I’m not going to lie. It’s been a fair while since I undertook a book review. Year 12 English perhaps? So I thought we’d bring you three books that have framed our year. Obviously, for your summer holiday reading; perhaps to peruse whilst lying on a beach, sipping sweet gin and working on those tan lines!
GAZELLA managed to get to the launch of Tara Moss’ and Clementine Ford’s books in Melbourne. Hearing both of these (very strong, but very different) women speak, was both inspiring and mind altering. Teagan Dowler’s seminal text (perhaps a little ironic given the dual meanings), was launched this week in Melbourne. Unfortunately we couldn’t be part of the crowd. Let’s just say that this should be required reading for any female entering the aptly termed ‘masculine industries’.
SPEAKING OUT // Tara Moss
Tara Moss is a badass. She dresses in vintage and steampunk, she is an active and a passionate advocate of human rights, a PhD Candidate and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to boot. If you don’t think she is a goddess (and I haven’t even mentioned her looks), then I have nothing left to say to you!
Her book is a handbook. In the very real sense that is is essentially a ‘how to guide’ on being a woman in 2016. It opens with a title ‘To Speak is to be Human’, and for this most extroverted, outspoken woman, that heading is a giant piper call to read on! It speaks about why women don’t speak out, what happens when they do and how they can (safely) go about gaining the confidence, skills and experience for SPEAKING OUT!
And quite literally how to speak out. How to use tone, project, how to calm nerves, respond, how to prepare, avoid common mistakes, how to establish boundaries, find sources and research, how to recognise a diversion, deal with trolls (not the coloured hair doll kind), how to take criticism…basically how to navigate in a world where women have traditionally and culturally been a silent partner.
And, what to do when it all goes terribly wrong!
This book has something for everybody. From your precocious fourteen year old, to your established, comfortable and experienced manager. This book would be a lovely one to have in your desk drawer for perusal at trying times!
Write. Be read. Make your voice heard.
FIGHT LIKE A GIRL // Clementine Ford
Clementine Ford is not for the faint of heart. She is one of those people that inspire that love/hate reaction. Some are put off by her feminist agenda. Others are inspired. As I read her book, I could feel the giant, beating heart of Ford and her story; through her unwavering drive to bring about gender equality. This woman could lead an army. And in a way… she already does.
Fight Like a Girl is the book of a fighter. A campaigner. The story of someone absolutely unapologetic for being a woman and having an opinion. It is also unapologetically emotional. At times angry. At other times joyous. At times thoroughly morose. Clem Ford speaks with a glorious rage, and yet the overall message is one of hope for the strength of women.
I’ve read people calling this book a manifesto. And really, it is Clem Ford’s declaration of her views, intentions and motives. Whether you have the fire of Ford or not, you can’t help but feel like this text is important. And it frames the feminist agenda squarely in 2016.
But the simple and most universal truth is that anxiety just makes you feel incredibly, desperately alone.
Particularly poignant for me is how she addresses her battles with mental illness. Her words are completely illuminating. Reading her book is like reading a diary or little parts of Clem Ford’s soul. Her words are touchingly honest, true and bare the heart of anxiety, depression and eating disorders. They also frame Clem’s fire and inner strength.
This book is powerful. That’s all there is left to say.*
RULES OF THE GAME: WOMEN IN THE MASCULINE INDUSTRIES // Teagan Dowler
Teagan Dowler may not be as fierce as Clementine Ford, but her book realises the importance of having the conversation, even though it may push the bounds of comfort or political correctness. It doesn’t matter if you have influence, whether you’re famous, or in a position of power. You can make a difference! This book resonates with me! Holy, moly, guacamole!
All too often, when we stand in the shadows of giants, we forget we are giants too.
Bam. (I loved that line when I read it).
Teagan has a background in Psychology so her book is well researched but also a fascinating review of unconscious bias, cultural bias, in-built societal influences and how gender diversity operates specifically in Australian culture. It brings to the fore why some approaches for equality may work here and why some may not.
Teagan offers helpful advice from the experiences of fifty men and women in the industry. On how to tackle problems, how to approach difficult situations on work sites and how to put yourself out there for success. She cuts through some of the myths that surround women and their place in professional life. It’s refreshing and offers us a way to bust some of those cliches!
Not to mention this book has a killer iconic cover. I don’t know who designed it, but they should be given a trophy in the shape of the pink-lady-in-hardhat-tie-and-dress that adorns cover in a sea of light cerulean blue. It’s a magenta, cyan face-off of beautiful intent.
All I can say is ‘Thank You Teagan Dowler.’ We needed this.
So now, whilst you’re busy googling the above, credit card in hand to make some sweet interweb purchases, I’ll leave you with my final thoughts.
What strikes me about all these books is that despite their varying messages and tones, there is a driving sense of positivity and optimism. That even though there are some fundamental problems and hard times for women, we will get there! We can achieve gender equality. Women can be successful. And that’s the same story we always aim to tell here at GAZELLA!
* Since writing, Fight Like a Girl, was voted ABC’s The Book Club viewers’ number one book of the year.