‘Women and Literature’ by Ella Todd, Year Eleven

Reading always has, and always will, continue to remain a huge aspect of my life. Grasped by every detail, I believe it’s essential for people to lose them self in a story.

When I was baby I moved to Cyprus and lived there for five years. As a young girl I always despised wearing skirts and having the pain of princess books being inflicted upon me. As I grew older, I was constantly told to not play football with the boys and told to draw pretty pictures instead of writing adventure stories about the explosive happenings of a valiant explorer with all the gory details that I desired. I was encouraged to read fairy books and tales of princesses on their search for a prince, when all I really wanted to do was immerse myself in the action and glory of what was declared to be… ‘boys books’. After officially being labelled a tom-boy by the age of five,  I had enough of idealism and following orders to which I really could not understand. Ella, you should not be reading those gruesome books! Ella, why don’t you wear a summer dress to school; that’s very strange?

When I moved back to England, I was now being raised by a single parent; my mum. Her strength and independence had shaped and moulded me and my behaviour and I will be eternally grateful for her relentless efforts in keeping me enthusiastic, independent and strong. She encouraged me to write my stories, read all the books I desired and I didn’t even have to wear pink! I had become obsessed with the unique beauty of each individual person and how fascinating my role models in my books really were. Page after page characters left a piece of them in my heart, shaping the person I have become today. Matilda, Catniss, Rachel, Jane, Elizabeth, Alice, Hermione, endless amounts of fictional characters that became so real. They orbited my mind for weeks on end, every single detail plunged itself into my soul and is now releasing itself as an independent ray of motivation.

Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, The Bell Jar, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Girl on the Train are just a few of the books I believe women should read by the time they’re 20, at least. Not only influential but mind shifting and thought provoking, these books can alter your perceptions of women and their situations. It is hugely important for women and girls to be aware and not blinded to the struggles we must face daily. Books like these open our eyes, making us aware of the intimidating world around us and how we can face it, following in the footsteps of the influential women that pave our journey.

I believe women have come a long way from being vulnerable objects of sexual desire and kitchen bound workers whose only aspiration is marriage. As a young woman myself with aspirations of power and a respectable role in today’s society, I feel extremely proud and privileged to have witnessed the ongoing uprising of women’s formidability.