Women, Culture & Politics
Angela Y. Davis
In the introduction to Women, Culture & Politics, the iconic Angela Y. Davis writes, “My… work over the last two decades will have been wonderfully worthwhile if it has indeed insisted in some small measure to awaken and encourage… new activism.” This 1990 collection of essays and speeches—much like the rest of her bibliography—will awaken the activist within every reader and sustain them for years to come. As always, her words shake us from our complacency and force us to examine the way our national and personal politics impede progress. Her insights ring as true today as they did decades ago. She confronts us to reckon with the movement’s failures as a way to ensure its future. She reminds us that “the women’s movement cannot afford to repeat its mistakes of the last century or even of the last decade.”
Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is a required text for all readers. Originally published in ’84, Lorde’s collection of essays and speeches examine the ramifications of patriarchal oppression while challenging the violence of systemic issues like homophobia, classism, and racism. Lorde unapologetically asserts her identity and the way who she is—a Black lesbian mother warrior poet—impacts the way she is treated by others. What makes Sister Outsider such a life-altering read is Lorde’s anger, wisdom, and vulnerability throughout the collection. Her words aren’t fenced in, sanitized, or palatable. There’s no hesitation in the way she shares her experiences. Each sentence is truth in the purest sense of the word. If you’ve already read Sister Outsider, make sure to gift a copy of it to a friend.
Women Who Run with the Wolves
Clarissa Pinkola Estés Phd
To say that Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype is an essential read is an understatement. This widely celebrated text is a riveting meditation on the folklore, myths, and fairy tales that reveal the intuitive power that women possess. Whether it be the role of healer or divinator, Estés’ examination of the female psyche honors the Wild Woman‘s, and all women’s, need to be free. With the discernment of a seer and the wisdom of a sage, Estés’ bestseller is a liberating and life affirming feminist tome.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud
Anne Helen Petersen
There have been unruly women for as long as there have been boundaries of what constitutes acceptable “feminine” behavior, but there’s evidence that she’s on the rise–more visible and less easily dismissed. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of contemporary pop culture powerhouses, from Serena Williams to Kim Kardashian to Hillary Clinton.
On a Farther Shore
Rachel Carson was attacked by the chemical industry when she published Silent Spring in 1962. Carson documented the disastrous effects of DDT on birds, which resulted in a lack of bird song; thus, a “silent spring.” But Carson also documented the harm that other chemical pesticides were doing to the environment, and how pesticides were seeping into products that human beings used. The result was an increase in cancers. Many consider Silent Spring to be one of the single most important scientific books ever published, second only to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.
Elizabeth I was not the child her father wanted. Henry VIII had divorced his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, because she could not give him a son (he had no idea of the role that men play in sex selection). He married Anne Boleyn, expecting her to produce an heir. When Elizabeth was born, Henry was enraged. After her mother was beheaded when Elizabeth was three, she grew up in a precarious position. At one point, she was imprisoned by her sister, Mary, who had ascended to the throne when their younger brother, Edward VI, died. But Elizabeth survived prison, and upon Mary’s death became England’s greatest queen. Margaret George brings years’ worth of research into her fictionalized version of the flame-haired queen who defeated an Armada and inspired William Shakespeare.
Stung with Love
Plato called Sappho the “tenth Muse.” At one point, nine full papyrus rolls of her writing were safeguarded in the great library at Alexandria. Today, only fragments remain. One of the remaining poems — “To a Rich Vulgarian” — may sound as if it was written for someone in our current political culture, although Sappho lived 150 years after Homer, around 620 B.C.E. She was born on the Isle of Lesbos. Sappho makes perfect reading when you’re looking for a saucy comeback to someone who is patronizing you, but she is also a comfort for nights when you may be missing the one you love.
Living My Life
The U.S. government got so tired of telling Emma Goldman to “be quiet” that, in 1919, it stripped her of her naturalized citizenship and deported her back to Russia, a country she hadn’t been in since she was a child. Labor organizer, women’s rights campaigner, sexual liberation advocate, and a teacher of birth control methods, Emma Goldman was an anarchist. She was unfairly accused of being the inspiration for the assassination of William McKinley, and the government regarded her as a danger to the state. Goldman’s autobiography details not only her philosophy, but also her scandalous love life, which included her refusal to marry her live-in lover and her insistence that love did not mean ownership.
My Beloved World
he first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, Sonia Sotomayor is persistence personified. Born into an alcoholic household in the Bronx, Sotomayor learned early that she would have to rely upon herself, especially when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, and the girl learned to administer her own insulin shots. Sotomayor earned high honors at Princeton and again at Harvard Law School, and was appointed to a Federal judgeship before her fortieth birthday. In her memoir, Sotomayor candidly recounts not only her successes in school and career, but the struggles in her marriage. She also writes about family, and how she has created family not out of people who are related to her by blood, but by surrounding herself with those she loves and by whom she is loved.
Those Who Knew
On an unnamed island country ten years after the collapse of a U.S.-supported regime, Lena suspects the powerful senator she was involved with back in her student activist days is taking advantage of a young woman who’s been introducing him at rallies. When the young woman ends up dead, Lena revisits her own fraught history with the senator and the violent incident that ended their relationship.
Rad Girls Can
In Rad Girls Can, you’ll learn about a diverse group of young women who are living rad lives, whether excelling in male-dominated sports like boxing, rock climbing, or skateboarding; speaking out against injustice and discrimination; expressing themselves through dance, writing, and music; or advocating for girls around the world. Featuring both contemporary and historical figures, Rad Girls Can offers hope, inspiration, and motivation to readers of all ages and genders.
A House Full of Females
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich won the Pulitzer Prize. She also gave feminists one of their most memorable catch phrases: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Now, in an unexpected move, she has turned her attention to women who have generally been regarded as “well-behaved,” in that they have lived within a religion that strictly disciplines their bodies. A House Full of Females looks at the origins of the Mormons through examining the debates over “plural marriage” in the period 1835-1870. Her observations about fertility patterns among Mormon women are especially revelatory in an era before the advent of many modern means of contraception.
Jane Austen, the Secret Radical
Think of “Jane Austen” and what comes to mind? Period dramas featuring polite young men and decorous women engaged in the pas de deux that is courtship? Well, prepare to have that image disrupted by Oxford professor Helena Kelly, who argues that Jane Austen held radical views that she communicated in her novels.
The Little Book of Feminist Saints
Every girl should own a copy of this marvelous compendium of illustrations and biographies of 100 of matron saints. These women’s names should be known to every person, and after enjoying this book, they will be. Whether looking for a matron saint of radicals (Kanno Sugako), or a matron saint of discovery (Lise Meitner), or more, readers will find much to delight in this book that is sure to find its way into the feminist liturgy.
Can We All Be Feminists?
In challenging, incisive, and fearless essays – all of which appear here for the first time – seventeen writers from diverse backgrounds wrestle with these questions, and more. A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all.
Intersectionality might be a new concept to some, but for most, it’s an essential feminist tenet. Defined as “what happens when forms of discrimination combine, overlap, and intersect,” the term was coined by civil rights activist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Since then, the concept of intersectionality and the discourse behind it has become pivotal in centering the experiences of underrepresented women within the feminist movement.
Often spotted on Twitter feeds, t-shirts, and yes, even tote bags, intersectionality hasn’t just become a widely celebrated concept, but a buzzword. In attempts to keep the term from being misinterpreted or misused, we’ve crafted a primer of essential feminist books that best illustrate what intersectionality means.