14 Feminist Reads to Get You Started with Being a Feminist Ally

Posted on September 27, 2023

by Cami Roth Szirotnyak and Rachel Richardson

This is a guest post by the authors of On Drowning Rats: How Two Women Took Down a Sexual Harasser and How You Can Too, Cami Roth Szirotnyak and Rachel Richardson.

The Steinem Sisters Collection is a feminist collection that explores the lives and achievements of women. Created to honor Gloria Steinem, the collection champions the historical, cultural, and political contributions of women and strives to provide a welcoming space for women of all walks of life to share their truths. The types of materials in the collection are first and foremost “feminist materials”- which are those materials that uphold women’s rights and interests in defining and promoting political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. This collection was made possible due to a generous donation by The Steinem’s Sisters Collective.

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem

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A collection of essays from Gloria Steinem, activist and writer, acclaimed as a warm, witty, and life-changing view of the world, “as if women mattered.”  From classic essays that spark humor, “If Men Could Menstruate,” to deeply personal tribute to her mother, “Ruth’s Song (Because She Could Not Sing It),” Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions has introduced millions to feminist thinking in our everyday lives.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Based on Adichie’s TED Talk of the same title, We Should All Be Feminists centers modern feminism in diversity, inclusion, and awareness.  This is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and a rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

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In this classic study, cultural critic bell hooks examines how black women, from the seventeenth century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women. Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, Ain’t I a Woman is deeply critical of the racism inherent in the thought of many middle-class white feminists who have failed to address issues of race and class. While acknowledging the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is still a dilemma, hooks challenges the view that race and gender are two separate phenomena, insisting that the struggles to end racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined.

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill

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From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Equality by Allison Yarrow

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Deeply researched yet thoroughly engaging, 90s Bitch untangles the complex history of women in the 1990s, exploring how they were maligned by the media, vilified by popular culture, and objectified in the marketplace. In an age where even a presidential nominee can be derided as a “nasty woman,” it’s clear that the epidemic of casting women as bitches persists. To understand why we must take a long, hard look back at the 1990s—a decade in which female empowerment was twisted into bitchification and exploitation.

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism

A new generation of outspoken women of color offers a much-needed fresh dimension to the shape of feminism of the future. In Colonize This!, Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman have collected a diverse, lively group of emerging writers who speak to the strength of community and the influence of color, to borders and divisions, and to the critical issues that need to be addressed to finally reach an era of racial freedom.

The Essential Gloria Steinem Reader: As If Women Matter by Gloria Steinem, edited by Ruchira Gupta

A collection of thought-provoking essays on feminism, which brings out the many forms of disgraceful facts that revolve around it.

On Drowning Rats: How Two Women Took Down a Sexual Harasser and How You Can Too by Rachel Richardson and Cami Roth Szirotnyak


On Drowning Rats tells the story of two Toledo, Ohio area women who brought down their sexual harasser and lights a path for others to follow when seeking their own justice.

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy


No matter the geography, rather than teaching women and girls to survive the poisonous system they have found themselves in, Eltahawy arms them to dismantle it. The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls is not a road map to peace with the patriarchy, it is a north star to anyone fighting it.

A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far by Adrienne Rich

A collection of poetry, Rich’s clear-eyed engagement with American poets, activists, and feminists of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century including Willa Cather, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Simone Weil, Ethel Rosenberg, and others, and her own relationship to their lives and work.

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These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

Mystical, rooted, painful, joyous, and ecstatic; visions of the body, our genders, and our very identities from across the spectrum of contemporary poetry come together in this intersectional feminist anthology where verse and comics unite in spectacular new ways.

A graphic novel about a young queer Puerto Rican woman questioning herself and her life while interning for her favorite writer, Harlowe Brisbane, in a new city. With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

In her first book of comic strips, Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the mental load (i.e., all that invisible and unpaid organizing, list-making, and planning women do to manage their lives and the lives of their family members). Most women carry some form of mental load–about their work, household responsibilities, financial obligations, and personal life, but what makes up that burden and how it’s distributed within households and understood in offices is not always equal or fair.

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