Feminist Reading Recommendations

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what kinds of books or blogs I would recommend to people who are interested in feminism and want to learn more about it.  Since I’ve had to answer this a couple of times, it’s given me the chance to think about what I would recommend.  At first, I just kind of walked to my bookcase and stared at it (my bookcase is organized into “international politics”, “international development”, “women’s health and rights”, “women in politics” and “women in the workplace”).  But then I thought a little more, narrowed it down, and came up with this list.

BOOKS

1. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Why: Because it’s a classic.  This book kick-started the modern feminist movement, and it’s hard to know where you’re going until you know where you come from, especially with evolving social ideologies like feminism.  Understanding feminism’s roots also contextualizes critiques of feminism and can be valuable in understanding the construction of the movement.

2. Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

Why: It’s an accessible introduction to popular feminist theory, that begins to introduce the ideas of one of the most well-known intersectional feminist thinkers.  hooks critically approaches a range of issues faced by feminists today, including well-known ones like reproductive rights and work opportunities, to under-discussed ones related to the intersections of race, class and gender.

3. Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

Why: Full Frontal Feminism gives an introduction to feminism in a way that is applicable and accessible to young people today.  It focuses on issues that are a reminder as to why feminism is still relevant, at a time when people are trying to claim that feminism is dead.  In addition, Valenti is a popular voice in modern mainstream feminism, and worth getting familiar with.

If you’re interested in sexual/reproductive rights…

4. The Means of Reproduction by Michelle Goldberg

Why: Goldberg does a phenomenal job of covering the issue of reproductive rights, from the birth control movement to the issue of abortion to the subject of female genital mutilation.  She does so in an incredibly fact-based, journalistic way, and approaches the issues from various angles to provide a good historical background to contextualize modern debates on the issues.

If you’re interested in pop culture…

5. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Why: first, I’m biased, because this is the book that drew me into feminism.  Second, it’s well-written, and addresses issues related to the production of femininity and female sexuality that are incredible relevant today.  She does so both from a journalistic perspective as well as a parent’s perspective, making the book more relatable and an enjoyable read.

6. Gaga Feminism by J. Jack Halberstam

Why: this book provides a way to analyze different pieces of pop culture through a feminist lens.  It also incorporates an analysis of gender identity and queer identities within the context of pop culture.  The examples it uses are relevant and well-explained as well.

BLOGS

1. Finally, a Feminism 101

Why: this blog is DESIGNED to be an access point for people who are not as familiar with feminism.  Its goal is to dispel myths and provide an introduction to feminist ideas and the feminist movement.  If you’re just getting into feminism, it can be a really good starting point before you get sucked into some of the other blogs.

2. Feministing

Why: This blog is also meant to make feminism accessible, and explains things in common-sense ways while discussing modern issues that are fairly well covered.

If you’re interested in feminism from an international perspective:

3. Gender Across Borders

Why: Women’s issues transcend geopolitical borders.  Understanding the ways in which feminism has been globalized and the ways in which women’s issues differ around the world can be useful.  It is worth recognizing, however, that the blog is written from a predominantly western feminist perspective, so don’t take it as a window into, say, Arab feminism.  It is, however, a good introduction to women’s issues outside the US.

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~ by Randi Saunders on April 22, 2013.

2 Responses to “Feminist Reading Recommendations”

  1. Great post! Just a note: Gender Across Borders closed up shop a while back, but of course they still have their archives! Thanks!
    -Liza Wolff-Francis

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