7 Books By Feminist Icons You Need To Read

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It’s important to take the time to read about motivational women. Reading about empowering women can empower you to become an empowered woman as well.

And who better to write about empowering women than those women themselves? These books are a great place to start if you want to learn more about women who have shaped the feminist discourse over the past few centuries.

Here are some excellent reads from unforgettable feminist icons that will inspire you to be your best feminist self.

7 Books By Feminist Icons That Are Must-Read

Bad Feminist: Essays

By Roxanne Gay

Gay offers up a powerhouse of culturally relevant essays, ranging from politics to womanhood and blackness. The title comes from her refreshing take that we can’t be a perfect feminist. If we hold ourselves to an unachievable standard, we will always fall short and ultimately give up. She calls herself a “Bad Feminist;” she isn’t perfect, and she recognizes that, but the beauty lies in the fact that she tries every day to be her best self.

Her writing style is witty, intelligent, poignant, and insightful. She has a clear understanding of herself and the culture that shapes her. It’s a call to all of us to try every day to be the best feminist we can be. 

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

By Mary Wollstonecraft

If you’re looking to read the perspective of one of the original feminist philosophers, Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women is an excellent place to start. Wollstonecraft is the mother of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein who created the science fiction genre at age 19.

Wollstonecraft spends the book tackling the patriarchal norms and standards of the 1700s. Her thesis always returns to a passionate endorsement of female education. She believes it is essential for women to break free from the oppression of their lesser status caused by society’s perception of their gender.

She was one of the first people that wrote a book on gender equity that garnered significant attention. It’s an important cornerstone text that shaped feminist discourse in the following centuries.

The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It Will Piss You Off! : Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion

By Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is one of the most recognizable figures of the American feminist movement. Her work as a journalist and creator of Ms. Magazine gave the public access to her insight through her witty writing style.

Her book emphasizes inspiration and guidance through the troubling world ruled by the patriarchy. Her goal is to empower women as individuals, but more importantly, to empower each other as friends and allies.

She covers a variety of topics, from the patriarchy, to love, and activism. She believes quotes are “the poetry of everyday life” and includes ones from her close friends, including bell hooks and Michelle Obama.

If you finish the book laughing and ready to take on the patriarchy with friends by your side, Steinem has done her job. 

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose

By Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey is well-known for her inspirational story of triumph in the face of adversity during her rise to fame. This book explores her belief that everyone everywhere has a purpose. She wants you to find that purpose as quickly as possible so you can start your calling.

She offers advice on how to find the “deepest version of yourself” and outlines her framework for building a life of success and significance.

Her book offers a wealth of useful advice for women searching for their calling.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

By Audre Lorde

This collection of essays and speeches from the famous Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde is a celebration of the African American experience as seen through the eyes of a woman. She doesn’t pull any punches as she writes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, classism, and the civil rights movement.

Her writing is compelling and cuts deep as she draws from personal experience to fuel the passionate points she makes. She calls for action and demands change from the current systems that oppress marginalized people like her.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

By Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai’s name is synonymous with bravery in the face of adversity. When she refused to bow to the Taliban’s restrictions on education for women, she almost lost her life as a man shot her in the face at point-blank range. It’s a miracle survived, but what she’s done after her brush with death is even more miraculous.

From her position with the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace to her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize at age 16 – the youngest nominee in the history of the award – Yousafzai has continued her crusade to fight for the education of women.

Her story of resistance and perseverance inspires everyone to believe that one voice can change the world.

Becoming

By Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s legacy spans both before and after her terms in the White House. She will go down in history as the first African American First Lady, but she will also be known as the First Lady who cultivated one of the most inclusive periods in the White House. She didn’t sit back and let her husband run the country. She used her platform to spark change in America’s relationship with health, to advocate for the rights of women, and support her husband as he led with poise through a tumultuous time in American history.

Her book lets her readers into her world with her warm storytelling and compassionate reflection. She walks you through her childhood, her career, her term in the White House, and her experience as a mother.

She shares her experiences in her highest and lowest moments. Her vulnerability and authenticity are really what make this book shine.

Read the Works of Feminist Icons

There’s no more powerful way to experience the stories of incredible women than straight from the mouths of those women. From the #MeToo movement to the plights of women in the 18th century, reading about the experiences of women across the world will help shape the feminist you want to become.

What issues that these feminist icons write about call out to you? Sexism? Homophobia? Racism? Ableism? Ageism? There are plenty of issues that need your support, and it’s important to use your talents to push the world closer towards gender equality. Be a leader and fight for the future you want to see.

Sarah Margaret Henry
Published in Featured Articles, Life

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