A Beginner’s Guide to Feminism

The social justice heavens answered my prayers last month. My straight, white brother-in-law requested feminist books for Christmas. Since I had already found him a present and since we made a commitment to buy less material gifts this year, I decided to make a feminist ‘curriculum’ for him and any other person who is interested in gender equality and feminism.

I’ve taken a three-pronged approach to tackle feminism by focusing on social issues, economics, and politics. Within each, I’ve chosen to highlight a few themes that I find particularly important. I’ve tried to add a variety of mediums for each which will be highlighted in the following way:

    • Social media account
    • Podcast
    • Book
    • Article
    • Video

I’ve also organized it by levels (1-5) to better meet budding feminists where they are. This is by no means meant to be a completely comprehensive list of all feminist writing but if you feel this is lacking a certain voice or category, let me know!



Ethical non-monogamy
      1. Sex at Dawn: Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality – Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha
      2. Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic – Esther Perel
      3. The Atlantic – Real Talk on Open Relationships
      4. Quartz article on polyamory
Sex Work
      1. The Butterfly Effect – Jon Ronson 
      2. The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure – Tristan Taormino
      3. Revolting Prostitutes: A Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights – Molly Smith, Juno Mac
      4. The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women – Jessica Valenti
      5. Blowin’ Up (2019)
      6. Erica Lust – Feminist porn (NSFW)
      7. Gizmodo article on revenge porn
      8. Sex Work and the Capitalist Patriarchy – Public Seminar
      1. Hunger– Roxane Gay
      2. Shrill – Lindy West
      3. Tell Me I’m Fat – Lindy West (episode of This American Life #589)
      4. NPR article on South Korean beauty ideals
      5. Fatphobia: France’s systemic prejudice
      6. Instagram: Jessamyn Stanley, @mynameisjessamyn 
      1. Bustle explainer on ecofeminism
      2. The shaping of ecofeminism
      3. Mother Nuture: Female Shaman – Pulitzer Center
      4. Brazilian healers documentary
Media Representation
      1. Bechdel test
      2. Too Soon Rehabilitate Louis CK
      3. Do Museum Wall Labels Hide Artists’ Misogyny? Gauguin and Picasso Protested at Met
      4. Baltimore Museum Of Art Will Buy Works By Women Only Next Year
Gender Norms
      1. Gender Failure – Ivan E. Coyote, Rae Spoon
      2. Redefining Realness – Janet Mock
      3. The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
      4. Gender Unicorn image
      5. Homophobia is transphobia is sexism is misogyny – polycitta article
Motherhood (or not)
      1. The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
      2. Motherhood: The Unfinished Work of Feminism – Guardian article
      3. The Baby is Coming – Salty.World
      4. Twitter: @shoutyourabortion


      1. Know My Name – Chanel Miller
      2. Qui sont les violeurs? – Les couilles sur la table podcast (in French)
      3. Un violador en tu camino – Las Tesis
      4. Sex for Grades documentary
      5. Has MeToo gone too far? – RTE article
      6. Sexual Abuse of Women inside Prisons
Assault and Harassment
      1. Intimate partner violence statistics 
      2. Mashable article on stalkerware
      3. Men Think They Can’t Get a Date Because of Feminism
      4. Women Run Without Fear – Runners World
      5. How to Talk To A Woman Without Being a Creep
      6. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (caveat: I personally did not enjoy reading this book but I recognize its cultural importance.)
      7. Fighting Street Harassment in Brazil – iD youtube series
      8. Instagram @dearcatcallers
Notable Female Activists
      1. Phoolan Devi: Reine des Bandits – Claire Fauvel (graphic novel in French)
      2. Angela Davis
      3. Alexandra David-Néel
      4. Ida B. Wells
      5. Jeanne Baret
      6. Tawakkol Karman
People of Color
      1. NPR article on the roots of gynecology and black women
      2. How white feminists oppress black women – chacruna.net
      3. Eloquent Rage – Brittney Cooper
      4. AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
      5. Black Women Are For Grownups – 2 Dope Queens
      6. Twitter: Professor Anthea Butler (@AntheaButler)
      7. The Psychology of Black Hair – TEDx
Hormones and Reproduction
      1. PMDD and PMS Elle article
      2. History of birth control – Allure
      3. Et si on partageait la charge contraceptive? Les inrockuptibles
      4. How we got hooked on hormonal birth control – Under the Hood
      5. The Bleeding Edge (2018)
      6. This is Your Brain on Birth Control – Sarah E. Hill
      7. Garcon – Facebook page
      1. A Glorious Freedom – Lisa Congdon
      2. Invisible Woman Syndrome – ILM
      3. Last Fuckable Day – Amy Schumer
      4. Kusama : Infinity (2018)


Workplace politics
      1. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
      2. The End of Lean-In – WashPo
      3. NPR article on upspeak and vocal fry
      4. How subtle workplace sexism impacts women – Insead
      5. Patriarchy hurts men too – Battle Tactics for Your Sexist Workplace
Emotional labor
      1. Women Aren’t Nags — We’re Just Fed Up – Gemma Hartley 
      2. The Second Shift– Arlie Hochschild
      3. Intimacy – Lean Back
      4. Men have no friends and women bear the burden HB article
      1. Feminism for the 99%
      2. Feminist squat run by women BBC
      3. Is capitalism destroying feminism? Dawn Foster interview
Period Tax
      1. Menstruation is not a luxury
      2. Menstruation next frontier French feminists
      3. It’s Not Just the Period Tax, Why Periods are Political
      4. Period. End of Sentence.(2018)

Level One: I Don’t Know What Feminism Is

    • Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics – Bell Hooks
    • We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngochi Adichie
    • Patriarchy hurts men too 
    • A Glorious Freedom – Lisa Congdon
    • Bechdel test
    • Gender unicorn

Level Two: Ok, Got It, But Can’t We Just Be ‘Equalists’?

    • Lean Back podcast on intimacy
    • Gizmodo article on revenge porn
    • History of Birth Control
    • How subtle workplace sexism impacts women
    • Ericka Lust
    • Has MeToo gone too far

Level Three: Basics Down, Hit Me With the Good Good

    • PMDD + PMS
    • NPR article on upspeak and vocal fry
    • Know My Name – Chanel Miller
    • Sex at Dawn
    • Men have no friends and women bear the burden
    • Redefining Realness
    • The Butterfly Effect
    • Shrill – Lindy West

Level Four: Oh, This Is Like A Tiramisu, Layered

    • Sexual Abuse of Women Inside Prisons
    • Hunger – Roxanne Gay
    • Mating in Captivity
    • Sex Work and the Capitalist Patriarchy
    • The Psychology of Black Hair
    • Gynecology and black women
    • Gender Failure
    • The end of Lean In

Level Five: I’m Ready For The Deep Shit

    • The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
    • How white feminists oppress black women
    • Homophobia is transphobia is sexism is misogyny
    • Invisible Woman Syndrome
    • Feminism for the 99 percent
    • Revolting prostitutes
    • Is capitalism destroying feminism
    • The baby is coming

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