Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Feminist Reads

Written by Susannah Wexler

It’s the middle of summer, which means that, chances are, you can read what you want, without writing an accompanying paper. Perhaps you have some hours on the beach or some days riding shotgun on a road trip. Worst case scenario, you’re working at Dairy Queen and when you come home you want to relax.
You could read some romance or mystery (nothing wrong with that). But, if during your daily activities, you hear “slut” bandied about and girls insisting they “don’t want to sound like a feminist, but . . . ,” or “just hate hanging out with females,” you might crave some accessible feminist nonfiction.

From Bell Hooks’s Feminism is for Everybody  to up-and-comers like Julie Zeilinger’s A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word , Sadie offers a summer reading list of twenty-first century literature that challenge gender assumptions.

1. Feminism is for Everybody, 2000, by Bell Hooks: In this seminal work of feminist nonfiction, Hooks urges everyone, male and female, to subscribe to feminism, a philosophy that fights the systematic oppression of women. In addition to arguing for feminism, Hooks also examines how race and social class, along with their intersection with gender, further oppress individuals in society.

2. Global Feminisms Since 1945, 2000, Edited by Bonnie G. Smith: Global Feminism Since 1945 offers feminist perspectives from across the globe—from Europe to America, the post-Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa.

3. Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, 2008, Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman: In Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti’s Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Friedman and Valenti present a compilation of essays that move audiences away from the commonly accepted “no means no” perception of rape (where consent is simply the absence of saying, “no”) to a framework where women are fully empowered to say “yes” to sexual relations they truly want to say “yes” to. In so doing, Yes Means Yes encourages women to seize control of their sexuality.

4. A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word, 2012, by Julie Zeilinger: Written by eighteen-year-old Julie Zeilinger (who founded the F Bomb in her teens), A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word , provides a funny and succinct history of feminism while arguing for its relevance.

5. Sisterhood Interrupted, 2007, by Deborah Siegel: Deborah Siegel’s Sisterhood Interrupted explores feminist infighting and the ways in which these discussions have both helped and disrupted the feminist movement. A great primer on feminist history, Sisterhood Interrupted chronicles second and third wave feminism and, in so doing, helps each wave understand the other. Like Zeilinger’s A Little F’d Up, Sisterhood Interrupted argues for contemporary feminism’s importance.

6. Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism, 2009, by Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein: In 2007, twenty-three-year-old journalist Nona Willis Aronowitz and twenty-two-year-old photographer, Emma Bee Bernstein, drove across the country interviewing young women about their hopes, ambitions, and attitudes towards feminism. Their subjects range from riot grrrl icon, Kathleen Hanna, to a bible college student. In 2009, they published their findings—profiles, photos, and diary entries—in Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism.

7. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body, 2007, by Courtney Martin: Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body argues that feminism’s unwanted legacy includes an—often unhealthy—quest for perfection. As young women, Martin argues, seek the perfect body, perfect grades, the perfect social life, and extra-curricular success, they often develop eating and anxiety disorders.

8. Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, 2010, by Jennifer L. Pozner: In this book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV , Jennifer L. Pozner deconstructs reality TV, illustrating its perpetuation of gender, race, and class stereotypes.

9. Girls’ Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom, 2009, by Jessica Hopper: Jessica Hopper Girls’ Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom, This American Life’s music consultant, Jessica Hopper, offers teen girls advice on everything rock ‘n roll—from how to play an instrument to how to book a gig. In so doing, she penetrates rock ‘n’ roll’s machismo and empowers young women.

10. Drugs are Nice:A Post-Punk Memoir, 2005, by Lisa Crystal Carver: Carver’s memoir, Drugs are Nice, recounts her role in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s post-punk movement. Through her deft writing, Carver guides readers through this scene, as well as her life as a young prostitute, wife, and mother.





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