This Women’s History Month, I’ve been thinking about women’s power and how it can be found in the stories they tell.
Listening to Meghan Markle speak to Oprah recently about the agony of isolation and racism she experienced.
Going on the Pacific Trail with Cheryl Strayed as she burns off her pain and grief.
Reading Chanel Miller’s searing story of surviving the aftermath of a brutal assault and the unsatisfying justice that followed.
And in the last year of America’s reckoning with race and violence, it’s been women’s voices leading us. We are living in the time of Rachel Ricketts and Laverne Cox and Ijeoma Oluo guiding us to the work we need to do.
Sometimes the stories women are telling fall into the category of nonfiction, while other times, women are using fiction as a way to tell powerful stories and open the door to important conversations. In both cases, these stories make us think and challenge the way we think about the world around us.
Women’s power can be found in the stories that they tell.
Of course, it’s also been a year of binge-watching “Bridgerton.” And the conversations that followed that – aside from the delightful R-rated asides – was also something that made me think. At first glance, it seemed to be a soapy tv show based on a popular romance series. Instead, it led to deep talks with friends I never would have gotten into otherwise about race and consent.
My point is that sometimes when we talk about the absolute necessity of women’s voices, we mostly think about those capital-I “Important” essays and interviews and memoirs. And this isn’t to minimize them. But women’s writing in fiction can also make a HUGE difference in how others see the world, even if the power behind the message is wrapped in something else.
Women are making an impact in fiction.
Stories open the door to important conversations.
We recently worked with first time novelist Mardine Perrins on her book, Expiration Date. It’s the story of a woman who’s determined to find answers in a post-apocalyptic society where resources are limited and the government has taken control of people’s lifespans. She challenges readers to think about things like the role of our government, whose needs need to be prioritized when resources are scarce, what it means to “go along” with powerful people and the ethics of reproduction. Every single one of these topics was relevant to the world today, but this medical thriller set in the future really makes you think about these topics in a new light.
Next month we’re helping to launch The Truth About Unspeakable Things, the debut book from Emily Myers. It’s another work of fiction that goes deep on issues of sexual assault, the good old boys’ networks still out there, abortion and forgiveness. It also tells the story of a romance that overcomes it, and a self-love that lets it happen. Reading it sparked passionate conversations between the team members. Some of the discussions got really personal in a way we hadn’t expected at the beginning. It brought us together.
But novels aren’t the only path to sharing something powerful. Another client, Valerie Abbott, is publishing her children’s book in May, and it speaks to parents of children with hearing loss in a way I’m not sure anything else could. It sends a message of love, acceptance and hope to kids and their families who are experiencing a new diagnosis, and it also shares the journey for the benefit of kids who are welcoming a new friend with hearing loss into their world. I laughed the first time I read it – it captures the annoyed adoration a big sister has for a little one so well, and the pain and disbelief that comes with knowing a loved one has a different path than the one you expected. It’s a massive impact in a little book. Nothing else could have told this story – based on one that Valerie experienced herself with her own daughter – better or more effectively than this children’s book.
Women are telling powerful and diverse stories.
So as we finish out Women’s History Month, I hope you’ll find some stories women are telling that go beyond our pain and trauma, that are in different forms than you usually seek out, and that you find something wonderful there!
And if you’re looking for diverse voices and a meaningful discussion about the need for diverse voices in our industry, join us for a great panel on March 30 at 1pm EST. This FREE webinar will be a thoughtful conversation between some of my favorite women in this field. Register to join us right here.