Harness an atomic rocket to it

Rachel Holmes in the Guardian names 10 feminist classics. In her introduction to the list she makes the important point that feminism is far from new or exclusively modern.

Gender-based inequality remains the greatest global injustice and the struggle against it spans millennia and continents. These books make us more impatient for change, but they may also be turned to in dark hours when it feels change might never come. Feminism is no impulse or outcome of modernity. As these books show, it has been around for centuries. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, or number what “wave” we are now riding; we need to harness an atomic rocket to it.

Yes to that.

The list itself is woefully deficient because it doesn’t include Does God Hate Women?

Kidding, kidding.


  1. says

    Do you have any suggestions to add to that list, or can you let me know which books on that list you like the most?

    I often call myself an “ally to feminist causes” and avoid the actual word for two reasons. The first is that it gives me a rhetorical edge with people that can’t seem to be able to get past labels. I can tell them to stop smearing group labels/leaders around and talk about specific issues. It even makes it more effective when I point out that there are even some issues that the MRM is even right on like data on male sexual abuse and violence, which might break though that group-bias shell a little.
    The second is that I don’t actually have a decent grounding in feminist philosophy and history so when I meet one of those people that insist that all of feminism is X (insert horrible thing), I can’t get really specific as to why they are wrong other than to demand their evidence that literally the whole group is X (not as effective as me getting specific on that point). I’m mostly pretty good at coming around on specific issues where society is screwed up differently for different people.

  2. says

    J S Mill, The Subjection of Women

    Martha Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice

    Katha Pollitt, Reasonable Creatures & Subject to Debate (that’s 2 books)

    Susan Moller Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?

    Daphne Patai & Noretta Koertge, Professing Feminism – which is about how NOT to do feminism.

  3. Stacy says

    A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf

    Tell Me A Riddle (four short stories) Tillie Olsen

    The Mermaid and the Minotaur Dorothy Dinnerstein
    (You don’t have to agree with all her Kleinian psychoanalytic theories to appreciate her profound understanding of misogyny)

    The Dream of a Common Language (poetry). Adrienne Rich

    Ain’t I a Woman? bell hooks

    How to Suppress Women’s Writing Joanna Russ

    Cat’s Eye (novel) Margaret Atwood

  4. Silentbob says

    From the link:

    4. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

    Wow, 1792? I had no idea. My first thought* was, ‘That’s contemporaneous with The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine!’. But checking the Wikipedia page for the former book I discovered that Wollstonecraft had actually predated Paine with her own A Vindication of the Rights of Men, written for the same reason. (Both Rights of Man/Men were written in defence of the legitimacy of the overthrow of the French monarchy by the people.)

    * Actually, my first thought was, ‘What? The woman who wrote Frankenstein?’. Turns out she’s the mother of the woman who wrote Frankenstein, and the mother died at the age of only 38 giving birth to the daughter.

    So today I learned many things.

  5. says

    Yes. Mary Godwin Shelley had one hell of a heritage, plus she married Shelley, and wrote Frankenstein. After Shelley died she became kind of dull and respectable.

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