Forget Naomi Wolf and her vagina, here are some of the best books to start building your cuntini-free feminist library:
Published back in 2007, Full Frontal Feminism is Jessica Valenti’s attempt to change the way young women define and relate to feminism. It sets out to persuade the reader that feminism is, indeed, “cool”, necessary and relevant. This perspective might seem somewhat old-hat in our post-Moran world, but Valenti pushed simple and compelling arguments like this into the mainstream:
“Do you think that it’s fair that a guy will make more money doing the same job as you? Does it piss you off and scare you when you find out about your friend getting raped? Do you ever feel like shit about your body? Do you ever feel like something is wrong with you because you don’t fit into this bizarre ideal of what girls are supposed to be like?
Well, my friend, I hate to break it to you, but you’re a hardcore feminist. I swear.”
Natasha Walter walked through a toy store and realised that something had gone wrong. Femininity had been hijacked, along with the language of feminism, in order to create a generation of living dolls. Whilst many of the remnants of “old-sexism” had been brushed aside, something new, complex and dangerous had taken their place. This straight up and powerful book shatters the myths society has built around femininity. It will also change the way you shop for kid’s birthday presents:
“It often seems now that the dolls are escaping from the toy shop and taking over girls’ lives. Not only are little girls expected to play with dolls, they are expected to model themselves on their favourite playthings.”
Feel like you’ve lost some of your feminist fire? Let me point you in the direction of the Equality Illusion. As the title suggests, Banyard refuses to accept that our society has even come close to achieving gender equality. She reels off stats and collects personal stories that show how far we still need to go. It isn’t an easy read but it is serves as an excellent reminder of why feminism matters and why we need to keep on fighting:
“ The equality that so many people see existing between women and men is an illusion. Proclamations that we are ‘there’ now, that equality has been achieved, have chased feminism from the mainstream. It is time to find the way back – to recognise feminism for what it is: one of the most vital social justice movements of our age.”
Fed up with feminism being constantly dismissed as “irrelevant” and “extinct”, Redfern and Aune set out to force feminism back into public consciousness. This book outlines the flourishing New Feminist Movement, its priorities and motivations. The authors surveyed UK feminists to build a picture of 21st century feminism in the UK. Their research established seven priorities, from sexual freedom to a popular culture free from sexism. This is a book that will make you proud to be a feminist:
“We hope to prove that there is a large group of feminists reclaiming the ‘f word’ from those who trash it. No, it isn’t as media-friendly as generations of feminists fighting like cats in a bag, It’s optimistic, rolling-your-sleeves-up-and-getting-things-done feminism.”
Whilst most of the books in the list are “calls for action”, this Graphic Guide to feminism is more of a theoretical introduction to the movement. It provides a detailed history – starting with the origins of patriarchy in ancient societies and progressing to the present day.
The graphic novel format introduces key figures and ideas and breaks down complex arguments. It is an ideal way to find your feet in feminism and discover inspiring figures from the past, like Abigail who was active during the 18th century:
“In addition to demanding equal representation for women within the law, Adams also warned against depriving women of access to education and social equality. ‘If you complain of neglect of education in sons, what shall I say with regard to daughters? I most sincerely wish...that our new Constitution may be distinguished for encouraging learning and virtue’”