I Promise I Won’t Freak Out This Time.

I have a certificate in Women’s Studies. I’m still not entirely sure how I received it, but I feel that way about most of my college experience. I *do* remember taking my first Women’s Studies class. The four dudes that lived with me also remember. Because I lost my mind. Like, if they didn’t do the dishes, they were clearly keeping me down.

Or, you know, they were 20-something guys.

I was furious all. the. time. Everything I read simply made me more angry. So like an adult, I stopped reading the assigned texts.

Fast forward to now and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Adult Summer Reading program! This year we asked our summer readers to set a reading goal. I volunteered to be a reading coach and set a goal of my own. I will read those feminist classics that I avoided in the interest of not burning my house down. (So far “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the only one that had me eyeing the matches.)

Here is a short list, with blurbs from the catalog. (I didn’t read them yet, so I can’t write reviews.) What’s missing? What should I skip? OMG, summer is so short!

SimonedBThe Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of “woman” and to explore the power of sexuality. Drawing on extensive interviews with women of every age and station of life, masterfully synthesizing research about women’s bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles, The Second Sex is an encyclopedic and cogently argued document about inequality and enforced “otherness.” A vital and life-changing work that has dramatically revised the way women talk and think about themselves.

KateChopinThe Awakening, Kate Chopin

Novelist and short story writer Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was the first American woman to deal with women’s roles as wives and mothers. The Awakening (1899), her most famous novel, concerns a woman dissatisfied with her indifferent husband. She eventually gives in to her desire for other men and commits adultery. It is a searing indictment of the religious and social pressures brought to bear on women who transgress restrictive Victorian codes of behavior.

BettyFriedanThe Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic–these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan’s . This is the book that defined “the problem that has no name,” that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since.

AudreLordeSister Outsider, Audre Lorde

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.

NaomiWolfThe Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf

The bestselling classic that redefined our view of the relationship between beauty and female identity. In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. However, Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”

And much more by Lucille Clifton, an amazing author and poet I discovered during National Poetry Month in April.

homage to my hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

Anyone else have a reading goal? Need a coach?

not burning anything down currently,





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9 responses to “I Promise I Won’t Freak Out This Time.

  1. Sheila

    If there is anyone more annoying than Naomi Wolf, let me know.

  2. KellyZ

    Great list! One book on my list: Deborah Tannen’s “Talking from 9-5.” At my day job, in a department of mostly women interacting with clients and coaches who are mostly men, we have a lot of great conversations about how we use language in the workplace.

  3. Kate

    Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay and Men Explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit (along with sister outsider) are on my list (for probably the Fall). ;)

  4. Sarah Louise

    I highly recommend Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology to anyone who wants a bigger view of women’s studies. Unfortunately, CLP does not own a copy, and my copy is dear, so I don’t lend it out, either. It is available through ILL or an online bookstore. I read it in college (eons ago) and it is still something I refer to at least once a year. Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Renita Weems (LOVE HER). I think bell hooks is in there too.

  5. Call me Cordelia

    Thank you for this! I’ve been wanting to make a similar reading list!

  6. Beth L

    For someone looking for fiction, the sci-fi novel The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri Tepper has a great ‘wow’ moment at the end when you realize what’s really going on between the men and women…

  7. Great recommendations! As if I weren’t already always cursing the patriarchy and fighting the urge to punch catcallers…

  8. Tara

    If you’re looking for a fun YA read, I really enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. And if you’re looking for something to watch, 9 to 5 is pretty much always a good time.

  9. Pingback: July Recap | Eleventh Stack

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