best way possible.

15 Books That Should Definitely Make Your Summer Reading List

The summertime is a hotbed for magical, endless, surreal, and diary worthy experiences. You know what we’re talking about: summer love, freedom, heartbreak, and sunburns. In between long walks on the beach and courting your seasonal flames, you’re going to have some down time. We suggest you unwind, hydrate, and collect inspiration from these rad female visionaries! Here are our top picks for your 2015 Beach Reading List:

 

Novels:

 

How Should A Person Be by Sheila Heti

 

Mislaid by Nell Zink

The First Bad Man by Miranda July


Get In Trouble by Kelly Link


Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine

I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

 

 

 

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg 

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

 

Poetry:

 When You Say One Thing But You Mean Your Mother by Melissa Broder

 

MotherLand, Fatherland, Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood

I Went To Sleep Drunk And Woke Up Hungry by Katie Wheeler-Dublin

Graphic Novels:

 

Melody by Sylvie Rancourt


 Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Displacement by Lucy Knisley 

 

 

 

Not Funny Ha Ha by Leah Hayes

 



Stock up on more feminist friendly zines and reading material here!

 

Images Via Mightygirl, NPR, TheArtBookReview, Serpentstail, MelissaBroder, Electricliterature, Fantagraphics, Amazon, DrawnandQuarterly, FriskyReads

 

10 Life Lessons We Learned From Nancy Drew

This week (April 28th) we celebrated the 85th Birthday of Nancy Drew, and although her adventures can seem a little dated, we have learned a lot from this badass lady sleuth. At the time there weren't many role models for girls who were all things brainy, brave and feminine, and the values she instilled in us are timeless. Here are 10 of our favorites:

Women Can Do Anything - Even In A Skirt

Patriarchy didn’t stop Nancy Drew, and neither did her flawless style. This woman could do just about anything, and most of the time she did it in pleats and plaids. This is not only impressive because skirts can be hard, but because it challenges the stereotypical norm of femininity. A lady who can wear cute little heels and kick ass? Yes, please!

Love What You Do

If there was one thing Nancy Drew taught us about it was the passion the right career could bring to a person’s life. Nancy was the happiest when she was digging out some old painting or uncovering some scandalous secret, and although sleuthing didn’t come naturally to all of us, it inspired us to find that thing that did.

Solving Mysteries Is The Best Summer Job

Can you think of any better way to spend a summer than creeping around old houses and running into oddballs with something to hide? Yes? Well then we have nothing more to say to each other.

Curiosity Is Key

Curiosity is at the heart of all Nancy’s adventures, as well as at the heart of what drives all of us every day. We keep asking questions, and we keep wondering, which is how we keep advancing, technologically and culturally. When curiosity dies, so does passion.

Lady Friends Rule

Nancy Drew's friends aren’t always up for her shenanigans, but the fact that they help her out anyway is the true meaning of friendship. She never pretends to be a solo act, and she surrounds herself with supportive people who love her (even though they think she’s kind of crazy) and would do anything for her.

Finding A Partner In Crime Who Totally Gets You Is Key

Ned Nickerson is THE DUDE. Not only is he just the sweetest, he is all about Nancy’s mystery-solving game. Support is one of the most important qualities in a boo. Nancy doesn’t settle for anyone who doesn’t get that she’s independent and brave, and neither should anyone else.

You Have To Take Risks

Nancy never shied away from a creepy staircase, cave, or carnival. The girl was fearless. Taking risks doesn’t just reward those searching for clues, it’s essential for anyone in their professional and personal life.

Don’t Always Trust Super Friendly People

Okay, yes, some people are simply born to be bubbles of happiness, and although all this goodness seems impossible, it’s totally not. On the other hand, all the friendliest people Nancy comes across usually end up being the villains in the end. Coincidence? Let’s just say it is lovely to find those naturally wonderful people--but there is power in protecting your heart, and not eliminating any suspects until there is solid proof!

Find Time To “Do You”

Nancy knew when to take a personal day, whether it was shopping with her friends, or a party with her main squeeze. It’s important to be driven and determined, but just as important to give yourself a rest and hit recharge once in a while.

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Maggie Young Talks Sex, Feminism, and Military Misogyny

When Maggie Young started writing a memoir about the 23 men she slept with between the ages of 16 and 26, she didn’t expect it to become a liberating and relatable story for women living in an age still plagued by misogynistic treatment, absurd double standards, and impossible expectations.

But that’s exactly what Just Another Number is: A raw, honest reflection on her adolescence through early adulthood that fearlessly details her struggles with bulimia, drugs, the military, and her dependence on male approval. Self aware and unafraid to offend with her brutal sense of humor, Young weaves an addictive story that combines some of our favorite guilty reading pleasures (sex, corruption, deceit...) with thoughtful musings about self-esteem, feminism, and personal growth. The entire book is worth a read, but for now, check out our brief interview with its bad ass author:

Where do your ideas about feminism come from?

For the longest time, women couldn't vote. They couldn't own property. They couldn't hold self supporting jobs. I don't think they were even allowed to own credit cards until the 70s. With very few exceptions, a woman's only way to survive was through marriage. So naturally, her whole life revolved around being ideal wife material. A woman's entire frame of mind was structured around being alluring and pleasing to men. When you think about it, the feminist progressions of the last 100 years are a very rapid shift after thousands of years of patriarchy. What’s happened is that our social and emotional evolution hasn’t caught up to our economic and political evolution.

How do you think the military is handling that evolution?

They’re making progress, but the military is still very behind on gender equality. Yes, troops are trained in sexual harassment, told to watch cheesy videos, and are, at face value, educated on how to serve with the opposite sex. But do you remember the way we all rolled our eyes and made dick jokes during the slideshow of a woman covered in eye herpes for Sex Ed junior year? That's what military sexual harassment training is like.

Why is that, do you think?

The military is very caught up in their traditional image—a WWII poster of glorious boys in uniform marching through a parade after defeating the bad guys—and women are a threat to that image. From what I saw, their way of putting them in their place was to sexualize them. When the ship was made aware that a female would be boarding, the men would place bets on who would fuck her first. As soon as she arrived on board, they would gather in conversations about her body, her face, the way her ass looked in uniform, the way she looked at a man, whether or not she seemed like a good girl or a whore, and so on and so forth.

So it’s hard to escape harsh scrutiny and objectification as a female on the ship?

A woman is never considered a sailor in the Navy. She is either a dyke or a slut. I remember being warned in boot camp not to sleep with a man on the ship because the second I did, I would be considered a whore my entire enlistment. And it was true. If you sleep with them, you're a whore. If you don't, you're a dyke.

How did you handle that?

I thrived off male attention because it was my means of valuation, so I slept with them. Then I was considered one of the biggest sluts on the ship, and this was emotionally detrimental because I cared so much about what men thought.

Is that something you still care strongly about?

For as long as I can remember, it was ingrained in my brain that my ultimate goal in life was to find love. It was in my Disney movies, my magazines, and my social interactions. But it’s an outdated myth that women need men. Unless a man is a positive addition to our life, his purpose has expired.

Just Another Number is available now

Images via Maggie Young

10 Times Toni Morrison Completely Shifted The Way We See The World

Toni Morrison has been a powerhouse of wisdom and truth ever since her first book, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. We have hung on her every word and yearned for the guidance in her novels. Fittingly, she has acquired a heap of achievements including a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And she doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the poignant department as she approaches 84 glorious years of age. Her recent novel, God Save The Child, is just as richly detailed and meaningful as anything she’s ever written. It contains that lyrical voice that is so unique to Morrison: poetic, universal, sorrowful, and bold. We can’t even find the right words to describe Morrison’s craft, so we’ll just let her speak for herself. Here are ten times Toni Morrison delivered us insightful and unshakable truths:

1. “At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens—that letting go—you let go because you can.” - Tar Baby

2. “Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God.” - Paradise

3. “Anger ... it's a paralyzing emotion ... you can't get anything done. People sort of think it's an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling—I don't think it's any of that—it's helpless ... it's absence of control—and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers ... and anger doesn't provide any of that—I have no use for it whatsoever.”- Interview with Don Swaim (1987)

4. “In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can't take positions that are closed. Everything I've ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book—leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”- Salon Interview (1998)

 

5. “Was there anything so loathsome as a wilfully innocent man? Hardly. An innocent man is a sin before God. Inhuman and therefore untrustworthy. No man should live without absorbing the sins of his kind, the foul air of his innocence, even if it did wilt rows of angel trumpets and cause them to fall from their vines.”-Tar Baby

6. “You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn—by practice and careful contemplations—the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.” - Paradise

7. “The idea of a wanton woman is something I have inserted into almost all of my books. An outlaw figure who is disallowed in the community because of her imagination or activity or status—that kind of anarchic figure has always fascinated me. And the benefits they bring with them, in spite of the fact that they are either dismissed or upbraided—something about their presence is constructive in the long run.”- O, The Oprah Magazine ( 2003)

8. “You need intelligence, and you need to look. You need a gaze, a wide gaze, penetrating and roving—thats what's useful for art.”- Interview with Don Swaim (1987)

9. “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”- Black Matters (1992)

10. “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”- Beloved

Images Via Loneoakpress, NPR, Bluestockings, Signed-Isabell