5 Books Every Feminist Should Read
What are you waiting for?
We Should All Be Feminists (2014) – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From the bestselling author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun comes We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx Talk of the same name. The YouTube video which generated over 6 million views, details Adichie’s path into feminism, and what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century. We Should All Be Feminists is anecdotal in style, drawing on Adichie’s experiences in Nigeria and the US. Although it touches on serious topics, i.e. discrimination and the marginalization of women, it’s also funny and witty — watch the TEDx Talk and you’ll see what we mean. As well as addressing women’s issues, Adichie also refers to toxic masculinity, “Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage,” and argues that feminism can benefit both men and women, trapped by sexual politics.
F**k YEAH Moment: “My own definition is, a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”
Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies) (2018) — Scarlett Curtis
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink is a collection of essays from a diverse group of women, curated by author and activist, Scarlett Curtis. As the title would suggest, the book debunks myths and explores the personal relationships women have with feminism. Contributors include Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Beanie Feldstein, Chimwemwe Chiweza, and Alice Wroe (plus many, many more). People who have read this book have lots to say about its impact, “This book was truly motivational, and I feel like it has opened my eyes perhaps a little wider, to what feminism means to some rather amazing women,” says one review, “Everyone should read this book. Show it to your daughters, yes, but also to your husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, and everyone who should know how it is to be a woman in this day and age,” says another.
F**K YEAH Moment: “The period is undoubtedly a feminist issue. The Tampon Tax only reinforces this: given that Jaffa Cakes, bingo games and vodka jellies are deemed essential, tax-free items and menstrual products are not, women are being taxed for simply being women.”
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (2020) — Florence Given
Released in June this year, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty has already gained a massive audience (and a spot in the Sunday Times bestseller list for many weeks). Florence Given, author, and illustrator of the book, is a UK based artist and activist, previously dubbed ‘Cosmopolitan’s Influencer of the Year’ (2019). Given has over half a million followers on Instagram, where she posts illustrations of women with quote-worthy feminist slogans — “I am the love of my own life,” “life is short dump them,” and “maybe it’s a girl crush, maybe you’re queer” being just a few examples. Her book is in many ways an extension of the work she shares with her devoted followers, except with more text and arguably more sass. Described by the Evening Standard as, “Rallying, radical and pitched perfectly for her generation” it’s no surprise that book shops are dedicating window displays to this small but mighty wonder.
F**K YEAH Moment: “I was taught how to count calories, have boundaries with, and say "no" to food as a young girl before I learned about the importance of having boundaries and saying "no" to other people. What do you think that taught me about being a woman in this world?”
Bustle calls it, “The intersectional feminist anthology we all need to read,” author Jacqueline Woodson agrees, “As timely as it is well-written, this clear-eyed collection is just what I need right now.” Can We All Be Feminists? by writer and feminist campaigner June Eric Udorie, is a collection of 17 essays exploring what feminism means to women from various backgrounds. Contributing authors include award-winning Jamaican novelist, Nicole Dennis-Benn, known for her book Here Comes the Sun, and journalist Frances Ryan, known for her book Crippled, and written work on inequality, gender, and the economy. This book raises many questions about feminism, most importantly, why is intersectionality so important? and how can feminism be more inclusive? It answers a lot of them, by allowing the voices of marginalized women to be heard.
F**K YEAH Moment: “If feminism is to cease to be a movement for the few, privileged women must start listening to women who are poor, women who are undocumented, women who are queer, women who are on the margins of society, elevating those voices instead of their own. White women must also acknowledge their privilege, despite the fact that they face sexist oppression.”
Bad Feminist (2014) — Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist is a collection of sharp and witty essays by writer, professor, editor, social commentator (quite the resume holder), Roxane Gay. In this New York Times best-selling book, Gay explains what the term ‘bad feminist’ means, and why it’s a label she has given herself, “because I am flawed and human” (who also occasionally fakes an orgasm), and why she would rather be a bad feminist than not a feminist at all. Turns out ‘bad feminist’ is a term many readers relate to — “The self-given title ‘Bad Feminist’ is only necessary because today’s culture makes it so and I find that interesting. We do have to switch off our morals to enjoy popular music these days, for as long as they degrade us. We do feel some shame in being a feminist or in not being a good enough feminist” – says one review. Maybe you see yourself as a ‘bad feminist’ too? regardless, it’s a book that belongs on your shelf.
F**K YEAH Moment: “No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like s**t for being a woman.”
Preview image from Scarlett Curtis' Twitter