Thursday, June 2, 2011

I love to read. I don’t know when I started enjoying reading because it was a skill that I did not develop until the late years of my elementary education, but I remember reading my way through high school with books of fiction that inspired me to be a strong, independent woman. Most of the stories that made my life manageable were ones that had strong female protagonists, who solved problems by thinking through them and still managed to have fun while over coming personal struggles. Because I was so caught up in my fictional stories, I did not like reading non-fiction, especially theory—until I went to college and I took my first theory focused course: feminist theory.

Reading feminist theory was like taking a breath of fresh air. I found comfort and peace of mind in theoretical pieces that revealed gender inequality—something that I had always felt, even experienced, in my life but didn’t understand or know how to name. I had heard of feminism, but never truly knew what it was. I was uneducated on social movements of the 1960-70s. My idea of feminism was of women not shaving their legs and burning bras so that they could have the same rights as men. Feminist theory for me was like glasses; suddenly the blurry unequal world around me made more sense. Suddenly, the world was clearer.

As my college career has continued my exposure to different types of feminist theory and books has increased. I also have taken an acute interest in sociological theory, specifically dealing with gender, power structures, and social psychology. Below, I have listed the books in my feminist library (on the shelf right next to my fiction library). I haven’t even managed to read all of them yet. I wanted to share these books with you because they are important to me. These books have helped me understand the world we live in, made college courses very interesting, and struck up intense conversations; they have inspired me to think differently about all people, to have an open mind for inclusion and diversity; they have influenced my own feminist work; and have kept me company in the late nights when I can’t sleep.

What I’m Reading Now:

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

Books I’ve Read:

City of Women: Sex and Class in New York 1789-1860 by Christine Stansell

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism edited by Daisy Hernádez and Bushra Rehman

Different Wavelengths: Studies of the Contemporary Women’s Movement edited by Jo Reger

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

Feminist Methods In Social Research by Shulamit Reinharz

Flaunt It! Queers Organizing for Public Education and Justice by Therese Quinn and Erica R. Meiners

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

Gender Inequality: Feminist Theory and Politics by Judith Lorber

Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeier

Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation edited by Barbara Findlen

New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and The Politics of Menstruation by Chris Bobel

The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes From Home and Work by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in the Welfare State 1917-1942 by Gwendolyn Mink

The W Effect: Bush’s War On Women edited by Laura Flanders

To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism edited by Rebecca Walker

Books I Haven’t Read Yet:

Daring To Be Ourselves Interviews by Marianne Schnall

Feminist Theory From Margin to Center by bell hooks

Gendered Bodies: Feminist Perspectives by Judith Lorber

He’s A Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti

No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and The Future of Women by Estelle B. Freedman

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies edited by Sandra Harding

The Newly Born Woman by Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

To me, the beauty of feminism is that it comes in so many forms—theory, text books, personal narratives, herstories, poetry, case studies, research, subjectivity, objectivity, experience, everyday activism, art, music, expression, zines, blogs, websites, DIY, scrapbooks, theater, film, conversation, marches, rallies, politics, mentoring…the list could go on. These forms of feminist expression allow women’s stories to be told and that’s important. Every woman has a story. Every story has value.

Muriel Rukeyser said “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” My feminist expression is in books, theory and writing. What’s yours?

~Katie.

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