Let’s all just admit it: 2016 has been a relentless hellscape of a year. Arguably, this goes doubly for all of the ladies out there, particularly the fiery feminist ladies. Being one myself, I turned to books this year to escape some of the trauma of the election, world news and the general level of hatred that seems to be filling the air around women right now. Perhaps their words can lead us through the dark days sure to come next year (specifically after January 20).
1. Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
We all have them: mansplainers. For those who don’t know, the term mansplainer was inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s essay Men Explain Things to Me. Here she delves into what happens when a man assumes that he knows more than a woman in any field, regardless of her level of expertise. Any self-identified Nasty Woman has surely been in these shoes, and she’ll surely enjoy the origin story of one of our favorite types of men (*eye roll*).
2. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Lindy West
Maybe you like your feminism a little less academic. Lindy West perfects the balance between cultural criticism and gut-busting humor in Shrill. Get your girl a book that’ll make her laugh, cry and tell this queen to preach as she shares some of the most telling experiences in her life as a “loud” woman.
3. You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism, Alida Nugent
Alida Nugent writes with a fearlessness to which any Nasty Woman would aspire. Her pull-no-punches approach towards all things women’s issues makes her both hilarious and one of the realest writers you’ll ever read. Every page will have your fave feminist nodding in agreement or laughing out loud as Nugent runs through every topic from lackluster sex ed to eating disorders to unnecessarily sexy yogurt ads.
4. Sex Object, Jessica Valenti
Rape culture is real. Every Nasty Woman knows this to be true. In her first memoir, feminist author Jessica Valenti talks through her experiences and thoughts on rape culture in a simultaneously relatable and horrifyingly truthful way. Among other things Valenti asks, “Who would I be if I lived in a world that didn’t hate women?” If this question can’t create a feminist rally cry then nothing will.
5. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the RIOT GRRL Revolution, Sara Marcus
Does she love angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion? Any woman this describes would love this history of Riot Grrl movement, an era defined by punk rock music fueled by feminist ideals. Take your feminism with a dose of 90s history thrown in and sink down into this blast from the past.
6. My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem
What list of feminist reads would be complete without Queen G? Gloria Steinem has been a staple of the feminist movement since the 60s which basically makes her required reading. Her latest memoir chronicles her personal travels as a feminist and political organizer. She also gives a unique perspective on moments we’ve only read about in history books.
7. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The text of a TED Talk sampled by Beyoncé, it’s unlikely there’s a single feminist who hasn’t heard of this little gem. Adichie breaks down the reasons for feminism in such a way that they become irrefutable, common sense approaches to an otherwise frustrating world. Basically she has given us all a master class on how to take a deep breath and explain your beliefs in a way that would make sense to even the most ridiculous of misogynists.
8. We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement, Andi Zeisler
From one of the co-founders of Bitch Magazine comes this indictment of modern culture as it relates to feminism. With the f-word becoming an ever-more-popular media trend, we must now start to ask ourselves: what does it mean to be a feminist now? How has the movement changed? Andie Zeisler uses her 20 years as a feminist writer and cultural critic to answer these increasingly important questions.
9. The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women , Jessica Valenti
I know, I know, Jessica Valenti was already on this list once. Just hear me out. Her perspective on the way we value women’s sexuality in America is a must-read for anyone with or without a feminist ideology. The Purity Myth can be used as a tool to help any woman own her choices, her body and her sexuality which is as feminist as it gets.
10. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
There is no one right or wrong way to be a feminist. It took a long time for me to learn this, but it is one of the essential lessons en route to a full feminist realization. Any woman who needs help owning her choices and her complications will appreciate Roxane Gay’s approach, which is based around owning her “bad feminism” and owning herself.