Intersectional Feminist Nonfiction for Your Reading List

A really great request popped up in my Facebook feed last week from author Jessica Spotswood: she wanted recommendations for intersectional feminist nonfiction for a holiday wish list. The responses to her request were excellent, and I asked permission to round them up into a post to share here with anyone else looking for some great reading. The titles span old and new, on a variety of topics and interests to feminists, both budding and seasoned.

intersectional-feminist-nonfiction

 

If you have more titles you add to this list, please drop ’em in the comments. It’ll be nice to have a big, thick list of solid intersectional feminist reads.

Please note: I’ve pulled the recommended titles, so some of these may be less about/feature less intersectionality than others. Rather, they may be more on the “foundational texts” side of feminist nonfiction which is why they’ve been included.

anything-we-love-can-be-saved-by-alice-walkerAnything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker

‘The passion of lyricism that Alice Walker put to such good use in her novel The Color Purple is here in this collection of essays’ Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday In a world where cynicism and political apathy is commonplace, it is refreshing and inspiring to read the words of Alice Walker. For she believes that the things we treasure, and the world we live in, can all be saved if only we will act. Beginning with an autobiographical essay about the roots of her own activism, Alice Walker then goes on to explore diverse public issues such as single parenthood, freedom of the press, civil rights and religion.

the-argonauts-by-maggie-nelsonThe Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of “autotheory” offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.

Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.

fem-bad-feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

this-bridge-called-my-backThis Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Originally released in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back is a testimony to women of color feminism as it emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art, the collection explores, as coeditor Cherríe Moraga writes, “the complex confluence of identities—race, class, gender, and sexuality—systemic to women of color oppression and liberation.”

Reissued here, nearly thirty-five years after its inception, the fourth edition contains an extensive new introduction by Moraga, along with a previously unpublished statement by Gloria Anzaldúa. The new edition also includes visual artists whose work was produced during the same period as Bridge, including Betye Saar, Ana Mendieta, and Yolanda López, as well as current contributor biographies. Bridge continues to reflect an evolving definition of feminism, one that can effectively adapt to, and help inform an understanding of the changing economic and social conditions of women of color in the United States and throughout the world.

come-as-you-are-by-dr-emily-nagoskiCome As You Are by Emily Nagoski

An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.

Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never exist—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all.

The first lesson in this essential, transformative book by Dr. Emily Nagoski is that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint, and that women vary more than men in our anatomy, our sexual response mechanisms, and the way our bodies respond to the sexual world. So we never need to judge ourselves based on others’ experiences. Because women vary, and that’s normal.

Second lesson: sex happens in a context. And all the complications of everyday life influence the context surrounding a woman’s arousal, desire, and orgasm.

Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible.

delusions-of-gender-by-cordelia-fineDelusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children–boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks–we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it, and everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math, men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy, and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different–a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor–all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.

everyday-sexism-by-laura-batesEveryday Sexism by Laura Bates

In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being leered at and wolf-whistled on the street, to aggravation in the work place and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had been normalised. Bates decided it was time for change.

This bold, jaunty and ultimately intelligent book is the first to give a collective online voice to the protest against sexism. This game changing book is a juggernaut of stories, often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant – it is a must read for every inquisitive, no-nonsense modern woman.

the-feminine-mystique-by-betty-friedanThe Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins.

feminism-is-for-everybody-by-bell-hooksFeminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks

What is feminism? In this short, accessible primer, bell hooks explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. With her characteristic clarity and directness, hooks encourages readers to see how feminism can touch and change their lives—to see that feminism is for everybody.

 

feminism-unmodified-discourses-on-life-and-law-by-catharine-mackinnoFeminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law by Catharine MacKinnon

Catharine A. MacKinnon, noted feminist and legal scholar, explores and develops her original theories and practical proposals on sexual politics and law. These discourses, originally delivered as speeches, have been brilliantly woven into a book that retains all the spontaneity and accessibility of a live presentation. MacKinnon offers a unique retrospective on the law of sexual harassment, which she designed and has worked for a decade to establish, and a prospectus on the law of pornography, which she proposes to change in the next ten years. Authentic in voice, sweeping in scope, startling in clarity, urgent, never compromised and often visionary, these discourses advance a new theory of sex inequality and imagine new possibilities for social change.

Through these engaged works on issues such as rape, abortion, athletics, sexual harassment, and pornography, MacKinnon seeks feminism on its own terms, unconstrained by the limits of prior traditions. She argues that viewing gender as a matter of sameness and difference–as virtually all existing theory and law have done–covers up the reality of gender, which is a system of social hierarchy, an imposed inequality of power. She reveals a political system of male dominance and female subordination that sexualizes power for men and powerlessness for women. She analyzes the failure of organized feminism, particularly legal feminism, to alter this condition, exposing the way male supremacy gives women a survival stake in the system that destroys them.

the-feminist-memoir-project-edited-by-ann-barr-snitowThe Feminist Memoir Project edited by Ann Barr Snitow

The women of The Feminist Memoir Project give voice to the spirit, the drive, and the claims of the Women’s Liberation Movement they helped shape, beginning in the late 1960s. These thirty-two writers were among the thousands to jump-start feminism in the late twentieth century. Here, in pieces that are passionate, personal, critical, and witty, they describe what it felt like to make history, to live through and contribute to the massive social movement that transformed the nation.

What made these particular women rebel? And what experiences, ideas, feelings, and beliefs shaped their activism? How did they maintain the will and energy to keep such a struggle going for so long, and continuing still?

Memoirs and responses by Kate Millett, Vivian Gornick, Michele Wallace, Alix Kates Shulman, Joan Nestle, Jo Freeman, Yvonne Rainer, Barbara Smith, Ellen Willis, Eve Ensler, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Roxanne Dunbar, Naomi Weisstein, Alice Wolfson and many more embody the excitement that fueled the movement and the conflicts that threatened it from within. Their stories trace the ways the world has changed.

full-frontal-feminismFull Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

Feminism isn’t dead. It just isn’t very cool anymore. Enter Full Frontal Feminism, a book that embodies the forward-looking messages that author Jessica Valenti propagated as founder of the popular website, Feministing.com.

This revised edition includes a new foreword by Valenti, reflecting upon what’s happened in the five years since Full Frontal Feminism was originally published. With new openers from Valenti in every chapter, the book covers a range of topics, including pop culture, health, reproductive rights, violence, education, relationships, and more.

 

geek-feminist-revolution-by-kameron-hurleyGeek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and science fiction and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley.

The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2014 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume.

gender-trouble-by-judith-butlerGender Trouble by Judith Butler

Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as “performativity theory,” as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive gender practices, and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of Gender Trouble was “not to prescribe a new gendered way of life […] but to open up the field of possibility for gender […]” Widely taught, and widely debated, Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critique of heteronormativity and of the function of gender in the modern world.

how-to-be-a-woman-by-caitlin-moranHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How to Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

how-to-suppress-womens-writing-by-joanna-russHow to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ

By the author of The Female Man, a provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write.

“She didn’t write it. She wrote it but she shouldn’t have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she’s an anomaly. She wrote it BUT…” How to Suppress Women’s Writing is a meticulously researched and humorously written “guidebook” to the many ways women and other “minorities” have been barred from producing written art. In chapters entitled “Prohibitions,” “Bad Faith,” “Denial of Agency,” Pollution of Agency,” “The Double Standard of Content,” “False Categorization,” “Isolation,” “Anomalousness,” “Lack of Models,” Responses,” and “Aesthetics” Joanna Russ names, defines, and illustrates those barriers to art-making we may have felt but which tend to remain unnamed and thus insolvable.

i-love-myself-when-i-am-laughing-and-again-when-i-am-looking-mean-and-impressive-by-zora-neale-hurstonI Love Myself When I Am Laughing, and Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive by Zora Neale Hurston

The most prolific African-American woman author from 1920 to 1950, Hurston was praised for her writing and condemned for her independence, arrogance, and audaciousness. This unique anthology, with fourteen superb examples of her fiction, journalism, folklore, and autobiography, rightfully establishes her as the intellectual and spiritual leader of the next generation of black writers. The original commentary by Alice Walker and Mary Helen Washington, two African-American writers in the forefront of the Hurston revival, provide illuminating insights into Hurston—the writer, and the person—as well as into American social and cultural history.

men-explain-things-to-me-by-rebecca-solnitMen Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.

my-life-on-the-road-by-gloria-steinemMy Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.

(Note: Steinem isn’t very good when it comes to body politics and it shows through here — a few cringe-worthy fat comments undermine some of what she hopes to be saying).

negroland-by-margo-jeffersonNegroland by Margo Jefferson

At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac—here is a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author’s rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned with distancing itself from whites and the black generality while tirelessly measuring itself against both.

Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation’s oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.”

Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heart-wrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance.

pastrix-by-nadia-bolz-weberPastrix by Nadia Bolz Weber

Foul-mouthed and heavily tattooed, former standup comic-turned-Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber weaves hilarious rants and stunning theological insight into her personal narrative of a flawed, beautiful, and unlikely life of faith.

Bizarre, rich, and remarkable, PASTRIX turns spiritual memoir on its ear in a sardonically irreverent and beautifully honest page-turner that readers will never forget. Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the term pastrix (a negative term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize women as pastors) in this wildly entertaining and deeply resonant memoir about an outrageous, unlikely life of faith. From a commune of haggard-but-hopeful slackers to the wobbly chairs and war stories of Alcoholic Anonymous, from a funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club to an unexpected revelation during the Haitian stations of the cross, PASTRIX is a journey of cranky spirituality that intersects religion with real life, weaving incredible narrative, hilarious rants, and poignant honesty to portray a life deeply flawed and deeply faithful-giving hope to the rest of us.

the-second-sex-by-simone-de-beauvoirThe Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains pertinent today.

secret-history-of-wonder-woman-by-jill-leporeThe Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Wonder Woman, created in 1941, is the most popular female superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no superhero has lasted as long or commanded so vast and wildly passionate a following. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she has also has a secret history.

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

didion-didion-slouching-towards-bethlehem-coverSlouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

shrill-by-lindy-westShrill by Lindy West

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss–and walk away laughing. Shrillprovocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

stiffed-by-susan-faludiStiffed by Susan Faludi

Now in Stiffed, the author turns her attention to the masculinity crisis plaguing our culture at the end of the ’90s, an era of massive layoffs, “Angry White Male” politics, and Million Man marches. As much as the culture wants to proclaim that men are made miserable—or brutal or violent or irresponsible—by their inner nature and their hormones, Faludi finds that even in the world they supposedly own and run, men are at the mercy of cultural forces that disfigure their lives and destroy their chance at happiness. As traditional masculinity continues to collapse, the once-valued male attributes of craft, loyalty, and social utility are no longer honored, much less rewarded.

Faludi’s journey through the modern masculine landscape takes her into the lives of individual men whose accounts reveal the heart of the male dilemma. Stiffed brings us into the world of industrial workers, sports fans, combat veterans, evangelical husbands, militiamen, astronauts, and troubled “bad” boys—whose sense that they’ve lost their skills, jobs, civic roles, wives, teams, and a secure future is only one symptom of a larger and historic betrayal.

(Note: the description makes me believe that the book is STILL relevant today in our political climate)

trainwreckTrainwreck by Sady Doyle

She’s everywhere once you start looking for her: the trainwreck.

She’s Britney Spears shaving her head, Whitney Houston saying, “crack is whack,” and Amy Winehouse, dying in front of millions. But the trainwreck is also as old (and as meaningful) as feminism itself.

From Mary Wollstonecraft—who, for decades after her death, was more famous for her illegitimate child and suicide attempts than for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—to Charlotte Brontë, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and even Hillary Clinton, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck dissects a centuries-old phenomenon and asks what it means now, in a time when we have unprecedented access to celebrities and civilians alike, and when women are pushing harder than ever against the boundaries of what it means to “behave.”

Where did these women come from? What are their crimes? And what does it mean for the rest of us? For an age when any form of self-expression can be the one that ends you, Sady Doyle’s book is as fierce and intelligent as it is funny and compassionate—an essential, timely, feminist anatomy of the female trainwreck.

we-should-all-be-feminists-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichieWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

we-were-feminists-once-by-andi-zeislerWe Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler

Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, “feminist” has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyoncé. It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what’s long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.

But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism’s splashy arrival at the center of today’s media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn’t offered solutions to the movement’s unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent—or less—of the man’s dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on- and offline, are utterly routine.

Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years’ experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, We Were Feminists Onceis the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism’s real purpose and power.

you-cant-touch-my-hair-by-phoebe-robinsonYou Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, “2 Dope Queens,” to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, “You Can’t Touch My Hair” examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

you-dont-have-to-like-me-by-alida-nugentYou Don’t Have To Like Me by Alida Nugent

Alida Nugent’s first book, Don’t Worry It Gets Worse, received terrific reviews, and her self-deprecating “everygirl” approach continues to win the Internet-savvy writer and blogger new fans. Now, she takes on one of today’s hottest cultural topics: feminism.

Nugent is a proud feminist—and she’s not afraid to say it. From the “scarlet F” thrust upon you if you declare yourself a feminist at a party to how to handle judgmental store clerks when you buy Plan B, You Don’t Have to Like Me skewers a range of cultural issues, and confirms Nugent as a star on the rise.

 

 

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