9 Books All Feminists Need During The Trump Presidency
The last year hasn't exactly been... great for women.
Under Donald Trump, Planned Parenthood is at risk of being defunded, the Hyde Amendment has been made permanent and we've watched a man accused of sexual assault — one who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy — ascend to the White House.
But on Saturday, January 21, the day after his inauguration, millions of women across the country protested by marching against Donald Trump and on behalf of women's rights.
For most of us, it was an inspiring sight — a reminder that we'll continue to fight back.
You may have seen some women on Facebook sharing essays and posting statuses about how they don't need feminism in the wake of these protests.
Unfortunately, that opinion couldn't be further from the truth; feminism is just as important as ever in 2017.
Whether you want to become more involved and educated to prepare for life under Trump, or you want to provide some readings for a friend or relative who doesn't believe we "need" feminism anymore, these books are the perfect place to start.
1. "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
This is famous author and poet Sylvia Plath's only novel, but, man, does she make it count.
It's the story of a depressed young woman in the '60s who feels trapped by her lack of choices.
She feels stifled as a woman, and it's only when she can truly take control of her destiny that she starts to recover from her depression.
If you have any doubts about the importance of reproductive justice, this book is a must-read.
2. "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
Long before you were a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte or Samantha, you identified as either a Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy (OK, fine, no one wanted to be Beth).
The novel follows four sisters throughout the late 1800s as they struggle to carve out their own identities with a lot of help from each other.
Jo in particular is a great feminist role model (c'mon, we ALL wanted to be a Jo, right?).
She turns down a marriage proposal because she knows she needs to remain independent, works hard to achieve her writing dreams and refuses to temper down her strong personality.
3. "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan
This book is often regarded as the catalyst for the second-wave feminism movement.
It focuses on how '50s women were bored, trapped and deeply unhappy with their marriages and lack of career, which stifled their potential to be housewives.
It'll remind you of how far we've come in the last 60-plus years, but also why feminism is such an important tool to fight societal expectations, and why we have to fight these expectations in the first place.
4. "Full Frontal Feminism" by Jessica Valenti
This is a funny, modern take on why we still need feminism (chapters include "If These Uterine Walls Could Talk," "My Big Fat Unnecessary Wedding and Other Dating Diseases" and "I Promise I Won't Say “Herstory.”)
You'll laugh as much as you'll cringe at the uncomfortable truths Valenti packs throughout this book, which discusses everything from pop culture to reproductive rights to relationships to education.
If you're feeling unsure that feminism matters for a young millennial, this book will convince you.
5. "Ain't I A Woman?: Black Women and Feminism" by bell hooks
bell hooks is an icon, and for good reason.
In this book (which gets its title from famous abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth), she writes about the female black experience and how racism and sexism work together to keep minority women down.
It's a good introduction to intersectional feminism.
One valid complaint after the Women's March was that it was mainly a plethora of white women attending, who historically haven't been good allies to their minority sisters.
Consider the fact that 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump (compared to 6 percent of black women).
We need intersectional feminism, and this book is a helpful start.
6. "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
This book is actually being turned into a series on Hulu, and it's easy to see why it feels like a relevant title to bring to the small screen right now.
It's set in a dystopian future, where a totalitarian theocracy has taken over.
Women are only allowed in society as wives and mothers, and infertile women are considered non-persons.
It's a chilling vision that's not completely far-fetched.
7. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
If you're looking for a quick read, you need to try this unsettling short story.
The tale of a woman forced by her husband to spend her summer inside a mansion to recover from "mild hysteria," it'll creep under your skin.
It's a frightening tale of a male figure controlling a woman and demonstrates how passivity and control destroys you.
Good luck looking at fancy wallpaper ever again.
8. "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
Maybe you've seen the Spielberg film, or maybe you've already read this book in a high school English class. Either way, it's worth picking up now.
It's about an African-American girl named Celie Harris, who discovers her self-worth through some strong female figures in her life.
It demonstrates how powerful and transformative our relationships with other women can be, and works as a vivid reminder of how class, racism and sexism intersect.
9. "The Vagina Monologues" by Eve Ensler
You have no idea what you're missing if you haven't seen the play, "The Vagina Monologues."
It's a series of short stories told by very different women, from a Bosnian woman subjected to rape to a woman ranting about tampons, to a woman who learned to love her vagina after a profound sexual experience.
Being a woman doesn't necessarily equate having a vagina. But women are often taught to hate their bodies, hide their sexuality and to discreetly hide tampons.
This play speaks the experiences all women share, and views the vagina as a tool for empowerment — nothing shameful about it. That's a message anyone can get behind.