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Books For Girls To Revolt By

Almost exactly one year ago, practically everyone I know crumpled over in grief. The people who matter. What were we mourning? The death of everything we believed in. An outraged cry went up, a disbelieving howl of anger and disgust. Words and words and words poured out of me at the time. I was an open wound walking around in the world.

To all of those who told me at the time to stop whining, to just lie back and accept it, that I was over-reacting, that I needed to give things time before I judged– to all of you I just want to say: you were wrong.

Being right is cold comfort after watching so much of importance stripped away from our country in a mad, utterly narcissistic grab for power. Trump has torn through vital programs and common decency like a person on one of those timed store shopping sprees. You can have anything you can shove in your cart in 60 seconds or less! And he wildly latches on to anything he can, laying waste to all in his path, because he knows his time is short.

The part that has always disturbed me the most, in conversations I’ve had, in posts I’ve read online- the part I just can’t get around is how we elected a rapist and serial sexual assaulter as our President. Even if you 100% agree with his politics, even if the snake oil oozing out of his conman face does not bother you in any way, the fact that he’s a rapist should be ENOUGH. Full stop, no mealy mouthed caveats.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a good portion of the population simply doesn’t care. The things he’s publicly and undeniably said about and to women do not disturb some of you. The massive number of allegations against him, including those made by his own wife, are met with a resounding shrug. Some of you will always take the side of the man, and no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway you.

Which brings us to now. I feel we’ve finally reached a boiling point. The Rapist in Chief is honestly only a catalyst. I think he lit the fuse that prompted women to stand up and say “No more.” As Rose McGowan has said, the shame is not ours. We’re giving it back to them, no matter how they struggle to shirk the weight of their deeds.

From Ms. McGowan herself, to Leah Remini, McKayla Maroney, Asia Argento (who compiled this list

 

of over 80 victims of Harvey Weinstein alone), to all of the women speaking out on the #MeToo hashtag, to so many women that I could sit here for DAYS– we are finally making our voices heard and amplifying the voices of others. As I said on Facebook:

 

The thing is, now that a light is being shone on all this darkness, I’m worried that we will lose focus on the real goal. Catharsis without change is nothing at all. The future looms before us. Will we let our boys grow up to be these same men? Will we let another generation of girls harbor so much shame and pain? The best way to effect change is through education. I know, it would feel more satisfying to set some people on fire or maybe have a riot. But the fire has to be in our brains, the riot has to come in the form of radically changing the way we socialize our children.

In the spirit of (r)evolution, I wanted to share a list of books to revolt by. Some are old standbys, some are so new they haven’t yet been published. The binding theme is the end to quiet acceptance. Arm yourself with knowledge, stand up and roar, stand up and fight.

 

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BRAVE  by Rose McGowan

I want to start with this one because she deserves a place in history as a hero.

“Hello fellow human, pleased to meet you. My name is Rose McGowan and I am BRAVE. I want you to be too.”

BRAVE  is McGowan’s raw, honest, and poignant memoir/manifesto—a no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches account of the rise of a millennial icon, fearless activist, and unstoppable force for change who is determined to expose the truth about the entertainment industry, dismantle the concept of fame, shine a light on a multibillion-dollar business built on systemic misogyny, and empower people everywhere to wake up and be BRAVE.

“My life, as you will read, has taken me from one cult to another, the biggest cult of all: Hollywood. BRAVE is the story of how I fought my way out of these cults and reclaimed my life. I want to help you do the same.”

Available January 30 from HarperOne.

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Be Fierce  by Gretchen Carlson

When star news anchor, journalist, mother of two, and former Miss America Gretchen Carlson spoke up about sexual harassment in the workplace, she had no idea what lay ahead. But now, the floodgates have opened and thousands of women are joining her to Be Fierce and reclaim their power against any abuse or injustice.

In Gretchen’s new book, BE FIERCE , she shares her own experiences, as well as powerful and moving stories from women in many different careers and fields who decided they weren’t ready to shut up and sit down.

Available from Center Street.

 

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Wrecked by Maria Padian

It may not offer pat answers, but this is the sort of book that should be mandatory reading for high school students. What it does offer is a key to unlocking conversations about how we should go forward, how we build the language and understanding that stops assaults from happening. Yes it may be heart-wrenching and hard to read, but sometimes only through pain can enlightenment and change be found.

Read my full review here.

Available from Algonquin Young Readers.

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We Should All Be Feminists  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The highly acclaimed, provocative New York Times bestseller—a personal, eloquently-argued essay, adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah. Here she offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Available from Anchor Books.

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The Riot Grrrl Collection  by Lisa Darms (ed.)

For the past two decades, young women (and men) have found their way to feminism through Riot Grrrl. Against the backdrop of the culture wars and before the rise of the Internet or desktop publishing, the zine and music culture of the Riot Grrrl movement empowered young women across the country to speak out against sexism and oppression, creating a powerful new force of liberation and unity within and outside of the women’s movement. While feminist bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile fought for their place in a male-dominated punk scene, their members and fans developed an extensive DIY network of activism and support. The Riot Grrrl Collection reproduces a sampling of the original zines, posters, and printed matter for the first time since their initial distribution in the 1980s and ’90s, and includes an original essay by Johanna Fateman and an introduction by Lisa Darms.

Available from The Feminist Press at CUNY.

Yes Means Yes by Steven Wells

In Yes Means Yes, recently single Katie Russell has barely finished unpacking in her new graduate school apartment, when she hears the terrifying sounds of a struggle a floor above. Upstairs, she finds Ava on top of her bed, naked and unconscious, and a young man who threatens Katie and runs away. Katie takes her to the hospital, where traumatized Ava refuses to file a criminal complaint. Dumbfounded by Ava’s reluctance, she participates in the university hearing herself, which results in nothing more than meaningless sanctions. Outraged, Katie teams with a stalwart retired detective in a perilous attempt to seek justice, and takes a clandestine job within the police department. As she searches for another victim, one willing to testify in court, she confronts issues of Title IX, rape culture, criminal law, and a university administration that prefers student sexual assaults remain under wraps. In the book’s thrilling conclusion, Katie’s involvement becomes personal, and there’s more than justice on the line.

Available from Overlake Media.

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Girls to The Front  by Sara Marcus

“For a Second Wave feminist like myself, Girls to the Front evokes wonderfully the way the generation after mine soaked up the promise and the punishment of feminist consciousness….A richly moving story.” —Village Voice writer Vivian Gornick

Girls to the Front is the epic, definitive history of the Riot Grrrl movement—the radical feminist punk uprising that exploded into the public eye in the 1990s, altering America’s gender landscape forever. Author Sara Marcus, a music and politics writer for Time Out New York, Slate.com, Pos, and Heeb magazine, interweaves research, interviews, and her own memories as a Riot Grrrl front-liner. Her passionate, sophisticated narrative brilliantly conveys the story of punk bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy—as well as successors like Sleater-Kinney, Partyline, and Kathleen Hanna’s Le Tigre—and their effect on today’s culture.

Available from Harper Perennial.

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Witches Sluts Feminists  by Kristen Sollee

Witch, Slut, Feminist: these contested identities are informing millennial women as they counter a tortuous history of misogyny with empowerment. This innovative primer highlights sexual liberation as it traces the lineage of “witch feminism” through art, film, music, fashion, literature, technology, religion, pop culture, and politics. Juxtaposing scholarly research on the demonization of women and female sexuality that has continued since the witch hunts of the early modern era with pop occulture analyses and interviews with activists, artists, scholars, and practitioners of witchcraft, this book addresses and illuminates contemporary conversations about reproductive rights, sexual pleasure, queer identity, pornography, sex work, and more. Author Kristen J. Sollee elucidates the ways in which women have been persecuted for their perceived connection with witchcraft, and how they have fought back, harnessing the legacy of the witch for revolutionary means.

Kristen J. Sollee is an instructor at The New School and founding editrix of Slutist, an award-winning sex positive feminist website.

Available from 3L Media.

 

Feminist Fight Club  by Jessica Bennett

It was a fight club—but without the fighting or the men. Every month, women would gather in a New York apartment to share sexist-job frustrations and trade strategies for how to tackle them. For years, these meetings were kept secret. But the time has come to talk about the club.

In Feminist Fight Club, acclaimed journalist Jessica Bennett blends the personal story of her real-life fight club with a studied assessment of the gender gap that continues to plague the American workplace. With equal measures wit and rigor, Bennett provides the tactical strategies—and the camaraderie—every woman needs to fight back, as well as tools for the men who support the cause.

Available from Harper Wave.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Books For Girls To Revolt By

  1. Feminist books mean little when feminist leaders create inequality between women.

    July 2017 saw the election of a new national president and vice president for the National Organization for Women (NOW). Only NOW members who had the money, transportation, time, and substitute care for children, parents, and/or spouses to attend the national conference had voting rights. Feminist NOW leaders chose Orlando, Florida in the middle of the Florida peninsula for this election conference. Orlando is about as far away from the rest of the country as is possible to get. No absentee voting. No voting through state chapters. One of the candidates for president was a Florida resident. Guess who won.

    Fewer than 500 members had voting rights to elect a president and vice president for an organization with 100,000s of members. The National Organization for Women is THE champion at voter suppression and rigged elections. Vote suppressing Republican politicians should take note.

    The feminist leaders at NOW are teaching their members to remain quiet about inequality instead of speaking up about inequality. When women learn to keep quiet about one issue, how will they have the skills to speak up about other issues? Feminist leaders are harming all women in the United States.

    For the record, I have a degree in women’s studies and considered myself a feminist for about 20 years until I decided I could no longer remain the silent and passive follower feminist leaders wanted. Equality between men and women is impossible as long as feminist leaders create inequality between women.

    • I appreciate you taking the time to share you thoughts.

      I think perhaps there are two ways to look at this. You can be angry and frustrated at the political infighting and machinations of one Feminist organization. You can allow that to color your view of feminists as a whole, throwing up your hands in disgust and saying “I’m done with this.” But then what?

      The saner course of action involves realizing that some organization doesn’t dictate YOUR feminism or how you will act or believe. If you see corruption and inequality within your own group, you must work to combat it- just as women must fight against being silenced by society, government and the world at large. If you don’t like how you are being led, become a leader yourself. If you rely on others to forge a path for you, you don’t have much room to complain about where that path takes you.

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