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Books for budding feminists: Intro

After discovering lip magazine in 2011 I realised that I was quite the feminist. I always have been but I never connected my opinions with feminism or even really tried to understand what feminists believed in. That is, until now. The problem is that I know that I am a feminist and I am all for women’s rights and equality, but I really don’t know that much about the feminist movement or what feminists have gone through up until this point.

Rather than continue on in my current path of ignorance I have decided to read my way through as many feminist books as it takes for me to feel satisfied that I understand the roots of my beliefs.

After asking friends and family, checking the Internet and browsing public libraries I have come up with a reading list for myself. The goal is to emerge at the end of the list with a more holistic view of feminism and a greater understanding of feminist history and the women’s movement. Along the way I’ll be providing you with updates and the things that surprise me the most.

Currently my list includes:

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Les Belles Images by Simone de Beauvoir
Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy
Full Frontal Feminism: a young woman’s guide to why feminism matters by Jessica Valenti
Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality by Gail Dines
Living Dolls: The return of sexism by Natasha Walter
Media Tarts by Julia Baird
One dimensional woman by Nina Power
Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism by Laurie Penny
He’s a stud, she’s a slut and 49 other double standards every woman should know by Jessica Valenti

If you have any suggestions or think I have missed an essential novel please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list. Otherwise if you have read something recently that you identified with as a feminist, please don’t hesitate to share it below.

13 thoughts on “Books for budding feminists: Intro

  1. The Women’s Room – Marilyn French
    The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer
    Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation – Leora Tanenbaum

    Those are just off the top of my head, there’s so much good feminist literature out there.

  2. I belong to a feminist reading group (if you live in Adelaide, you should come along!) and here are some of the books we read last year:


    Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (argues that there is an emergence of ‘neurosexism’, by which old stereotypes are presented as ‘science’ by means of new research in neuroscience)

    The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams (finds connections between the feminist and vegetarian movements. It has some interesting ideas, though the book wasn’t executed as well as it could have been…)

    The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti (looks at America’s supposed obsession with virginity in young women)


    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (…but check out pretty much anything by Atwood. I particularly love ‘The Edible Woman’)

    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guinn (not strictly feminist, but it raises some interesting questions about gender…the protagonist visits a planet where people have no gender, and become male or female at particular times of the month)

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! (ok, bear with me – for a teen fiction novel in a world where teen fiction is flooded with heroines who would better be described as damsels-in-distress, the protagonist is actually quite a strong character, who is well able to take care of herself)

  3. Can’t go past the Germaine Greer books, Female Eunuch but also The Whole Woman.
    Definitely Fine’s book Delusions of Gender but pick up Brainstorm… by someone whose name I’ve now forgotten as well.
    If you want to inhale your morning coffee through your nose on your way to work Caitlin Moran – How to be a woman is a MUST
    The Sexual Contract by Pateman is frighteningly accurate in ways I never imagined.
    Not really feminist but if you want to better understand the entire basis on which discrimination and superiority as social ideas became apparent give Edward Said a go, although make sure you’re feeling really well rested and well fed, he can be challenging.
    Keep it Australian with some Anne Summers and some Eva Cox and don’t forget the young modern essayists and academics like Jessica Horn, who are shaking us all up with their perspectives from around the world.

    Best of all ENJOY!!! it’s loads of fun, although you might need to buy a hat that says “caution, feminist reading in progress”

    • Hi MsElouise,

      Thanks for your comment! Not sure about inhaling my coffee through my nose, but I’ll definitely add Caitlin Moran’s novel to the list! I’ll do a bit of research on your suggestions and let you know what else makes the list – just scanning through they all look amazing so I’m sure my list is about to get a lot longer…
      Love your idea about the hat – I’m sure my friends and family would get a kick out of seeing me wear it! 😛
      Thanks again for your ideas, xx

  4. Hi Sarah & Serrin,

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions – I really appreciate them!

    Sarah – I’ve added those three to the list 🙂

    Serrin – Those books sound great, all the non-fiction ones have gone straight onto my list. I LOVE your suggestions for fiction too, I hadn’t even really thought about going down that road until I saw your comment. I’ve read the Handmaids Tale and the Hunger Games trilogy – all great books, I agree. It’s great to see strong female protagonists, particularly in a set as popular as the Hunger Games. You’ve sparked my curiosity with the Ursula Le Guinn novel… that is officially onto the list! (RE: Book Club- I wish I lived in Adelaide (so many great events seem to be popping up there all the time) but am based in Melbourne. We are starting a Lip virtual book club in the coming days though so keep your eyes peeled!)

    So all up the new additions are:
    The Women’s Room – Marilyn French
    The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer
    Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation – Leora Tanenbaum
    The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula Le Guinn
    Delusions of Gender – Cordelia Fine
    The Sexual Politics of Meat – Carol Adams
    The Purity Myth – Jessica Valenti

    THANK-YOU to Serrin and Sarah for sharing their top picks 🙂 Anybody else got suggestions? x

  5. Ah Jess I’m trying to educate myself too and have a huge must-read list that includes these! Are you looking for purely non-fiction books? Some other non-fiction ones that I’ve read or that are on my list are Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (of course), Betty Friedan – the feminine mystique, Germaine Greer – the female eunuch + the whole woman, Bell Hooks – Ain’t I a Woman? Black Woman and Feminism (and her other books), Judith Butler – Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Also I just got ‘BitchFest’ which is a collection of the best articles from Bitch Magazine (fem critiques of pop culture) over the years which is awesome!

    • Hey Millie, thanks for the comment! ‘Bitchfest’ sounds amazing – where would one go to get a copy of that? All your other suggestions are fantastic! I’ll be posting up extra additions to the list tonight after I consolidate all the suggestions received so far, but these all look perfect.

      Thanks so much! xx

    • Legend! Thanks Millie 🙂 No worries at all – it only confirms to me which books are absolutely essential for the list! xx

  6. Here is a (condensed) list of some of my favourites:

    The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
    The End of Equality – Anne Summers
    Catfight: Women & Competition – Leora Tanenbaum
    The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf
    A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
    The Female Thing – Laura Kipnis
    The Great Feminist Denial – Monica Dux & Zora Simic

    Happy reading!

  7. Thanks Josephine! So many great lists!

    Here is the list of new additions:

    The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
    The End of Equality – Anne Summers
    Catfight: Women & Competition – Leora Tanenbaum
    A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
    The Female Thing – Laura Kipnis
    The Great Feminist Denial – Monica Dux & Zora Simic
    The Whole Woman – Germaine Greer
    How to be a Woman- Caitlin Moran
    The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan
    Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity – Judith Butler
    Ain’t I a Woman? Black Woman and Feminism – Bell Hooks

    Thanks everyone for being so helpful 🙂

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