“Was wir Frauen wollen” (The Soul of a woman/Mujeres del alma mía) by Isabel Allende was such a comfort read. It was exactly what I needed after reading some heavier books in March. In this memoir Allende mixes feminist nonfiction with her own autobiography. The result is a beautiful book about life, aging and what is means to be a woman in this world.
Allende does not only tell us the story of her life and what inspired her feminist views but also points out why feminism and the struggle for gender equality are still extremely relevant today. It’s easy to read and super interesting because she shares many of the experiences she made throughout her life in different parts of he world.
To me her anecdotes sometimes felt like a bit listening to my grandma, probably because my grandma was also born in the 1940s. Even though they had extremely different lives it made me realize again how much has changed for women in that short time. Nevertheless, it also showed me how much still needs to change.
I was surprised by how up-to-date Allende is with feminist discourses. Knowing German second wave feminists of the same age (the Germans probably know who I’m talking about) I had rather low expectations. However, she also said a few things that I found critical and problematic. One example: That she’d like to be bisexual or lesbian because being attracted to women is somehow better or easier? Considering how many members of the LGBTQI+ community wordlwide face discrimination, marginalisation and oppression that statement is quite inconsiderate.
Still it was an overall beautiful and very accessible book about feminism and life. You shouldn’t expect great factual revelations if you pick up this book to learn about feminism. But you can expect a glimpse into the perspective of an inspiring, strong yet imperfect woman and her views on gender equality, aging and what feminism and being a woman means to her.