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Book Recommendations for Every Wave of Feminism

Women’s History Month
It’s Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate and acknowledge women's contributions to society. There are so many important moments in women’s history that should be remembered, and it helps to analyze the trajectory of modern feminism in waves to pay tribute to the past. Some consider there to be three waves of feminism, with the third wave currently ongoing, while others believe the fourth wave began over a decade ago. Regardless of what you believe, we can agree that each generation of women has played an important role in improving women’s lives throughout history, from earning women the right to vote to reframing women’s sexuality.

Books from every historic wave

Here are some book recommendations for each wave of feminism!First-wave feminism took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and was created as a result of the industrialist environment and liberal, socialist politics. It was a period of feminist activity and thought that focused on equality from a mostly legal perspective–in particular, gaining women the right to vote. One of the foundational texts of this wave of feminism is “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by Mary Wollstonecraft, a writer known for producing one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir is another book regarded as a groundbreaking work of feminist philosophy that discusses the treatment of women throughout history. “Aint I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth is an essential work of first-wave feminism that argues for equal rights for Black women.Second-wave feminism started in the early 1960s and continued for about two decades. Its primary goal was to build on previous feminist movements and expand its focus to a wider range of issues regarding sexuality, family, domesticity, the workplace, reproductive rights, and official legal inequalities. This movement aimed to critique patriarchal institutions and systems throughout society. Seminal texts from this period include Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” and “Ain’t I a Woman?”—named after Sojourner Truth’s essential work—by bell hooks. bell hooks’ work examined the impact of sexism on Black women during slavery, racism among feminists, and Black women’s contributions to feminism, and would continue to be relevant and influential throughout the coming waves of feminism.Third-wave feminism began in the early 1990s and was grounded in the advances of civil rights wins from the second wave. Feminists in the third wave fought for diversity and individualism in women, while hoping to redefine what it truly meant to be a feminist. More feminist theories, such as intersectionality, sex positivity, and transfeminism emerged. An essential read   from this period of feminism is “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler, which is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexities. Another book to read is “Feminism is for Everybody” by bell hooks, which explores the nature of feminism and its intention to eliminate sexism and oppression.Fourth-wave feminism began in the early 2010s and focuses on the empowerment of women, intersectionality, and internet activism. It seeks to improve gender equality while primarily focusing on sexual harassment and objectification of women in the workplace, as evidenced by the viral #MeToo movement. The biggest difference between the fourth wave and its predecessors is its emphasis on using social media as a tool for activism. A book that focuses on the ideas of this wave of feminism is “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall. This book is a collection of essays that challenge the legacy of modern feminism, claiming that it ignores the needs of the majority of women.
Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth digital book - Fable

Ain't I a Woman?

By Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth fought for the equal rights of black women throughout her life. This selection of her impassioned speeches is accompanied by the words of other inspiring African-American female campaigners from the nineteenth century

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan digital book - Fable

The Feminine Mystique

By Betty Friedan

Lively, astute, and ferocious...The Feminine Mystique should be required reading for anyone who cares about women.

The Vagina Monologues by V digital book - Fable

The Vagina Monologues

By V

Witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise, this award-winning masterpiece gives voice to real women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall digital book - Fable

Hood Feminism

By Mikki Kendall

A potent and electrifying critique of today’s feminist movement announcing a fresh new voice in black feminism.

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