With International Women’s Day just gone on March 8, now is the perfect opportunity to indulge in the remarkable arts and culture created by women, from films and TV to music and books. To celebrate the day, and women overall, I’m going to list a few of my top picks of the best works created by women.
Firstly, let’s talk about books. I am an avid reader; I always have been and I am always looking for the next best book. One of my all-time favourites is Normal People by Sally Rooney, which was released in 2018. I had heard great reviews prior, so when I picked the book up I already had high expectations.
The story is set in Ireland and follows the somewhat of a loner Marianne Sheridan and the popular Connell Waldron, two people we see grow and evolve together through the last years of school and into university. The book is emotional and relatable and, in parts, it actually made me cry. I began to root for the characters, I wanted to see them together, I was furious when they were ripped apart (mostly by their own doing and their several unsuited partners) but it was honestly the best book I had read in a while.
Rooney created this complex relationship between the two that held themes of class and social hierarchy but also lust and love. It was, for me, different to other romance novels because this one felt real. That may sound a bit cliché but it was nostalgic and sad and exhilarating all at once. Exploring hardships between couples and the obstacles they face made for a really astounding and significant read, one which I thank Rooney for.
The second book I have chosen as a great example of exciting reads from female authors is My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Released in 2018 and set in Lagos, sisters Korede and Ayoola hide deadly secrets – Ayoola ‘accidentally’ kills her boyfriends. It’s a cleverly comical piece, with themes of love, loss and family. With this book being Braithwaite’s debut piece, I had to admit that, after I had finished it, I wanted to immediately read it again.
The book was hailed The Times Number One Bestseller – deservedly so, in my opinion. I particularly enjoyed how Braithwaite created a strong female lead for the novel with other solid female characters to stand with the protagonist. Although I didn’t find this book as relatable as Normal People (for obvious reasons), I loved it regardless and found myself recommending it to friends and family.
As well as my love for reading, I have always had a fascination with television and film. Studying media at school for four years and then moving on to a journalism degree, allowed me to enjoy film and TV in depth. I always find myself analysing whatever I am watching, thinking about the camera angles used, costuming, casting…
One film that stands out to me as being rather poignant and fun is Moxie. Relatively new, this 2021 film, based on the book by Jennifer Mathieu, is about feminism and destroying the patriarchy to make women equal. It is set in a high school and follows a group of girls secretly lead by ‘Moxie’ (played by Hadley Robinson): a rebellion for the girls, by girls. Director, Amy Poehler (‘cool mom’ from Mean Girls) stars in the film also as Robinson’s mother and for me, Poehler did an excellent job at keeping the film fun whilst also tackling deep-rooted societal problems.
Personally, I really enjoyed the film and its refreshingly female cast (although I have always loved Ike Barinholtz). It explores how different people handle the topic of feminism and sexism, and different ways in which women can be treated within society no matter what age. For me, this would be a great example to show young girls early on of the kinds of issues women have faced and still do face to this day.
I wanted to add a bit about music because it plays a large part in a lot of people’s lives, including my own. My music taste is quite varied in terms of genre but I have to say there is one female artist that I have listened to since, well, forever.
English singer and songwriter, Nao, is one of my favourite artists and has been for many years. Her music is soulful and exciting, with tracks like ‘Trophy’ (with A.K. Paul) and ‘Bad Blood’ being two of her best songs for me. Her music style is very unique, with hints of funky synths, slow ballads and electric beats. She has released two albums and both are brimming with outstanding originality.
Even though International Women’s Day has been and gone, we should be supporting women all year round and one way is to listen to their music, watch their films, read their books. Support women wherever you can and celebrate the accomplishments they achieve.
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