Yes, I Read.
I once asked a man for help. I asked for his professional opinion regarding my career trajectory. He gave it without reservation. And while he had some positive remarks, his overall assessment was that nothing about me read: writer. I was offended but remained silent.
“Do you read,” he asked. “Who are your favorite authors?”
I stammered, struggling to find a response that would impress him, but said the first thing that came to mind and quickly diverted the attention away from me. For the remainder of our conversation, I hid behind his ego. Dodging bullets of condescension, wading in the familiar inequity of this common exchange between men in power and women on the rise. Of course, I resented his behavior but more so I was disappointed in myself. Why had I stayed so stuck — so demure, meek and false?
After the awkward meeting I sought alternate avenues of support: namely female ones. Chief among them was, Cristina Cala, founder and creative director of the most badass feminist book club in town, a woman who knows exactly which ones I need on my nightstand.
The Why Women Project, a creative agency and talent collective specializing in storytelling from the feminist gaze, dedicated Women’s History Month to breaking free of silence culture. (FYI: that would be this month, March. And, today, is International Women’s Day.)
I joined the group on March 2nd at The Wing Flatiron to hear Cala and Reema Zaman, author of the project’s March pick for Feminist Book Club, discuss the insidious oppression of the female perspective. Both women spoke with authority and their duet was informed, comprehensive and inspired.
Zaman, the first Bangladeshi woman to write a memoir on themes of abuse, treated us to a reading from her debut work, “I Am Yours,” a memoir whose most powerful line is “To speak is a revolution.” It was clear she could not be more perfectly aligned with Why Women’s mission to rewrite the ending to these universal narratives by claiming our own voices.
The Why Women Project
As women, we are constantly silenced or told to “be less.” By bringing attention to this book and the mission of Why Women’s book club—to advance women and writers of color and engage in “Required Reading to Inform Your Feminism”—Why Women hopes to help aspiring feminists discover the important work of Why Women and our featured authors. And inspire readers to find the courage and power to speak in the face of silence culture.
Join The Why Women Project and stay connected to trailblazers like Zaman. Also find out how you can support women-led businesses such as Shiffon Co., a fine jewelry brand whose foundation Startup Girl funds budding entrepreneurs with proceeds from their best-selling Duet Pinky Ring.
Happy International Women’s Day!