The Best Books to Fuel Your Feminist Rage
Are you mad lately? Us, too. It’s understandable - with more and more states trying to take away women’s rights, the gender pay gap, the constant burden of emotional labor, and that time they had to cancel an all-female space walk because they literally just didn’t have space suits for women, there are more than enough reasons to be angry on a daily basis. Just read the news (or maybe don’t - I honestly can’t say I recommend it).
On the plus side? This is a golden era for feminist literature - whether you’re looking for a dystopian novel that will keep you up at night thinking “That would never actually happen, right?” or an academic read that will help you channel your anger into a more productive place than the all-caps group texts with your friends (although we totally endorse those, too).
Here are our favorite books for fueling your feminist rage (and read to the bottom for a few organizations you can support right now if you’re mad and want to make a difference):
Vox by Christina Dalcher: A truly horrifying story in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, set in the uncomfortably-near future. A hyper-conservative political party that wants to return society to biblical gender roles is in power, and they’ve systematically stripped women of their rights and independence - only allowing them to speak 100 words out loud every day. The scariest part? The way Dalcher describes the small, familiar changes that led to the extremist society we see in the book. I finished it in one night and woke up inexplicably angry at my husband the next day.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister: Traister is a Book Babes fav and frequent contributor to New York Magazine and The Cut (where I spend 95% of my phone’s daily Screen Time allotment). Written after the 2016 election and published at the height of #MeToo, this book could not be more timely - but it’s about a lot more than the events of the past few years. It’s an exploration of how women’s anger has impacted politics throughout history, and how society often doesn’t give women the space to be mad. The last line of the book: "Don't ever let them talk you out of being mad again."
Fed Up by Gemma Hartley: I mentioned emotional labor earlier - it’s how women tend to take on the mental and emotional work that keep their households and families running (things like buying birthday presents, remembering doctor’s appointments or knowing which chores need to be done). Fed Up delves into why this work falls disproportionately on women, and how both women and men can work to solve it. Read this if you’ve ever yelled at your husband, “I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO UNLOAD THE DISHWASHER, I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT IT NEEDS TO BE DONE” and then burst into tears.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper: Cooper is a professor, writer and founder of the very cool Crunk Feminist Collective. Her book is an exploration of the power of black women’s anger - from Serena Williams to Beyoncé to Michelle Obama. It’s also deeply personal, with stories about her mother, her grandmother and her own experiences as a black woman. The very first lines? “This is a book by a grown-ass woman written for other grown-ass women. This is a book for women who expect to be taken seriously and for men who take grown women seriously. This is a book for women who know shit is fucked up.” 👏👏👏
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit: This 2014 book is indirectly credited with bringing the term “mansplaining” into our daily vocabulary, for which we are grateful. It’s a collection of essays by writer, historian and activist Solnit, covering some of the most rage-inducing topics like the erasure of female voices, violence against women, sexual assault and gender roles. It’s about a lot more than just mansplaining, but if the title alone doesn’t make you want to read it - for all the men who have interrupted you in meetings, explained something to you that you already knew, or restated exactly what you just said, only a little louder - I don’t know what to tell you.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: The mother of all dystopian feminist novels - honestly, it needs no introduction. The book that launched a movie, an opera, a hit TV show, and the most badass protest outfits of all time, and gave us all nightmares about forced reproduction and complete subservience (I don’t think I can make Offritz work, unfortunately). Required reading for your college English class and the year 2019. (Atwood is apparently working on a sequel due out later this year, too). Until then - nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
And as promised - if you’re mad as h*ck right now and want to do something about it, here are a few organizations doing great work for women that you can support:
Yellowhammer Fund, which provides funding and support for abortion care in Alabama
She Should Run, an organization that helps women run for office
National Organization for Women, one of the oldest and largest groups fighting for women’s rights
Built by Girls, which promotes opportunities for women and girls in STEM
Girls on the Run, a fantastic organization that empowers elementary and middle school girls through running
NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national group fighting to support reproductive rights on the legislative level