“Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It’s no secret that women are some of the greatest persisters in history. Feminism has been the key to so many fights women throughout history have had to endure. While we may not all be like Gloria Steinem, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Beyonce – we still have a small role when it comes to equality. One of the best ways to be a better feminist is to keep reading. Whether it’s academic theories, or fun laugh-out-loud observations, continuing the fight often means continuing to learn.
Here are 9 books every feminist should read:
Maya Angelou’s words have historically been the blood pumped into the feminist heartbeat. Classic poems like ‘Still I Rise’ and ‘Phenomenal Woman’ have spoken to a generation of women who have persisted, and will continue to persist against all odds thrown at them. If you need to ready anything before you die, it’s a Maya Angelou poem.
2. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
In this short book, Solnit writes essays about the role men play when it comes to explaining things to women, despite the fact that the women didn’t to have anything explained to them in the first place. Hence the term ‘mansplaining’ was born. It’s a short book packed in with smart observations that will either make think more critically about the situation, or trigger your annoyance. Still worth the read.
3. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist assures us that it’s ok to have those moments where you may not be all that ‘feminist’ – whether it’s jammin’ to rap music with misogynistic lyrics that will make you cringe or openly judge the colourful women on reality tv. In Gay’s collection of essays, she examines the role of feminism in our culture from past to present that will make you think and laugh out loud.
4. A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
From prominent artists to royalty – Jenni Murray accounts some of the most influential women in British history. Some of them are figures you’ve probably already read extensively in your history lessons, while others are lesser known. That being said, this book honours the women who shaped so much of British history, as well as women around the world.
5. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
After you read this book, you’ll feel like one of those academic feminists who always has something intelligent to say. This was one of the first of it’s kind and arguably the first ever modern publication about feminism. Simone de Beauvoir explores the role oppression of women in history, as well as their future. de Beauvoir is a key player in the history of women’s rights – and should be celebrated by all women.
6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Atwood’s classic tale of a utopian society explores the potentially reality of an oppressive society, in which women are only deemed child bearers. It’s been a classic book for many years, that is now ringing a sense of realism in our society today. The book has been adapted into an award winning tv show with Mad Men star, Elisabeth Moss and Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel. The Handmaid’s tale is hauntingly beautiful and should be read by anyone who identifies as a feminist.
7. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie should be the name on every feminist’s lips. If you haven’t heard of her, you probably heard her voice in our saviour Beyonce’s ‘Bow Down Bitches.’ Adichie is a classic writer who takes ideals of feminism and provides an intelligent interpretation. In her essay, Adiche brings forth a modern interpretation of intersectional feminism and awareness that is easy to digest, and with a dash of humour. Adichie is a smart writer and someone who deserves more attention than she gets now.
8. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
In Janet Mock’s personal journey, she talks about not only the physical changes of transitioning, but the spiritual journey she endured into becoming the woman she was born to be. Mock’s personal journey is one that is vital for the ongoing feminist movement in exploring what it truly means to be a woman, and how we as allies can join together in the fight for intersectional feminism. Mock’s personal story is both enriching and heartbreaking, and is worth a read for anyone wanting to learn more about the transgender community.
9. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petterson
In a collection of essays, Peterson explores the rise of female celebrities who are often ‘too much’ for society’s standards. In her witty and thought-provoking words, Petterson unmasks the internal misogyny that is still present in many of us when it comes to accepting the women who stick their middle fingers up to society’s standard. The book is a celebration for all women, no matter how big or little they are.