Feminism 101: must-reads for your feminist beginnings

Social media and Fourth Wave feminism gave women’s issues visibility like never before, making many of us actively listen. But in this crowd of information, in a myriad of viewpoints, opinions and judgements, it is easy to get confused about what feminism is nowadays.

Well, a uniform answer to that doesn’t exist anyway: feminisms clash with each other; they disagree and argue on what we should stand for and what we should fight against. There are, however, some universal ‘truths’ that most women believe in, some absurdities that we want to disarm collectively. This year’s Women’s History Month, I want to recommend three books that had helped me to understand (and question!) the fundaments of the feminist world, and that can help you begin your feminist journey.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It was the first feminist book I had caught in my hands (or, as I believe now, it had found me when I most needed it). This short essay is an easy-to-follow and rich explanation of how the word ‘feminist’ is still used as a curse word, and stereotypes continue to overshadow its true meaning. It is not hatred to men; it is not all about unshaved legs and bras in flames. As Adichie says, “I would now call myself a happy African feminist, who does not hate men, and who likes lip gloss, and who wears high heels for herself but not for men,” meaning that being a feminist has no specific shapes, frames or faces. Being a feminist is to pick up a fight against inequality, first and foremost. (Available in a TED talk form here). 

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies) by Scarlett Curtis

If I found this book as a teenager, I’m sure many of my experiences would have been completely different. But reading it in my 20s had contributed to widening my viewpoint, nevertheless. This collection of essays is a great illustration of feminism, essentially, being what you’ll make it. It can vary from mine, but I will still call you my sister; we can disagree and still walk the same path to dismantle patriarchy; we can live on different continents but stand firmly behind what we together believe in. Through this book, Curtis emphasises that “(…) if we have any hope of achieving anything, we must do it together.” All you have to do is grab this book, wear pink (or not!), and join the resistance.

Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks

Written by a feminist legend, a woman of colour that emphasis on inclusivity makes reading her books a personal experience, this short book is a feminism 101 textbook. Page by page, with every asked by hooks question, I felt that she just named every feeling I had struggled to put my finger on while growing up. Have you ever thought that it is not fair that boys can be loud and free, but girls should always remain well-behaved? YES. Have you ever wondered why domestic work is being disregarded, and why women are expected to handle it while going to ‘a real job’ at the same time? YES! There are so many mechanisms that we sadly got used to; we don’t ask why. In this book, hooks challenges us to begin to question it, oppose it, change it. If you want to start saying ‘no’ to the unfair systems, this book is a great place to start. 

If books are not enough and you long for a real-life conversation with like-minded women, visit our Feminist Society page and join our UoL sisterhood.