Some authors and books about feminism? I love your blog
Thank you. So, bibliochor and days-of-reading both put great rec lists together a few weeks ago, so I suggest checking those out, respectively here and here. There is some overlap, but considering we all study in different places and have been exposed to feminism in different ways, I’m making another list (slightly more and slightly less extensive in parts). I haven’t read everything on here in full (and there are a few that I haven’t read at all but that are high up on my to-do list), and I don’t align myself with all of the views, but I think it’s important to be familiar with a wide variety of feminisms to be able to put your own stance together.
So, I’m including classic texts, crit, theory, literature, and pop-culture lit. If you’re new to theory, I’d suggest jumping straight to the novels or the pop-culture non-fiction books as they make you think about specific theories and question the world, and then going back to the other texts.
Second Wave Theoretical and Critical Texts: (Again, warning: these can be radical, difficult, and unsettling to read – especially if you haven’t read feminist theory before, but they are eye-opening and extremely important to understand as they began to shape the feminist movement into what it is today.)
“Third Wave”/Late Late End of Second Wave: (This is basically just Butler, and again, if you aren’t familiar with theory, then I’d maybe stay away because Gender Trouble is a crucial text, but reading Butler is challenging.)
“Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Judith Butler
Feminist Novels & Poetry (I’m picking one work by each of these authors, but in most cases, their other works are worth checking out as well.) (Also worth noting that while some of these may not have necessarily been written with feminist intent, they are important to read in a feminist context.)
You honestly give some of the best, more thorough recommendations ever! I was wondering if you could recommend me any feminist literature? And also books about feminism/the history of feminism? Thank you in advance! Your blog is amazing <3
Hey, sure! This is a fairly extensive list, but I’ve put a * on ones I think are good starting points or are particularly important.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood*
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie*
NW by Zadie Smith*
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Paradise by Toni Morrison*
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner*
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
Orlando by Virginia Woolf*
Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf (not a novel technically but w/e, also not her most flawless work, very different in style to what you’d normally expect reading Woolf, but the effort is prodigious & worth a look)
Saint Joan of Arc by Vita Sackville-West
Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeaneatte Winterson
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman*
Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning*
Women by Chloe Caldwell
The Heavenly Twins by Sarah Grand (an often-ignored Late Victorian feminist writer)*
The Beth Book by Sarah Grand
And I know you didn’t ask, but a short list of feminist poets: Adrienne Rich, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, Eavan Boland, Anne Waldmann, Alice Walker, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe, Edna St. Vincent-Millay, Marianne Moore, Eilen Myles, Anne Sexton, Sappho
Feminist theory or literary criticism (the list starts with history & kind of segues into theory!):
Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism edited by Robyn R. Warhol Diane Price Herndl (the revised edition, though I guess either works!)*
The Feminist Reader: Essays and the Politics of Literary Criticism edited by Belsey Catherine and Jane Moore
The Madwoman in the Attic by Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert*
“Tradition and the Female Talent” by Gilbert & Gubar (in the book The Poetics of Gender, edited by Nancy Miller)
Heroines by Kate Zambreno*
Literary Women by Ellen Moers*
“The Laugh of the Medusa” by Hélène Cixous*
“Castration or Decapitation” by Hélène Cixous
This Sex Which is Not One by Luce Irigaray
In Other Worlds: Essays on Cultural Politics — in it, the essay “French Feminism in an International Frame” by Gayatri Spivak
The Kristeva Reader by Julia Kristeva — particularly the essays “The System and the Speaking Subject” and “Women’s Time”
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus
A Literature Of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë To Lessing by Elaine Showalter*
Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England by Sharon Marcus
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollenstonecraft
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler*
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” by Judith Butler
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison*
Women by Annie Leibovitz and Susan Sontag
How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ*
Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover (more of a niche interest, but really good if you’re interested)
Over Her Dead Body by Elisabeth Bronfen
Literature after Feminism by Rita Felski
“Interview” by Audre Lorde in Black Women Writers at Work
“Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” by Hortense J. Spillers
ablogwithaview this is a slightly more extensive version of the feminist crit post you reblogged today!
The Emperor's New Clothes (The Myth of Moffat's Scriptwriting 'Genius') by Claudia Boleyn
Today I read an article about Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who in the Arts and Books section of the Independent on Sunday. In this article, by Stephen Kelly, Moffat is criticised for his inability to write women, to complete his plots, to write the Doctor as a likeable and trustworthy figure, and to keep his audience entertained. Yet one line in this frankly scathing (and almost painfully truthful) review reads: ‘When on form, Steven Moffat is the best writer working in television today’.
Having read said article, and written rather a lot of Moffat critique myself, the statement baffled me. Kelly’s entire article is lamenting the current state of Doctor Who at the hands of this man, and yet Moffat is still gifted with glowing praise.
It’s a common theme. I see it often when people are asked to review Moffat’s work. It seems people are almost afraid of criticising him, seeing as he has been lauded one of Britain’s most brilliant television writers.
It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes. The Myth of Moffat’s Scriptwriting ‘Genius’. It’s a lie we’ve all absorbed and now just assume to be true. Sherlock himself would be frankly appalled by the entire thing. We are seeing, but we apparently do not observe.
Fellow Sherlock watchers will know what I mean (although many will probably not agree) when I equate Moffat’s writing to the empty houses of Leinster Gardens. An empty façade. It looks great from the outside, but when you step closer, you realise it’s just a whopping great train station with some drugged up self-proclaimed sociopath lurking in it.
Let’s examine this case a little closer, shall we?
Ah, Maleficent. Of all the CGI saturated updated fairy tale movies we’ve been given in the last few years, Maleficent stands out to me. While “Oz” seemed light nothing but awful, and the Alice movie was eye roll inducing, the Hansel and Gretel movie looked stomach churning and wasn’t there like a Jack and the Beanstalk thing the looked terrible? Maleficent at least got me excited to see it.
I’ll say this for Maleficent: I think it deserves better review than it got. While the Rotten Tomato score hovers around 50%, I’d say it really deserves an 80, maybe 78%. It’s not a perfect movie. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen. But I enjoyed it. If you like pretty things and watching Angelina Jolie rock the shit out of being a hot baddie, you’ll enjoy it too.
Because I’m a firm believer of ending on high notes, let’s talk about some of the films weaknesses first.
The bad: 1. “The Woman Scorned” trope is used in full force.
I really, really dislike “The Woman Scorned” plots as a general rule. The idea that a woman’s entire motivation revolves around a man, especially in a way that villainies her, truly does not inspire me. It’s over done.
Now, obviously, I think Maleficent 100% had a right to be pissed as hell at Stephan for what he did. Dude’s a slime ball. But Maleficent’s motivation in this movie could have been ANYTHING. It didn’t HAVE to be a man. She could have simply been acting out to protect the Moors. She could be avenging fallen friends. I dunno, maybe Stephan cut down her favorite tree. She’s a FAIRY, her motivations could have been anything in the world. But, in a stunningly typical twist, it is a romantic betrayal, which seems rather lazy and in my opinion, strips Maleficent of some of her narrative power- focusing so much of her motivations on spurned love gives a man too much influence over her power in my opinion.
2. While I’m no expert on ableism, and please feel free to correct me on this, there’s something rather off putting about the narrative “Loosing your primary mobility turns you into a villain, and upon your redemption, you get it back.”
Like, Maleficent is essentially disabled after loosing her wings. She needs a walking stick and even then, her mobility is severely hindered. And it is during this time that she goes full force evil. Upon being “good” again at the end of the movie- her wings are inexplicably returned to her, fully functional, and thus fully mobile again. And there’s something really skeevy about portraying disability as a sign of evil. Good guys don’t have to live disabled, apparently?
3. Also, minor complaint here, Aurora’s mom was really shoved aside. I don’t even think she got a name. She seems to exist so Aurora can be born, then dies off screen. :/
4. This movie is SUPER white. There were at least SOME black men in the army, but I think all the humanish fairies were light skinned and the vast bast majority of the human cast. So…minor plus to at least showing some PoC, but minus for having so little.
- - - - - -
Ok, now, The good. 1. Complicated female relationships are, like, totally my thing.
I know that the Bechdel test isn’t the end all be all of feminist film crit, but when a TRAILER passes it, you know you are in for a ride. Obviously the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora is at the heart of the film. It comprises the entire narrative arc. Aurora is Maleficent’s redemption, the one who is able to help her overcome her own bitterness and remember love again and all that. And it’s really refreshing in big summer movies to see a female relationship that is so important to the narrative. It’s a good trend to see continued, especially in kids media.
Now, I know there’s lots of debate about a possible Maleficent/Aurora queer reading in this movie (what with the “Love’s kiss” and all) but I’m going to go ahead and say that I don’t ship this. I’m all down for a pansexual/queer reading of Maleficent. Absolutely. Holding Fairies to heteronormative expectations is ludicrous. BUT, Maleficent has literally helped raise and shape Aurora her entire life. That inherent power imbalance feels like “grooming” and I’m really not feeling it. Queer Maleficent- yes. Maleficent/Aurora- no.
2. I’m really digging this trend of subverting “True Love’s Kiss” as “who the fuck needs straight boys?!"
True love breaking curses is the oldest trick in the fairy tale book, and Disney has been using it FOREVER (Literally. Snow White has it.) But between Brave, Frozen, and now Maleficent, it seems like Disney’s writers are all on board to play around with this trope in some deliciously "we don’t need no stinkin’ boys” ways.
Poor, poor Prince Philip in this movie. So useless and ineffectual. I will forever love watching him get dragged around, unconscious, for the majority of his screen time.
3. Minor note, I really liked how uncomfortable the Sleeping Kiss made Philip. Because seriously, yall just met, don’t be smoochin on girls you’ve met one time while they are unconscious. Philip seems nice.If utterly useless.
4. Other minor note, this movie was fucking pretty. Very very pretty.
I’m sure there’s other pros and cons that I skipped over in this, and please, tell me all about them in reblogs. But….yeah. Maleficent. Net positive on this one, especially if you are in the mood for fairy tales.
When did men become the measure? When did we collectively decide writing was more worthy if men embraced it? I suppose it was the ‘literary establishment’ that made this decision when, for too long, men dominated the canon, and it was men whose work was elevated as worthy, who received the majority of the prestigious literary prizes and critical attention.
Male readership shouldn’t be the measure to which we aspire. Excellence should be the measure, and if men and the establishment can’t (or won’t) recognize that excellence, we should leave the culpability with them instead of bearing it ourselves. As long as we keep considering male readership the goal, we’re not going to get anywhere.
Roxane Gay, “Beyond the Measure of Men,” Bad Feminist.
The older I get the more I accept that female sex-based
oppression is the most undervalued, devalued, and ignored/erased oppression out
males (a.k.a dickhavers and testicle-bearers) can be
oppressed on every other existing axis of oppression (e.g: racial, ethnic,
socioeconomic class), which means those forms of oppression matter or matter more. But if the oppression ONLY directly
oppresses female people, then far less people give a shit about it, including
Gender critical feminists will ask ‘how come it’s only female
sex-based oppression that is getting the kind of backlash treatment that it’s
getting on the Left (by progressives, liberals, leftists, radikewls,
radiqueers, etc)’? Gender crit. feminists point out that other axises of
oppression don’t get the kind of treatment that female people and acknowledging
female oppression is getting.
The whole sex-based category of “woman” and “girl” has been
erased on the radikewl queer left (and its colonization by males is 100%
accepted and promoted on the Left), also supported on the Left is the erasure and male colonization of
feminism (now replaced by a heavy mix of MOGAI, trans/queer, genderist
so-called ~intersectional~ identity politics that is based on female erasure
and a revamped form of male dominance and male-centeredness).
While both the female-specific “woman” and “girl” categories
have been erased, female-specific and female-only feminism practically doesn’t
exist in the liberal, left-leaning, and leftist mainstream. Female-only spaces
and female-only organizing are totally taboo and harshly condemned.
No other group is getting this kind of treatment on the
I’m always reminded of this when I enter into other tolerated and uplifted progressive or leftist spaces.
I was given entry into the campus office of a black student
activist who has a huge sign reading, “BLACK SPACE MATTERS” in large bolded
font in their office and I’m reminded about the indisputable fact that a
feminist activist in today’s third wave political climate could NEVER get away
with having a “FEMALE SPACE MATTERS” sign in a prominent known [office] space.
I would regularly access a black separatist/black-only space
on campus and I’m reminded every. Single. Time I enter it that radical
feminists and female separatists could NEVER get away with having such a space
on the basis of being biologically female in today’s genderist third wave
period. Wanting a female-only space or collective would and does cause massive political shitstorms
but the black space I enter into is unquestioned and is taken for granted by
lefties. No respectable lefty would
challenge its existence, it just is.
They’re all these events held by radikewls that experience
less resistance by progressive millennials (pumped full of queer theory)
because they’re in the mainstream Left and people are very familiar with their
androcentric anticap and ~intersectional~ SJ identity politics. A lot of
progressive millennials do not react to
“intersectionalists” in the way they react to radical
feminists, radical lesbians, gender critical feminists, and female separatists.
There is something specifically intimidating about
female-born women and girls organizing on their own, for themselves, with love
and loyalty towards other female people, with the intent and purpose of
prioritizing female liberation … that for some reason (the reason being
misogyny and male chauvinism) causes people to start barking “TERF! TWERF!
SWERF!” mixed in with making graphic death threats, rape threats, and
I’m not saying other progressives and leftists don’t
experience cultural or public resistance (from say, the center, right, or even
other people on the Left) but female separatists, radical lesbian feminists,
anti-porn/prostitution feminists, radical feminists, gender critical feminists,
and the like, are being largely treated and targeted in a way that exposes the
double standards that permeates the Left when it comes to what kinds of
‘radicalism’ is tolerable, acceptable, or appropriate.
The double standard is that all other forms of separatist
autonomous organizing is okay (because it by default includes males), but
female separatist autonomous organizing for radical female liberation is not
okay and must be stopped and demonized at every possible turn.