Feminist Book Recommendations?

February 12, 2010

What are the books you’d recommend either a) to someone new to feminism or b) to feminists to get a broader perspective on the movement or an idea about a topic that tends to get ignored?  Here are some of mine:

Andrea Smith, Conquest: I just blogged about this one, but I’ve finished it now and would wholeheartedly recommend it as an alternative to the white feminist “canon.”  It’s also especially helpful for identifying areas where the progressive movement (especially pro-choice and environmentalist) has wronged indigenous people and women of color.

Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards, Manifesta: I like this book as an intelligent, in-depth discussion of feminist issues.  It’s not particularly good for young readers (it’s a little dense) and it doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good read for those who have the basics of feminism down and want to go a little deeper.

Inga Muscio, Cunt: There are a lot of things I disagree with in this book, but I have to admit it’s a great little read for a personal perspective on feminist issues with research thrown in, and there’s a great resource guide at the back.  Muscio has a very powerful voice, and this book is accessible where more academic texts are not.

Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti (eds.), Yes Means Yes: Not a feminist primer, per se, but so much of why feminism is necessary is wrapped up in rape culture, and this anthology is absolutely mind-blowing even for someone who has been exposed to feminist ideas.  I recommend this book to every woman I know.

Megan Seely, Fight Like a Girl: This is my favorite recommendation for young readers.  It goes through a number of issues, making it a good third-wave feminist primer, and it’s activism- rather than academic-centric.  It’s also got some great resources for teens and young women.

Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: A little more topic-centered, but this book does provide a broad overview of what Levy calls “raunch” culture.  It links patriarchy to pop culture, the purity movement, pornography, sex work, etc.  I don’t agree with everything in the book, but for the most part I like what she has to say.

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In Case You Needed More Reason to Love Johann Hari

September 22, 2009

We’re having a few hiccups getting post authorization set up, so the following post is by Val:

I can’t say that I love the vitriol apparent in his voice when describing emaciated models (who are, in fact, some of the primary victims here), but his anger seems to be directed more at the men who enforce that particular “aesthetic” than at the women themselves.  In any case, he makes some damn good points. In drawing on Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth (one of my personal favorites), he says:

Wolf points out something remarkable in the shifting tides of the fashion world. Whenever women become stronger in the real world, fashion models — our collective vision of Beauty Incarnate — become weaker and scrawnier. In the 1910s, it was considered beautiful for women to have soft, rounded hips, thighs and bellies: most women’s natural shape. In the 1920s, when women got the vote, the idea of what was beautiful shrank. Suddenly models became bonier and feeble — and women started to starve themselves. In the 1950s, when women’s rights receded, women could be curvy and eat again. With the 1960s and the rise of feminism, models became smaller and smaller — until today, when women are breaking glass ceilings, and emaciated models are the norm.

Read the entire article here.