feminist books

This is the majority of the books I am taking away with me this term. I have a few more academic ones that didn't make the photographic cut, mostly because they're mightily unaesthetic.
Some of these I'll get time to read, others are for reference, and some are for decoration. Not in a vain, Thatcher Wine kind of way, but as books that I love and that comfort me by sitting on my shelf. 

This year, me and some ace friends are setting up Oxford's inaugural (?) feminist society, and as part of it, we are having a termly book club, which I'm really very excited for. The list of books is insane, and has got me exploring empowering texts about the female* experience and how we can strive for further equality. 
Many of these are on my to-read, and I am hoping to treat them almost academically. Taking notes folding pages, photographing passages, you know. 
So here goes!

The Guilty-Feminist, Deborah Francis White 
This podcast, along with my friend Ellen, offered my initial entry into feminism. I adore its humour and candidness, but no doubt you've all heard it before. I did, undeniably, exclaim some annoyance whilst reading it on the beach, I ultimately found her collection informative and inspiring.  Its very much a guide on how to be a 21st century feminist, which I found slightly noughties self-help (a dated 'you can be the best in the boardroom just by saying yes!' account), and sometimes she over qualifies and justifies her opinions with 'this isn't all women', 'this isn't all men' etc. Important, but when done repeatedly can dilute the essence of an argument. I was also not entirely sold on the dominant, gregarious, borderline-rude personas encouraged (i.e. don't apologise, say no with no justification) but its simplistic and relatable approach is amazing. It makes everyone feel included, and reassures that there is no right way. V useful when you're trying to navigate intersectionality and representation, and doing it with upmost respect.

Vagina, Naomi Wolf
Now this book I am excited for. Mostly because of its abrupt, unapologetic title. Man, I can't wait to read it on the bus. Naomi Wolf is a celebrated 3rd-wave feminist, rising to prominence after her 'The Beauty Myth' was published in 1991. This radical book explores female sexuality and the female anatomy, through considerations of the vagina and its connections to the consciousness. Its inspired by personal experience and medical difficulties, encouraging Wolf to find answers. It has been suggested that this work is very cis-focussed, and perhaps reinforces biological gender determinism, which I can certainly appreciate from the blurb. I shall be interested to read it both in relation to my cis-gendered position, and how it considers or neglects the trans experience. 

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
A seminal and ground-breaking feminist text, bought by my best friend for my birthday. He addressed the first page: to the most brilliant and sophisticated feminist I know, a monumental scholarly work ready to be analysed and deconstructed. Can't wait to hear how 'controversial' and 'challenging' you'll find this book. So really, I have to read it. 
De Beauvoir, and this book, were considered the trigger of 2nd wave feminism, recognising women's cultural and political inequalities as being inextricably linked. It attempts to confront historical female oppression, and originates the subordinate position in the perception of female as 'other'. A lot has changed in feminist thought and gender conception since this was published, so I'm intrigued to see the contemporary ideas; those that have lasted, influenced, and those that have dated. Its also fuckin' massive and intimidating, so I will no doubt be assigning myself short segments to digest as I choose. 

Argonauts, Maggie Nelson
This is a genre-rejecting work recommended by the most literary person I know. It sounds unusual and captivating, exploring gender, sexuality, marriage and family through a combination of Nelson's personal experience and epochal theory. To me, this seems one of those books that you can neither explain nor appreciate without having read it, but knowing my friend's other suggestions, it'll be both poetic and provoking. I can't wait. 

We should all be feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Admittedly, I didn't find this ground breaking, and it told me little I didn't already believe or know. But it is 20 minutes of concise and cogent explanation of the role and importance of feminism in the modern world. Perfect for new comers or those who, like me, still feel woefully uneducated.
'I know a woman who has the same degree and same job as her husband. When they get back from work, she does most of the house-work...but what struck me was that whenever he changed the baby's nappy, she said thank you to him'. I see this e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, why do we almost apologetically thank men for doing what needs to be done. 

Really, I am quite ignorant. I wish I knew what I was talking about; I'm trying to find my way in this overwhelming world, often feeling a bit behind and a bit lost. I'm too scared to voice my opinions in case they'll be wrong, upset someone, or neglect representation. But gradually I am trying to forge confidence. I also want to make my reading more diverse, from a wider range of authors of varying backgrounds. Something I've become really aware of recently is how white my bookshelves are. So any recommendations of any literature by bme authors, please send them my way!


  1. There are some really interesting reads here! I really enjoyed Beauvoir's second sex and would recommend her memoir 'memoirs of a dutiful daughter' B X www.babblesnbooks.wordpress.com

  2. I'll defo be checking out some of these Katie. In need of a new book to read and craving something with a bit of substance to it. Hope youre good and uni is going ok! Cant wait to hear all about how your feminist society goes! lots of love xx


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