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Books about being a woman not about romance or children


Holmbo

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I feel like everytime anyone tries to explore the female perspective on something it comes back to romantic relationships or children. For men there's much more answers to the question "what does it mean to be a man?" some of them destructive sure but it's at least there. Do you know of any books exploring what does it mean to be a woman except in terms of romantic relationships and child rearing?

I don't know if my question makes sense to anyone but me, feel free to ask follow up questions.

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I'm not sure if this fits into what you're asking, but I just read a recommendation for Reviving Ophelia, which just got a 25th anniversary update, and that's what popped into mind upon reading your topic.

I would say probably a lot of trans literature explores this pretty well, too. Transgender Warriors is one I have on my list because I keep seeing amazing quotes from it. Gender Outlaws (which also has a sequel of sorts) is a fabulous one. Delusions of Gender is fantastic and might kinda fit the bill, too.

Maybe if you shared some of the books you're referencing about men, it would help illustrate what you're looking for?

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Thanks for the suggestions. I have delusions of gender on my e-reader so I'll start with checking that out.

Trying to be a bit more elaborate, I think what I'm looking for are explorations about a person's wider role in society. I feel that many stories with male protagonists there's exploration of themes like destiny or freedom. When the protagonist is female I feel like there is often more of a focus on the more immediate family and partner connections.

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Don't know if this is quite what you're looking for but the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett is kinda like that. There is romance, but it seems like an afterthought and is less important than doing what needs to be done for your community. They start as kids books but grow as Tiffany does. I might have some rose tinted glasses as I grew up with the books and haven't reread them for a while and may have less to do with being a woman than doing what needs to be done, but it will at least be a bit of a fun read.

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no such novels featuring adult female characters come to mind but there are coming-of-age ones like a tree grows in brooklyn by betty smith and invitation to the waltz by rosamond lehmann, and then there are non-fiction feminist works like the second sex by simone de beauvoir, the feminine mystique by betty friedan, and a room of one's own by virginia woolf.  note that all of these are 60-100 years old (i read mostly classic literature) but i think it's really helpful to have that perspective and i absolutely recommend these to everyone.

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Oooh, like fictional books are fine! I was stick on non-fiction, sorry. 

I wonder how you might like The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher. It explores really a couple of different things with a focus on the main protagonist as an old woman and her place in society and how she's viewed by others. It also touches on dealing with things like anxiety and PTSD. It's fantasy, about an elderly woman who is marked as the Chosen One to defeat an army of dragons and how no one believes in her. I'd say for a teen to young adult audience. 

30 to 50 Feral Hogs is about a woman who defies really all societal expectations of women. She's muscular, queer, loves to fight, non-feminine. It's about how she carved out a place for herself in the world and that all came crashing down on her, so now she's hiding out in a tiny little town hiding from her own shame. 

I'm not sure how you'd feel about the Paper Girls trilogy. It's a YA fantasy that explores the impacts and devastation of sexual assault and how wrapped up in oppression it is. But it deals a lot with societal expectations of women and the damage it does to them. 

There is a prominent romantic relationship (polyamorous) in Iron Widow, but I still really want to suggest it. The protag is technically nonbinary but that's not a concept that really exists in the world (set in a fantastical/sci-fi influenced historical China), so she presents and is treated as a woman at least through the entire first book. But it's got a ton of themes about misogyny and class that are more central to the plot than the romance. 

I have the book sitting on my shelf but have only watched the movie, but I feel like The Secret Life of Bees might be a fitting book here. It's about a lot of women who've carved a niche out for themselves kinda off in their own little world taking in a child of abuse who's trying to come to terms with her past and figure out who she is. It's a lot about finding your place in the greater world. 

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy has an aroace protagonist and def heavily explores themes of intersectional feminism, so might be good. 

I may be reaching with some of these. I'll keep thinking. 

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@hemogoblinthanks for the tips. I've read some of these already but not all. Your reply made me reflect again on what I'm looking for. I think part of it is about growing up in Sweden and the views of gender equality and feminism that results in. I'll read some of the recommendations for a start and maybe they will help me reflect more about it.

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Ooh, I'm in a bunch of different book groups online and someone mentioned City of Girls, which sounds relevant. It sounds like it definitely includes relationships but also so much more. 

"It was one of my book club books.  Not my usual horror reads.  It had a profound effect on me.  It is about a woman through the 1900's growing up.  It shows so many things that affected women and their decisions through the decades.  It was an absolutely amazing read.  It covers all of the topics from women being "encouraged" to marry, to going from privileged to being on your own, gay rights, Womens' rights,  and none of it being pushy through the story.  It is just told through her eyes as she goes through life."

Oh, and I was wondering if Anne Lister might be an interesting avenue. More non-fiction, but I believe her diaries have been published and Steidele did a biography that looks pretty good. I will say that the TV show Gentleman Jack made her out to be rather emotionally abusive, so just a potential trigger warning. I have no idea how much of that aspect was inspired by her diaries or made up for entertainment. 

Edited by hemogoblin
Dammit, how the heck do you quote on mobile???
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