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5 books about Intersectional Feminism for Students

This International Women's Day, 8th March 2022, the theme is #breakthebias. In order to recognise, overcome and ally with women as we work towards creating a gender equitable society, an exploration of Intersectional Feminism is important. But, what is Intersectional Feminism?

Intersectional Feminism, or the idea of intersectionality, has recently entered mainstream vocabulary. The term itself was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 and defined as:

“a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times, that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”

When beginning to understand intersectionality, including intersectional feminism, it can often mean an overwhelming amount of information on a number of different topics, including information that challenges the way you may already think or what your definition of ‘Feminism’ currently is.

People are often hesitant to know more about intersectionality, simply because they do not know where to look for information, or they are scared that it requires a process of re-learning our definition of feminism to understand it: afterall, we have different lived experiences, values and beliefs. Challenging, questioning and unlearning can often seem daunting. But this is totally normal; being a feminist means a continuous re-evaluation of the way we live, the role itself is a constant process of learning, especially in light of systemic, global and economic change for gender equity.

We must all start somewhere and for me, starting young is the best place! Reading a variety of books, articles and essays have been transformative for my understanding of intersectional feminism. This #iwd day, #breakthebias and ally with women across the world by learning through reading!

Below is a list of some introductory texts about different areas of intersectional feminism. From books to essays, suitable for 15+ students, I hope they make you just as curious about being womxn as they have me.

1. Feminism Interrupted by Lola Olufemi

An excellent, concise introductory text to intersectional feminism for 15+ students. Olufemi highlights how the history of Black, Asian and Global Majority womxn has been erased from mainstream feminism. Every student can soak up a chapter of this in tutor time, as part of a lesson or after school to engage in a wider, whole-school debate with their peers and teachers.

2. The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master's House by Audre Lorde

A powerful set of short, accessible essays, rooted in personal and human experiences. Suitable for ambitious 16+ students and to be read sensitively and critically. Lorde's essays explore her experiences as a 'Black, lesbian mother' and how we use our anger, sexuality, history to overcome the patriarchal systems we still find ourselves within today.

The links below give you free access to Lorde's incredible essays:

3. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

A classic, well-known text that can probably be made accessible to a range of age groups by teachers. Woolf explores how resources are needed in order to be heard and how class affects the agency of women.

As a pivotal text of its time, it also offers an insight into the need for further intersectionality, given that Woolf delivered this transformative piece at a time overwhelmed by sexism, bias and it is ultimately a text marking the beginnings of mainstream feminism.

4. Women, Race, Class by Angela Davis

The brilliant, Professor Angela Davis explores the history and experiences of African-American women within a sea of white feminism. I have yet to read this book fully, but it is powerful, critical, challenging and everything a 17+ student would want to read to ignite their curiosity in the unsettling intersections of feminism and womanhood.

5. The Double X Economy by Linda Scott

An SSB book club read and episode for the SSB Podcast, The Double X Economy is a detailed, challenging, research and fact-based exploration of empowering women through economics. Another one I am currently reading, Professor Scott's use of history, data and her own global travels talking and learning from women across the world places economics at the centre of gender equity.

This is definitely a text that can be used in Geography, History, Politics and PSHE lessons for 14+ students.

All of these texts are valuable, rich and have been transformative in my understanding, (un)learning and curiosity about intersectional feminism. There are so many more and I love how reading helps me in my ability to engage in critical discussions, to think, to listen and learn how to be an activist in a nuanced manner. Reading is helping me #breakthebias one page and sentence at a time, something all students can (and should) engage in!

Kirsty is an A level Student, Deputy Head Girl and soon to be English Literature Undergraduate.


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