First thing’s first – here’s the soundtrack for this article:
On this glorious day, August 26, in the glorious year of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified as law. For anyone not up on their Constitutional Amendments (YOU SHOULD BE), that’s the one that gave women the right to vote. So, to commemorate the date, we have Women’s Equality Day, a holiday that celebrates ladies getting a right we should have had from the very beginning.
Women’s Equality Day is a well-intentioned holiday that’s still a bit touchy, mainly because the subject of women’s equality is still about as frustrating and divisive as it was in 1920. The gender wage gap is still a thing, along with rape culture on college campuses and the disproportionate targeting of women of color for heinous forms of internet abuse. In the face of all these real and complicated issues, it’s hard to believe that we’ll shatter the glass ceiling anytime soon, even if we happen to elect the first female President in November. Long story short? Being a lady is not easy.
However, despite all of the really complex issues facing women today, there’s still a lot to be hopeful about. To paraphrase our most jellybean-loving President, freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction — we have to keep earning it over and over again in order to maintain it. The same thing goes for women’s rights, and in the spirit of keeping the fight for women’s equality going, here’s a book list that should inspire you to be the most kick-butt female freedom fighter you can be!
We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books, 2015)
There seems to be a lot of weird divisiveness today about what the definition of the term “feminism” is. Well, allow BookTrib and Beyoncé-favorite Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie bring you up to speed on what feminism really means in the 21st century in this already classic essay that’s one of the essential reads of this decade.
Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Laura Barcella (Zest Books, March 8, 2016)
Even if you’re a scholar of women’s history, it’s hard not to enjoy this helpful history of some of the most prominent feminists in history. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Malala Yousafzai, this cute yet informative short collection of biographical notes on some of the coolest women ever will inspire you not only to learn more about women’s history, but to strive for equality where possible in your own surroundings.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Lindy West (Hachette Books, May 17, 2016)
This provocative, half-hilarious half-heartfelt memoir is as entertaining to read as it is thought-provoking. Lindy West’s misadventures with rape-joking comedians, people calling her fat and Internet trolls are told with a mix of humor and vulnerability that’s really appealing. This is a great book to read if you’re tired of people telling you to be quiet.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Vintage, 2010)
Even though Women’s Equality Day is an American holiday, it’s important to also consider the plight of women around the world. This book will make you angry about what some women in the developing world have to go through, but it’ll also inspire you to do what you can to help. These stories of real women, complete with enough struggle and triumph to bring you to tears, is a deeply emotional experience that should be required reading for all humans.
Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket Books, 2015)
This short collection of essays is a scathingly humorous look at the relationships between men, women and society at large. Solnit addresses gender power dynamics with honest anecdotes, witty wisdom and a cool, collected voice that’s kind of irresistible to put down. It’s eye-opening, unflinching and empowering.
And, just for fun, here are two more books to look forward to:
Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace, Jessica Bennett (Harper Wave, September 13, 2016)
For any woman who has had a difficult time at work with a weird male coworker who won’t leave her alone, this book sounds like a winner. While some of the examples and made-up terms in this book are hilarious, the point of the book is to give working women real advice on how to operate in a workplace that isn’t always structured to support them. Since working women need all the help they can get, we’re really looking forward to diving into this workbook.
You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, Phoebe Robinson (Plume, October 4, 2016)
There are a lot of people who don’t really try to understand the plight of women who have to deal with subversive sexism and racism on a daily basis. Those people are dumb. Enter comedian Phoebe Robinson, co-host of the wildly popular 2 Dope Queens Podcast, who is here to explain the ridiculousness of everyday life as a black woman in America as best she can. Pairing unabashed call-outs of modern culture with charming humor, this book is something we’re definitely looking to get on our shelves, as well as everyone’s shelves to be honest, because empathy isn’t something a woman should have to explain.