I try to set aside some time every week or so to lounge outside (thank you California weather!) and get through my stack of “to read” books. But I don’t always get to them while I’m home, so I’ve been carrying some of them with me to my sister’s graduation, camping, and overseas. Here are four feminist-focused pieces I’ve been loving lately and can’t wait for you to get your hands on!
I Am an Emotional Creature | This is a book my Mom’s friend gave to me! It explores the world of teenage girls around the world from a deeply visceral place that dives into girls’ dreams, hopes, realities, and true selves. The description makes it sound cheesy – but it pulls at my heart in a way that’s hard to frame. It’s easy to relate to the monologues, which jump around exploring memories, wishes, loss, rage, confusion, and ultimately a desire to be free while being constrained by the world and viewed as too old to be a child, but too young to be an adult.
“What do you have to cut off in yourself in order to please others? I think the act of pleasing [others] makes everything murky. We lose track of ourselves. We stop uttering declaratory sentences. We stop directing our lives. We wait to be rescued. We forget what we know. We make everything okay rather than real.”
Make Trouble | Cecile Richards. Feminist icon. This is her life story as an activist and President of Planned Parenthood, and continues to inspire me to fight for reproductive rights with every page. Can you imagine being a champion for the healthcare and human rights of 4.9 million people per year?! It’s something I can only dream of getting to do. I’ve admittedly only gotten through a third of the book (I’m regretting not taking it with me to Cambodia and Bali) but even four chapters in you can feel her determination, spirit, and the courage. Her call for women to lead the resistance is clear – and I can’t wait to start employing her advice 🙂
Side story: I was given this book while canvassing in San Francisco for NARAL Pro-Choice against Fake Women’s Health Clinics in the area. A lady I was speaking with on the sidewalk had gone to a Cecile Richards event the week before where she bought the book and said she already read it and didn’t know what to do with it, so she offered it to me! Only in San Francisco! It seriously made my day because I had been wanting to buy it but hadn’t had time.
“Sometimes being a troublemaker can be pretty damn awesome. After all, it was one of the great troublemakers of all time, Emma Goldman, who said, ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
Pro | One of my absolute favorite books. Ever. I have the pages highlighted, notes scribbled in the margins, and I share screenshots from some my favorite quotes on Instagram fairly often. It presents some of the most compelling arguments I’ve ever heard for supporting Pro-Choice policies and reclaiming abortion rights. Its content is particularly relevant right now, as the US is bracing for the impact of Judge Brett Kavanaugh (hopefully not) being placed on the Supreme Court, and opening up the very really possibility of abortion rights being overturned. Ugh. Anyways, one of the chapters titled, “Are Women People?” caught me pleasantly off guard, because abortion discussions tend to focus on whether a fetus is a person, but we hardly ever stop to think about how forcing motherhood upon women demeans their personhood. No matter what side of the abortion debate you place yourself on, this book is worth a read.
“In the end, abortion is an issue of fundamental human rights. To force women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will is to deprive them of the right to make basic decisions about their lives and well-being, and to give that power to the state.”
The Essential Feminist Reader | I started this book when I took a course on feminist history at Stanford University as part of their Continuing Studies program. It’s full of passages from groundbreaking feminists around the world, covering texts from 1405 to 2004. As someone who reads hundreds of feminist-focused Facebook articles regarding modern feminist activism, I love this book because it gives a glimpse back at the making of where we are now. The voices of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Simone de Beauvoir, and Betty Friedan, among others, pull you back into a world where virtuous motherhood, social purity, and forced domesticity were the norm (yuk!), and their efforts and (at the time) radical ideas on what needed to change to make equality a reality.
“To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of my life. It is to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in sisterhood with women when often we are divided, to understand power structures with the intention of challenging them.”
Happy reading and feel free to share any of your favorites below!