C.S. Lewis once wrote, “We read to know we are not alone.”

Books are not only fonts for information and knowledge, but they can convey to us the experiences of others. Experiences we, may too, identify with.  Through books we start to see that sometimes personal experiences we’ve had are part of much larger patterns in our society and culture.

Sections on feminism, women’s studies, and intersectional studies are blossoming in bookstores and libraries right now as more women are putting ink to their experiences and to studying the causes culture has played in equality issues.

 

Why Feminism Matters

If you’ve found yourself on this article, I have to believe there is at least some part of you that identifies with feminism, whether or not you call yourself a feminist.

Feminism is defined as the social, economic, and political equality of all people.  If you believe in that, then you are a feminist.

However, to be an effective advocate for yourself and others, it helps to be educated about the ways inequality and oppression have presented (and continue to present) themselves in our culture, understanding why feminism matters, and how to create lasting positive change towards a more egalitarian society.

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So today let’s talk about some books that should be on your feminist bookshelf:

 

  1. “Bad Feminist” – Roxane Gay

bad feministNew York Times Bestseller Bad Feminist is a smart collection of essays for women navigating our pop culture messages on gender and sexuality, race and entertainment, and politics, gender, and race.  Gay’s writing is honest and witty, making the book feel like a long conversation with a good friend.  She talks about how to be friends with other women, the struggle in digging a pop song or celebrity that degrades women, the careless language of sexual violence, the “morality” in Tyler Perry’s shows, and the politics of respectability for people of color, among many other issues where inequality subtly lies.

 

 

 

 

  1. “We Should All Be Feminists” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

we should all be feministsIf you heard her 2012 TEDx Talk of the same name, I don’t need to tell you to read this New York Times Bestseller book.  Her writing expertly explores what it means to be a woman and feminist today with heavy leanings on inclusion and awareness.  Adiche uses personal stories, levity, and nuance to critique today’s culture and proclaim why we should all call ourselves feminists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Purity is Hurting Young Women”- Jessica Valenti

the purity mythValenti’s insightful book about sexism explores the effect that America’s impossible standards for purity has had on young girls, and what valuing a woman’s worth on her sexuality or purity rather than her ethics has done to the self-esteem of young womenThe Purity Myth takes on sexism found in abstinence programs, purity balls, and pop culture, and invites a call to action to change the way we value women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “Slut!: Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation” – Leora Tanenbaum

slut! growing up female with a bad reputationIn Slut!, Tanenbaum tackles sexual stereotyping, and the various reasons women get labeled as sluts (hint: oftentimes it has nothing to do with sex).  Integrating her own story as well as the stories of other women, Tanenbaum speaks to the damaging power of sexual stereotyping, and how women were able to overcome their (often false) reputations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut” – Emily White

fast girlsIn a similar vein to Slut! and The Purity Myth, Fast Girls focuses in on the myth of the slut, and why, whether she’s portrayed as a villain or a victim, she fascinates us.  White takes us into the underbelly of teenage life, exploring the power of rumors, sexual double standards, and othering, serving as a microcosm of modern American society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “Men Explain Things to Me” – Rebecca Solnit

men explain things to meDon’t let the slimness of this book fool you; it really packs a punch!  Over seven essays, Solnit touches on important aspects of today’s feminist movement.  The title essay speaks to the silencing of women as an abuse of power and the practice men have to always assume they know better than a woman, no matter how qualified she is (what was later coined as “mansplaining”).  Other essays focus on gender violence, global justice, the ideological misogyny of opponents of marriage equality, the erasure of women in law and texts, the power of naming and language, the use of rape culture to “keep women in line”, the differences in how a woman’s and man’s credibility is treated, and embracing an unknown future.

 

 

 

  1. “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” – Ariel Levy

female chauvinist pigsFemale Chauvinist Pigs is an excellent book exploring how women are used, get caught up in, and sometimes perpetuate today’s highly sexualized culture.  Raunch culture is often thought to be the product of unresolved issues between the feminist movement and the sexual revolution, as well as a postfeminist permissive culture that focuses more on the male desire of unlimited females rather than on female sexual liberation, and as a backlash to anti-pornography feminists being labeled as “prude”.  Raunch culture encourages women to see objectification of women as normal and encourages women to objectify themselves and others.  Levy explores the line between sexual liberation and objectification, and how women can combat raunch culture with healthier insights of self-image and sexuality.

 

 

 

  1. “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” – Sheryl Sandberg

Lean InAuthored by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and inspired by her 2010 TEDx Talk, Lean In explores the topic of women in the workplace and how so many women unintentionally hold themselves back from success by internalized messages and limiting beliefs.  Sanders uses personal stories and hard data to share with women practical advice on how to build confidence turning those “can’ts” into “can dos”, take risks, pursue challenges, negotiate and advocate for themselves, take a seat at the table, and build a satisfying career with work/life balance.

 

 

 

 

  1. “The Beauty Myth” – Naomi Wolf

the beauty mythThe Beauty Myth analyzes the connection between the increase in power and social prominence women have with the increase in the use of mass media to socially control women through impossible beauty standards.  Wolf demonstrates how flawless beauty standards are often used against women, which leads to unhealthy behaviors and a societal preoccupation with appearance.  She points out research that shows as women have broken through glass ceilings in the last several decades, rates of eating disorders and cosmetic surgery have significantly increased, and pornography became a main media category ahead of legitimate films, and discusses the overwhelming trend of a woman’s appearance being the subject of praise or critique.  (You know what I mean, ladies.  You make a youtube video discussing how to add more green solutions to your home, and you get some jackass trolling “shut up you ugly bitch!” as if your appearance had anything to do with going green in your home.)

 

  1. “4000 Years of Uppity Women” – Vicki Leon

4000 years of uppity womenAdmittedly this is more of a coffee table book than some of the bestsellers listed above.  But nonetheless, this is a delightful book of badass women over history who were just not having it!  From Queen Aahotep in Egypt who had a sharp military mind and a knack for getting slackers into shape, to Aud the Deep-Minded, a Viking Granny who peacefully managed the Hebrides in Scotland, to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who was integral to the advocating and acceptance of inoculation to combat smallpox, Mary Read and Anne Bonney who were high seas Thelma and Louise style pirates, to Marie Laveau, a mother-and-daughter team of the same name who were either the greatest voodoo queens or the greatest grifters New Orleans has ever seen.  This book has you grinning and snickering for all the rebellious women who weren’t afraid to make history.

 

I have a feeling this will be the first of many articles on this topic.  There are so many good books on feminism out there, it was hard for me to limit the list to ten.

 

Have other suggestions for feminist books?  Comment below or on the SoulFire Tribe – Light It Up Facebook Group!  Share your knowledge and engage with other women!  I may even feature your suggestions in upcoming articles on this topic!  Share this article with a friend and continue the conversation!

Xoxo,

Get the 8 (SECRET) Skills of Successful Women!

In my FREE guide, Queen Rising, I give you the 8 SECRET skills successful women use to lead happy, balanced lives and define success on their own terms!

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Stella Autumn

Founder, Women's Empowerment Coach, + Writer/Blogger at SoulFire Tribe
* Queen * Rebel * Unicorn * Coach * Writer * Lawyer * Witch * Geek * Goth/Alt Chick * Poetess * Explorer * Artist * Hippie * Book Dragon * Ladyboss * Quirky, Curious, + Creative * // I empower women invested in personal and professional growth to discover the courage and creativity within themselves to lead happy, balanced, and successful lives defined by their own terms!

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