Tracey Spicer was always the ‘good girl’, but she soon found out that television was, for women, less about news and more about helmet hair, masses of makeup and fatuous fashion. It was an era when bosses told you to “stick your tits out”, “lose two inches off your arse”, and “quit before you’re too long in the tooth”. When she was sacked by email after having a baby, this good girl turned bad, taking legal action against the network for discrimination. In her frank and funny femoir, The Good Girl Stripped Bare, out now , Tracey ‘sheconstructs’ the barriers facing women in the workplace, encouraging us to shake off the shackles of the ‘good girl’.
Here Tracey Spicer reveals ten of her favourite feminist memoirs:
How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.
As clichéd as it sounds, this book changed my life. Moran manages to connect centuries-old feminist theory with the travails of the modern woman, in a way that’s funny, rude and exceedingly clever. There are also traces of The Grapes of Wrath, in her warm portrayal of the working class. It’s fair to say Moran is my muse.
Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Although she’s best known as a comedian and TV producer, Fey writes this memoir with a whole lot of heart. It’s the kind of book you’d give to your teenage daughter. “Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions,” she writes. “Opinions will change organically when you’re the boss.” I love the cover, which features a photo of Fey with “man hands”, to quote Seinfeld.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
This is the first in a seven-volume series by Angelou. The lyricism of the language is simply superb. It’s a coming-of-age story about sexism, racism and trauma, told by a dignified young woman. Truly, it brings tears to the eyes.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham.
Dunham’s TV series, Girls, is nothing short of groundbreaking. This book is a little like a behind-the-scenes episode of the show, about the touchstones of fourth wave feminism. There are plenty of existential crises, but all are described with honesty and humour.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.
As a part-time travel writer, I understand Steinem’s desire for “taking to the road” to “lead us out of denial and into reality”. Working as a social activist, journalist, and political campaigner, she invites us into the homes and workplaces of women who are – so often – denied a voice.
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein.
What a raw and emotional tome this is, beneath the veneer of sneer. Klein drills down on the universal experience of anxiety, obsession and insecurity. This is a particularly good book for young women, who are feeling lost or alone.
Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford.
Oh yes, this book made me fist-pump and shout WOO HOO! Her righteous anger about inequality sears the pages, interspersing advice with snippets from childhood. To say it’s raw is an understatement. Ford – frankly – eviscerates herself for the benefit of the reader.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.” Adichie continues to come out with pearlers, after publishing this palm-sized book in 2014. In simple but powerful language, she explains why women’s rights are human rights.
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
As you would expect, this book is so sexually explicit, Schumer could be accused of over-sharing. But this is its strength. For decades, male comedians told jokes about such subjects, while women were labelled “sluts” or “slags”. Well, fu*k that. Amy Schumer is a rolled gold genius.
The Lucy Family Alphabet by Judith Lucy
Despite a dreadful upbringing, Lucy laughs about her lot in life. Rather than a series of punchlines, she delivers a dose of observational humour. Her tone is by no means bitter: She eventually forgives her parents for belatedly informing her they’re not actually her parents. Quite an oversight, one would have thought…
To purchase a copy of Tracey’s memoir The Good Girl Stripped Bare click here. Or listen to our Podcast with Tracey here.