9 Books to Help You Be an Intersectional Feminist
You can’t smash the patriarchy without being well read
What exactly is intersectional feminism? Well, it refers to the way different forms of discrimination (racism, sexism, classism, ableism) intersect. So it is understanding that all women have different experiences and identities (gender, race, class, sexuality, disability), which impacts the way society treats us.
Here are our top picks of the books you should be reading this month – from powerful essays to insightful memoirs and spell-binding poetry – to help you become more of an intersectional feminist.
All hail Queen Chimamanda, the award-winning writer of Half of a Yellow Sun, who writes with an eloquence unrivaled by any other. This personal essay is adapted from her incredible TEDx talk of the same name (watch it here), in which she gives a unique definition of modern day feminism – one that is rooted in inclusion. It is a battle cry, which should be reverberating around the world. Buy it here.
How could we not include the recent (joint) Man Booker Prize winner? The first black woman to win the prestigious award, Evaristo’s novel follows the lives of 12 different people, predominantly female and black. The interconnected stories are vividly told, covering race, identity, and womanhood, with an immediacy like no other. Buy it here.
The Indian-born Canadian poet has taken the world by storm, and reading her first collection it’s no surprise. Her beautiful poems weave Kaur’s calm, courageous voice with imagery that never fails to leave goosebumps. She touches on love, heartbreak, heritage, racism, assault, and sexism. Buy it here. One of my favourites:
i want to apologize to all the women
i have called pretty
before I’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry I made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is the most you have to be proud of when your
spirit has crushed mountains
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient or you are extraordinary
not because I don’t think you’re pretty
but because you are so much more than that
An empowering collection of more than 70 letters written by successful trans women in a variety of fields with advice they wished they’d been given when they were younger. Transitioning is a journey many trans women feel alone when embarking on, this book is all about the sisterhood; it is filled with hope and a reminder of the hard-fought victories. Buy it here.
Nadia Murad was one of the many Yazidi women who were forced to be sex slaves for ISIS when they invaded Sinjar in Iraq. This is the heart-breaking story of one incredibly brave woman trying to change the world. A hard read but important nonetheless. Buy it here.
This book is Black Girl Magic in literature form – sass filled, honest, and powerful. Written by two best friends, it is essential reading to learn about what it means to be a black British woman today. Buy it here.
A passionately written queer coming-of-age story, Dunham, who is non-binary, breaks down the assumptions we all have about gender, and takes us with them as they try to break free from those constraints. For a taste of their beautiful writing, read this New Yorker piece about Dunham’s search for a name. Buy it here.
Is there anything Elaine Welteroth can’t do? She became the youngest Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue at just 29, and was only the second African-American to hold the position – now she has written this insightful memoir/manifesto. She writes about race, identity, and success, as well as how she’s had enough of the world telling her—and all women—that they’re not enough (hear, hear). She is at the forefront of a generation of change makers, and we can’t wait to see what she does next. Buy it here.
Johnson was born with a congenital neuromuscular disease, so she was never able to walk, dress, or bathe without assistance. But this didn’t stop her from living life to the full, in fact it spurred her to become an attorney and activist who fought for the rights of disbaled people. From zooming around the streets of Charleston in her motorized wheelchair, to debating the philosopher Peter Singer at Princeton, Johnson was an inspiration (she died aged 50). The book is filled with her trademark humour and fierceness, but most importantly she shows us that having a disability doesn’t have to mean that life is full of suffering. Buy it here.