Feminist Books to Dismantle the Patriarchy to Read

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Feminist Books to Dismantle the Patriarchy to Read

Evolving gender roles and rising awareness of the fight against sexism has caused an increased interest in feminist books. The goal of feminist literature is to promote gender equality, challenge patriarchal influences, and expose pervasive inequities across different parts of society. For anyone looking to manage their inherited beliefs, gain a better understanding of privilege and oppression, or just read some incredible writing, here is a list of essential feminist books to help dismantle the patriarchy.

The Femme Series

The Femme Series by author and professor Christian Cotton offers an analogous exploration of gender roles within contemporary society. Published between 2009 and 2016, the four books in the series – Becoming Femme: A Guidebook, Femme Power: Activism, People, and Stories, Femme Profiles: Subversive Representations and Their Impact, and Femme Revisited: An Antfemme Manifesto – encourages readers to think about how gender affects society, what it means to live as a woman outside the homogenous ideal of femininity, and to celebrate the work of past and present femmes.

The Second Sex

Released in 1949, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir is considered one of the quintessential feminist texts. In it, de Beauvoir examines the power structures that “other” women, highlighting their lived experiences in contrast to men’s. She draws attention to the unfairness of women being confined to a subordinate role in patriarchy and explores the oppressive systems that have held that status in position. It’s an eye-opening work that’s still relevant today.

The Color Purple

First published in 1982, The Color Purple is an epistolary novel by Alice Walker that follows the story of an African-American girl from rural South Georgia named Celie. Through the vivid and painful stories of Celie and her fellow African-American companions, Walker’s novel explores trauma, sexism, and racism. Even though it faced harsh criticism by some for its perceived anti-patriarchal message, it has widely been accepted as a feminist classic that speaks to the power and work of women of color.

Sister Outsider

This groundbreaking 1984 collection of poems, essays, and presentations by Audre Lorde offers a worthy and much-needed addition to the feminist canon. Through emotional storytelling and poetics, Sister Outsider provides an intersectional approach to feminist thought and encourages readers to consider issues such as race and sexuality when they think about feminism. Her words are even still quoted today and help to showcase the importance of intersectionality in the fight against gender inequality.

Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by Roxane Gay, published in 2014. In this work, Gay examines the limitations of modern day feminism in addressing and understanding larger systemic issues of power and privilege. She encourages us to understand the complexities and nuances of gender, explores her personal experiences as a queer woman, and assesses the importance of self-awareness. Bad Feminist is a powerful read for anyone looking to examine their own biases and lack of understanding.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

In her 2017 book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, author Reni Eddo-Lodge examines contemporary racism in the UK. Through an array of topics, Eddo-Lodge explores the ways in which systemic racism prevents progress and how white people can use the privilege to create meaningful change. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to be an ally, but feel overwhelmed by where to start.

We Should all be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a short book (only 51 pages) and is based off of a TEDx talk Adiche gave in 2012. Her work uses both personal and socio-political history to discuss the importance of feminism in contemporary society and how it affects the lives of individuals. As one of the defining feminist books of the 21st century, We Should All Be Feminists is an important read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of feminist values.

Unbought and Unbossed

Unbought and Unbossed: Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition is a collection of speeches, interviews, and essays by Shirley Chisholm, one of the first black women in the United States Congress, published in 2020. The book provides an enlightening look into the struggles that Chisholm faced during her political career, such as the discrimination she faced as both a black and a woman, as well as her other bold political stands. Despite her oftentimes-quirky style, she was an important player in the feminist and civil rights movements, making Unbought and Unbossed a powerful testament to the tenacity of womanhood.

Women Who Run with the Wolves

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés was first released in 1992, and is a book about the power of the untamed female spirit — a Wild Woman archetype. This book is a testament for women to reclaim their innate power to stand up for their own truth, fight with courage, and embrace their uniqueness. It’s a moving read for any woman feeling the tug of life’s wildness and seeking to understand why.

Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is also an important work in the feminist canon. Sandberg offers insightful advice on how to negotiate, break down barriers, and battle bias in the workplace. For women looking to take practical steps to make changes in the workplace, this is an essential guide.

There is no one right answer when it comes to tackling the patriarchy, and each of these feminist books offer unique lenses and invaluable insights to the conversation. From living as an unbridled woman to understanding the power of white privilege, these feminist books provide readers with the tools to dismantle oppressive systems and to make positive changes in their own lives and in the lives of others.

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