While researching our upcoming book, The Feminist Bombshell, we’ve picked up a lot of feminist classics — and realized that the best books hit us at deeper levels each time we re-read them throughout our lives. Here, a few that have particularly re-ignited our feminist fires. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you:
Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards: Released in 2000 (and re-released for its tenth anniversary), this comprehensive guide to feminism past and present proved that the movement was alive and well at the turn of the millennium while inspiring thousands of new Third Wavers. Bonus: an exhaustive resource list to help you find causes, publications, and organizations to put your activism into action.
Women, Race, & Class, by Angela Y. Davis: This socialist-leaning analysis of the racism behind the women’s movement — and the classism behind both the Civil Rights and women’s movements — is as mind-blowing today as it was when it was written in 1981. Alas, even our feminist heroes, including Margaret Sanger and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leaned on racism to push their own agendas. More importantly, phenomena that Davis succinctly dissects, such as “the myth of the black rapist,” are as relevant now as they were then.
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, by Susan Faludi: This 1991 classic made the case that a media-driven assault on women’s rights was taking back the gains made by the feminist movement of the 1970s. As with Women, Race, & Class, perhaps the most infuriating thing about this book is its continuing relevance. “Feminism is dead” stories, female-centric consumerist culture, and conservative female “feminists” who want to take away women’s rights while bolstering their own media profiles are all more prevalent than ever. Sigh.
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, by Ariel Levy: This controversial 2005 book takes young women to task for, essentially, exploiting themselves to save patriarchy the trouble. For taking down a new manifestation of false “empowerment,” we salute this as a new classic.
A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf: The pioneering 1929 work had a simple but powerful message: To thrive creatively, women need space, time, and ideally a little money for their efforts. We’re still struggling to get all three!