“The List Of Shit That Made Me A Feminist” – The Story Behind The Book

By Farida D

“What made you a feminist?”

This is the question that I was asking myself when I began writing what ended up being my poetry book “THE LIST OF SHIT THAT MADE ME A FEMINIST”. 

When I started this project, I was using a reflective technique to dig into myself and try to pinpoint that debilitating moment that made me a feminist. After some soul-searching, I quickly realized there isn’t one incidence or moment. Furthermore, it wasn’t just the things that were happening to me that made me a feminist, but also the infuriating oppressions around me. 

Suddenly, I was finding answers, as to what made me a feminist, in the most random of places. In news articles, TV shows, and children storybooks. I found answers talking to women while queuing for overpriced Starbucks coffee paid from our unequal pay cheques, at beauty parlors where we spend even more money to look perfect, in gynecologist waiting rooms being told to get over our pains already, in conference rooms where we represent a minority, and at highly gendered family gatherings.

I found answers in dialogues that ranged from the expectations to conform to a beauty ideal, to discovering at the age of 50 that a woman can have an orgasm! I became more observant in my fleeting discussions about beauty, body image, modesty, virginity, sex, love, marriage, motherhood and more. I realized that what made me a feminist, is not just the shit I went through, but also experiences that I have never gone through (and might never even go though myself), but in which I largely find important and want to fight for. 

I ended up with a massive list which I polished into 200 reasons that answer the question as to what made me a feminist. Due to the universal relevance of women’s struggles, I decided that I want to share my list with a wider audience. Thus, the book idea emerged. 

As a researcher in my day job, I am used to reporting findings in a monotonous, jargon-filled, and often boring manner. But this research project was about me and for me, and I wanted to publish it outside of my job, therefore I did not have to succumb to a traditional research writing approach. During this time, I came across Janne Robinson’s book of poetry “This Is For The Women Who Don’t Give A Fuck”. Her words were not only medicine during my times of despair, but they rekindled my romance with poetry writing. My love for reading and writing poetry was born ever since I was 8 years old, but I somehow lost it amidst affairs with other writing styles. Thus, for a project about myself it felt fitting to use poetry, and so I began writing my list in concise poetic verse. I feel that poetry, in contrast to other styles of writing, touches the emotions of the reader- and I wanted my list to touch readers the way it has touched me.


Another non-traditional element I used to convey my work is that I did not use titles for my poetic pieces- instead I just numbered them as a list. The reader has the freedom to either view the book as one 300+ page poem, as several smaller distinct poems, merely as a list, or even as a self-help book. You can read the book from cover to cover, or open any random page in the middle. There is no right order and no contents page. 

I am well aware that forgoing titles is not common practice or recommended in poetry communities. But I was inspired by the style of Emily Dickinson, defiantly known for omitting titles in her poetry (titles were added later by her editors because it was customary for published poems to have titles). It is argued that an absence of title leaves the reader ‘lost’ about the topic of a poem. 

However, leaving the reader ‘lost’ and consequently encouraging them to find their own way (like I found out mine), is my deliberate intention. I believe that titles have a bias in guiding the reader’s understanding of a poem to a certain path, and I did not want to interfere in a reader’s interpretation. Like the way I figured out my feminism in everyday artifacts and conversations that do not come with titles, I want the reader to reflect and find their own perspective. 

Within hours of being available for sale, the book hit the number one bestseller list for Middle Eastern poetry and literature on Amazon, and it continues to stay on the bestselling charts (now more than a month since its release). It is earning positive reviews and heart-warming messages of support from readers all around the world. It is my goal that upon reading the book, women would feel empowered to let go of all the shit that stands in the way of their self love, worthiness, and happiness.

Author dedication: This article is dedicated to my mentor and soul sister Janne Robinson (poet, columnist, motivational speaker, coach, and author of “This Is For The Women Who Don’t Give A Fuck”)- her words are my medicine.

Farida D. is an Arab gender researcher, studying Arab women’s everyday oppressions for over a decade. Through the process, she broke up with her hijab and set all of her high heels on fire. She may be reached for correspondence at: farida-d@outlook.com
“THE LIST OF SHIT THAT MADE ME A FEMINIST” is now on sale (e-book and paperback) on all Amazon websites:

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