Friday 13 April 2018

5 Books to Help You Improve Your Feminist Understanding

Books were my first love. And feminism my second. On this here blog, I do my best to combine the two, but this is perhaps the first time I’ve done a blog post on the ultimate love of my life: feminist books. These are some books that I think will help a person further their understanding of feminism, whether they be a long-time feminist or a fledgling of the movement. Either way, I hope that this proves useful, especially to those wanting a sort of introduction to feminism as a whole.

1. Of Women by Shami Chakrabati

I was given this book as a Christmas present from some family friends and I love it! Chakrabarti is the Shadow Attornee General and a second generation immigrant. In her book, she devotes each section to an issue that affects women globally, ranging from health to religion to education and all the sub-sects in between. This really helped widen my knowledge about so many different areas, and gave me an additional reading list that I am steadily working my way through. We need to always ensure that our feminism doesn’t fixate plainly on the West, and books like this ensure that we at least know a little about what’s going on elsewhere and prompts us to stay aware of the rest of the globe.

2. Everywoman by Jess Philips 

Update from future Jemima: I now have very different opinions on Jess Philips. She claims to be feminist but does not do enough to support trans people, sex workers, or women of colour. This book was influential for my feminist understanding at the time this post was published, however Jess Philips is certainly not the most intersectional person to learn about feminism from.

Jess Philips is one of my favourite MPs. She’s relatable, knows her stuff and is to the point. I first found out about her on The Guilty Feminist, where she was a guest before the I read this book in a day last summer and I think it’s great. Philips talks candidly about the life of a woman MP and her previous work in a women’s refuge in her constituency in a way that is clear and succinct and easy to understand. 

3. Introducing Feminism

I love the little Introducing Graphic Guide series. I have read three now, all related to my A Level work, and they help give a more basic understanding of a topic. This is definitely the case for the Feminism edition. I have so many more books to read after reading this. Head here first. This gives a great outline of the history of feminism (in the West at least) and will mean that you know what’s going on when you hear people talking about radical feminism, suffrage, Mary Wollestonecraft and bell hooks.

4. And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was, and remains to be, an absolute icon. She’s someone I really wish I could have met, but alas that will never be the case. Her poetry is special. It’s touching and raw and beautiful. I would really recommend listening to her poetry – you can find recordings of her reciting it on YouTube. And Still I Rise is a masterpiece - Angelou’s poems make me cry with a mingling of hope and despair and gratefulness. She really was a phenomenal woman.

5. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

If someone ever asks you for proof of why we need feminism (if it wasn’t obvious enough already), then just shove this book under their nose and that should do the trick. I wish that I had read this sooner, as I feel it would have had a bigger impact on me if I didn’t already know the worst. Bates gives up clear statistics and explanation on a variety of topics, primarily focusing on sexual assault and harassment. She has had another book out recently and I can’t wait to read it (just once I get further down my ever-extending TBR pile!).

If you liked this post you might like: Why We Need to Stop Making Women-Only Reboots

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