You may have seen on Swansea Bay TV recently that a new group has been started up by students of UWTSD and Swansea University – a feminist book club that meets monthly to discuss a book of our choice and feminist issues more generally.
We have no set meeting time or place, as we decided it would allow more people to participate if we varied this month to month, but you can find details of our next meeting by joining our Facebook group. Crucially, we also hold “Book Club Extra” events to appeal to those who perhaps don’t like reading or who can’t commit to reading a whole book in a month – these take the form of local exhibitions, film nights, shows, poetry and podcasts.
Our second meeting was last week, and the book we chose was My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen. Throughout this autobiography Allen speaks openly about sexuality, something we all found refreshing and radical in its own way. Her detailed account of her quest for an orgasm was done with humour, something we all appreciated as female sexual pleasure is so often overlooked, alongside her brutal honesty regarding codependency in relationships and how this sometimes becomes toxic and debilitating. We talked about Allen’s privilege growing up in the media industry, and how this shaped her career, but also the setbacks she experienced because of this. We agreed on the importance of owning your experiences, and taking an active responsibility to elevate other women because of and in spite of them. Without giving too much away, there were parts of the book which showed at even the most powerful and influential women in society aren’t exempt from victim blaming and the shaming that comes with it. We discussed the expectations and portrayal of mothers in the media, and the unfortunate reality that miscarriage is still such a taboo subject on many platforms. This book was suggested by Laura, and voted on by the group at our last meeting.
Our next meeting will be held on Friday 22nd March, where we’ll be discussing Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, an African-American author who writes science fiction for both adults and teens. Thank you to Inès for this month's book suggestion! We look forward to reading it, as it deals with issues surrounding race and ethnicity in a post-apocalyptic future. In the meantime, we’ll be going to Cinema & Co. to see The Miseducation of Cameron Post on Thursday 28th February (film starts at 7.30pm), which is about about gay conversion therapy in America. A few of us have already bought tickets for a Q&A with Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, who will be talking about her new book The Burning on Thursday 7th March at Swansea University Bay Campus (starts at 7.30pm).
As the book club grows it is likely that we will start to explore ways to fundraise, so that everyone can attend our events and purchase books without economic barriers. After all, books can be expensive and it’s likely that at least some of the Book Club Extra events will have a financial cost attached to them. Therefore, please do not be put off joining for any reason, we will work to accommodate you and your needs as best we can.
In conjunction with Swansea University Feminist Society we have also established a shared recommendations list for feminist books, films, articles and just about everything else – we’ll be updating it regularly so be sure to check it out and maybe add your own suggestions here!
The group isn’t exclusively for students, and we welcome people from all backgrounds. We aren’t exclusively female, either, and stress the need for people of all genders to engage with feminism – our struggles are interconnected and we all face oppressions (albeit in different ways) under the patriarchy. We hope this book club will provide a space to discuss and explore topics which may otherwise be off-limits for those who are genuinely curious and open to learning. We also hope that it will help build skills within the group, as we take it in turns to organise and facilitate meetings,
which is valuable experience. If you’d like to be involved, then please join our Facebook group (Feminist Books & Where to Find Them) or email the Students Union for more information!