The Future is Feminist

Guest post by Olivia Castetter

I was recently having a conversation with an older gentleman about reading when he asked who my favorite author was. Picking favorites has never been my forte, so I had to think for a moment. While I did, he listed his favorites—Hemingway, Twain, Steinbeck, and Orwell. Of course, I knew their names immediately, though Hemingway was the only one whose works I haven’t read yet. Eventually, I replied and said that my favorite author was Margaret Mitchell. The silence stretched between us, and I wondered if he knew who she was. Then recognition dawned on him, and he asked me if I’d been to Atlanta to tour her house. I said I hadn’t, kicking myself for doubting that he, clearly an avid reader, knew who a Pulitzer Prize-winning author was, until I remembered there weren’t that many famous women authors in years past and even fewer people who know who they are. The conversation has stuck with me for several weeks now, so I decided to search for famous writers.

Of the fifty-two names Google immediately pulled up of writers from the late 1700s to today, only thirteen were women—and only three were women of color. This means that over the course of more than 250 years, only thirty percent of the most famous writers were women.

However, when I searched for famous writers of the twenty-first century, of the fifty writers Google presented me with, nineteen were women, with three of them being women of color. By comparison, in the mere twenty-three years of the twenty-first century, thirty-eight percent of the most famous writers are women.

As a woman who writes, in part, about women’s issues, that eight-percent difference fills me with a sense of hope and accomplishment. When I think about my work with Josha, how this is a woman-founded, woman-led, and woman-run company—and, at this point in time, how all of our authors are women—I feel like women writers are finally receiving the space they’ve always deserved, whether that’s on the bookshelf or in the professional realm.

Of course, we haven’t been given that space—we’ve claimed it for ourselves, as conquerors tend to do. And, whether it’s been the reason we did so in the first place or a byproduct of where we are now, having that space means we finally have the opportunity to tell the stories that have been kept in silence for generations.

Our stories of survival, the things we have and are currently overcoming.

Our stories of redemption, the ways in which we sometimes fail but find the courage to try again.

Our stories of hope, how we somehow find something to cling to when it seems all is lost, at least until we find the missing element, or even ourselves, once more.

Our stories of healing, why we hurt and how we got the scars…how desperately we strive to ensure that the toxic and traumatic cycles in our family trees end with us.

Our stories of passion and pleasure, and what happens when a woman’s experience is as valued as a man’s, whether that’s in the boardroom or the bedroom.

The truth is, women have always had voices, just like we’ve always had stories. And women have always been eager to know each other’s stories, whether it was in a sewing circle as we mended men’s uniforms, holding hands as we helped each other give birth or breathe our last, in the kitchen as we fed our families, or in the fields, as we shared each other’s woes and cried out in song, the only storytelling device available to us. Though the medium has changed over the years, just as the activities we have done and the hands that have done them, we’ve always had stories to tell, and we’ve always known it was an honor to hear one another.

What’s exciting now, though, is that the world has started to realize that, too.

When I look to the future, as a writer, I’m personally incredibly grateful that my stories will be on a shelf somewhere, long after I’m gone. They won’t die with me, and they won’t have to be trusted only to those who loved me. That notion is thrilling. However, I can’t feel that elation without also grieving for the generations of women and their stories we’ll never know, because their space on the shelf wasn’t respected. But instead of letting that grief overwhelm me, I let it flow from me, into everything I write, because I carry generations of the women’s stories in my family—I am the product of their stories, the branch of our family tree with a chance to withstand the winds of any forceful gust that may blow my way.

Because I am a woman. We have stood strongly for generations, and we will continue to do so…and because the winds are changing.

Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about booksstories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions update.

The Future is Feminist