What We Read, Watched, and Listened to in 2018
Women-Focused or Women-Created Books, Podcasts, and Movies We Loved
In the steady stream of content we receive and can access each day, how do we decide what’s worth our precious time to read, watch, or listen to? WFCO staff and board members share the women-focused podcasts, books, and movies we found to be well worth our time in 2018 and hope you’ll check them out. Let us know in the comments what you recommend!
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud
There is no question the way in which our society views women filters through many different lenses. For better or for worse, one of those lenses is celebrity. As a questioning feminist and diehard pop culture fan, I am always looking to better understand celebrity’s impact on the way we think about women. Anne Helen Petersen’s 2017 book Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is an anthology approach to dissecting notorious and beloved icons whose images quintessentially tie to a way we oft-think of the women in our world. Among 10 very well-known women AND the labels we’ve all heard and quite possibly muttered ourselves: Serena Williams is “too strong,” Madonna is “too old,” and Lena Dunham is “too naked.” The way that Petersen questions these deeply held stereotypes and questions the nuances of power and celebrity opened this self-described pop culture conspiracy theorist’s eyes.
– Alison Friedman Phillips, manager of programs
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
As a busy working mom of two young daughters, most of the books I read these days are children’s selections filled with empowering messages. Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty, which encourages young inventors to try, fail, and try again (and again), was the first book I read to my eldest daughter. Me… Jane, a profile of Jane Goodall, emphasizes the importance of following your dreams. DC Super Heroes: My First Book of Girl Power is another favorite in our house, but the book that’s sparked the best conversations is She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. The inspiring stories of these brave, tenacious women help my daughters understand their limitless potential and how much the world needs them to be leaders for equity and justice.
– Louise Myrland, vice president of programs
“You could call this selfhood many things — transformation, metamorphosis, falsity, betrayal. I call it an education.” These are the words of Tara Westover, author of the bestselling novel, Educated, on her journey to becoming her own person. Born into a family of survivalists in Idaho, Westover never attended school until she was in her teens. Isolated on her family’s compound, she had no access to books. By surmounting great hurdles, the greatest of which was her family, she attended college. She formed her own opinions. She became her own person. It cost her her family, but she gained her own identity, beliefs, values, and worth. Across the world, we know millions of girls are denied an education, and I am guilty of forgetting it happens in the U.S., too. This book reinforced to me the power that an education gives a woman and that we must continue to make education accessible for all.
– Lisa Christie, senior director of communications
Podcasts to Ponder
The Guilty Feminist
When I am ready to step outside the serious issues of the day, I enjoy listening to The Guilty Feminist podcast. With her Australian accent, Comedian host Deborah Frances-White talks about serious subjects, but makes plenty of room for our frailties. What resonates with me is that many of us are working hard to make lives better for women, but we are not all perfect and can bond over these imperfections as we can over the hard work. It is also a hoot to listen to and I feel like I am having coffee with a bunch of my friends.
– Stephanie Bruno, board chair
I’m a podcast evangelist. True crime? Comedy? Finance? Politics? Whatever your favorite genre, I’ve got a recommendation for you. Lately, my commute has been dedicated to catching up on Code Switch, an NPR show on race, identity, and culture. They promise, “Sometimes, we’ll make you laugh. Other times, you’ll get uncomfortable.” and they definitely deliver. Hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby tell stories such as “A Prescription for ‘Racial Imposter Syndrome’” and “Word Watch: A Code Switch Game Show” that help me examine my identity and privilege as a bi-racial, white-passing Latina and feed my love of learning and language. Their timely and topical reporting, deeply personal storytelling, and ability to explore race with both honesty and nuance make Code Switch a must-listen for people of color and white allies alike.
– Camisha Lashbrook, donor relations and communications manager
RBG tells the groundbreaking story of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Through this thoughtful documentary (and the book, Notorious RBG, that preceded it), Justice Ginsburg’s story is one that should be known to all. RBG shares the incredible moments and trying times of the life of Justice Ginsburg, including her history-making dissents and amazing love story between she and her husband, Marty. Justice Ginsburg demonstrates that through patience and tenacity we can all play a role in making the world a better place. After watching this film, I could not be more thankful for and inspired by Justice Ginsburg. I’m excited for the future ahead.
– Krissy Vaio, development officer and events manager
The Hate U Give
Based on the young adult novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give is a fictionalized take on the Black Lives Matter movement through the lens of Starr Carter, a high school student in an unnamed city. Starr lives two different lives. Starr 1.0 is the Starr we see with her family and childhood friends in her tightly knit, yet violent, urban neighborhood. Starr 2.0 is the version we see when she attends her upper-class suburban school, where every word she utters is painstakingly choreographed to navigate the white privilege she encounters. When her childhood friend is killed by the police and Starr witnesses the shooting, her two worlds uncomfortably collide, and she must make the difficult choice to be her true self in spite of the consequences.
– Lisa Christie, senior director of communications