It’s an exciting time for feminist literature. Bookstores are bursting with feminist reads, representing diverse voices and the advocacy for women’s rights. Of course, titles like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and bell hooks’ Ain’t I a Woman? will always be classics. But as times change, it’s also important to read a variety of fresh perspectives.
These titles explore domestic violence, reproductive rights, gender identity, and more. They remind us that we’ve come a long way in the fight for equal rights, but that we still have a long way to go. Whether you’re still new to the women’s movement or you’ve worn our your copy of Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, welcome! These feminist reads are for you.
1. “Unspeakable Things” by Laurie Penny
Laurie Penny’s passion for feminism is seriously contagious. In Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution, she examines gender and the treatment of women in a variety of institutions, from the internet to the workplace. She asks the tough questions and insists they’re the most important. Proceed with a pen or a pack of Post-Its, because you’ll want to mark every page, memorize every quote, and text each inspiring passage to your friends.
If you loved Bad Feminist, you’ll devour this collection of stories by Roxane Gay. Her “difficult women” aren’t actually difficult; they’ve experienced the difficulties of life. With themes like sexual abuse, loss, and grief, Difficult Women is hard to read at times. But that just makes it all the more important. If you can’t wait for Gay’s upcoming Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, this will help tide you over until June.
Chances are, you know Ariel Levy from her current bestseller, The Rules Do Not Apply. If you loved that, you’ll definitely enjoy her first book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. With her trademark wit, Levy argues that yes, the women’s movement still has work to do, but it’s not entirely men’s fault. She also introduces readers to a new generation of feminists: the empowered female chauvinist pigs.
Want to start learning more about feminism, but aren’t sure where to begin? Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters is the perfect introductory text on the subject. Jessica Valenti writes simply and colloquially, like a good friend. She’s informative and funny without sounding like a textbook. This is the second edition of the text, and in it, Valenti includes a new foreword and new chapter introductions reflecting on what’s changed since the book’s original 2007 publication.
Jezebel, Mammy, and Sapphire are three of the biggest stereotypes African-American women face today. In Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, Melissa V. Harris-Perry explains their impact on how black women view themselves and how they’re portrayed by others. A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand black women’s ongoing struggle for recognition.
Fans of Roxane Gay will enjoy The Essential Ellen Willis. This collection of essays, spanning the 1960s to the 2000s, addresses issues of the women’s movement, sex, abortion, race, class, and more that are just as relevant today as they were then. If that’s not enough, sections of the book are introduced by today’s young writers who echo Willis’s insightful voice.
Living a Feminist Life will give you the tools necessary for living a feminist life. Sara Ahmed delivers a solid introduction to feminism and explains how feminist theory comes from our everyday experiences. Honestly, we were on board the moment we read bell hook’s review: “Everyone should read this book.” Sold.
Think you know everything there is to know about the lasso-wielding, bracelet-wearing superhero? Think again. In addition to her secret identity, Diana Prince also has a secret history. It starts with her creator, William Moulton Marston. The upcoming Wonder Woman film tells her origin story. But first, check out The Secret History of Wonder Woman to better understand her early ties to feminism.
Jade is a young girl just trying to find her place in the world. She’s a smart, confident, body-positive high schooler, but often feels misunderstood as a young black woman. What we REALLY love? Jade doesn’t have a love interest. Piecing Me Together is simply about a young girl following her dreams. Contemporary young adult feminist fiction might be our new favorite genre.
Even though it might seem like everybody in your news feed is coupling up and getting engaged, that’s not actually the case. The truth is, women are staying single longer. But cultural biases continue to suggest that marriage is the most desirable end goal. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation investigates the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of modern women in America.
You know that Gloria Steinem was considered the leader of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s. But do you know how she got there? My Life on the Road tells the inspiring, candid story of how her early years spent traveling and listening fueled her ongoing fight for equality.