Blog post

International Women's Strike Reading List

Anne Rumberger 3 March 2017

Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism
by L.A. Kauffman

“You could not ask for a better guide through recent social movement history than L.A. Kauffman. This startling, inspiring book is for anyone who has ever felt the urge to put their body on the line and shut things down for something they believe in."– Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform and co-founder of the Debt Collective

As Americans take to the streets in record numbers to resist the presidency of Donald Trump, L.A. Kauffman’s timely, trenchant history of protest offers unique insights into how past movements have won victories in times of crisis and backlash and how they can be most effective today.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
by Kate Evans

"If it were a movie, you might call Red Rosa a tour de force, but that would be short-changing it." — Los Angeles Review of Books

In this beautifully drawn work of graphic biography, writer and artist Kate Evans has opened up her subject’s intellectual world to a new audience, grounding Luxemburg’s ideas in the realities of an inspirational and deeply affecting life.

Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work
by Melissa Gira Grant

“Makes precisely clear that a culture that polices, silences and marginalizes women who sell sex is a culture that cares nothing about women. Period.” — Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness

Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in her experience as an organizer, advocate, and former sex worker, Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, criticizes both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization, and argues that separating sex work from the "legitimate" economy only harms those who perform sexual labor.

Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World
by Kumari Jayawardena
Foreword by Rafia Zakaria

For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton
edited by Liza Featherstone

To get a woman in the White House, it’s thought, would be an achievement for all women everywhere, a kind of trickle-down feminism. In False Choices, an all-star lineup of feminists contests this simplistic reading of the candidate. A detailed look at Hillary Clinton’s track record on welfare, Wall Street, criminal justice, education, and war reveals that she has advanced laws and policies that have done real harm to the lives of women and children across the country and the globe.

Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States
by Sheila Rowbotham

“An immersive book with a gripping narrative drive and it will make you wonder why stories like this are usually ignored by historians.” –Mail on Sunday

Offers fascinating perspectives on the historical interaction of feminism, socialism, and anarchism and on the incipient consciousness of a new sense of self, so vital for women seeking emancipation. These six lives bring fresh slants on political and cultural movements and upon influential individuals like Walt Whitman, Eleanor Marx, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Patrick Geddes and Benjamin Tucker. It is a work of significant originality by one of our leading feminist historians and speaks to the dilemmas of our own time.

Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons
Edited by Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman
Foreword by Michelle Alexander

“Essential reading. These women’s stories compel us to recognize their humanity, tenacity, and value as people, and reveal a hidden and heart-wrenching reality.”– Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black

Inside This Place, Not of It reveals some of the most egregious human rights violations within women’s prisons in the United States. In their own words, the thirteen narrators in this book recount their lives leading up to incarceration and their experiences inside—ranging from forced sterilization and shackling during childbirth, to physical and sexual abuse by prison staff. Together, their testimonies illustrate the harrowing struggles for survival that women in prison must endure.

The Anti-Social Family
by Michele Barrett

“A very daring critique of the family" - Sociology

Despite much talk of its decline, the nuclear family persists as a structure central to contemporary society, a fact to be lamented, according to the ideas of Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh. A frank socialist-feminist critique of the family unit.

Women’s Oppression Today: The Marxist/Feminist Encounter
by Michele Barret

“An excellent and lucid discussion of the debates within contemporary feminist theory, makes a major contribution to our understanding of the nature of that oppression.” – Mary Evans, London School of Economics

A classic text in the debate about Marxism and feminism, exploring how gender, sexuality and the “family-household system” operate in relation to contemporary capitalism. This updated edition analyses the social and intellectual changes that have taken place since the book’s original publication and looks at the political climate in which the book was written.

The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (NOT available in North America)
by Shulamith Firestone

“A landmark manifesto.” –Susan Faludi, New Yorker

Firestone states: "the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally." Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics and is part of the bedrock that makes up radical feminist thought.

Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis
by Nancy Fraser

“For more than a decade, Nancy Fraser's thought has helped to reframe the agenda of critical theory.” – Etienne Balibar

Fraser traces the woman’s rights movement from the 1970s, calling for a renewed radical feminist response to the hierarchical and oppressive constraints of neoliberalism. Her text recognizes: ‘…a “dangerous liaison” between feminism and marketization, these essays urge feminists to break that unholy alliance and forge a principled new one, between “emancipation” and “social protection.”

Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought
by Nalia Kabeer

“A splendid synthesis of the new feminist development economics that challenges gender bias in both theory and practice.” –Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts

Uncovers the deeply entrenched, hence barely visible, biases which underpin mainstream development theory and account for the marginal status given to women’s needs in current development policy.

Woman's Estate
by Juliet Mitchell

“The quality of Mitchell’s thinking is revealed by her ability both to be critical of certain aspects of the women’s movement, and yet keep herself free of the bitterness and disillusion of radicals of an older generation.”
–Richard Sennett, New York Review of Books

Focusing on 4 key areas: work, reproduction, sexuality and the socialization of children Mitchell combines the energy of the early seventies feminist movement with the perceptive analyses of the trained theorist, making Woman’s Estate one of the most influential socialist feminist statements of all time.

Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century
by Sheila Rowbotham

“As the 21st century falters forward with faith wars and economic collapse, women need to be at the forefront of reimagining our world. This book is a timely reminder that we have been here before.”  Jeanette Winterson, The Times

From the 1880s to the 1920s, a profound social awakening among women extended the possibilities of change far beyond the struggle for the vote. This book is an acclaimed exploration of women who revolutionized American and British life, raising questions that remain at the forefront of feminist thought today.

Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World
by Sheila Rowbotham

“Rowbotham is one of Britain's most important, if unshowy, feminist thinkers, and a key figure of the second wave.” –Melissa Benn, The Guardian

“I do not believe that women or men are determined either by anatomy or economics, though I think both contribute to the definition of what we can be and what we have to struggle to go beyond.” – a ground-breaking contribution to debates surrounding women’s oppression and consciousness.

Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman
by Michele Wallace

“A landmark black feminist text ... Deserves rereading.” – Ms.

Deconstructs the patriarchal structures within the Black Power movement, thus demonstrating how black female subjectivity has been blocked by the mythical portrayals of black womanhood. This republication contains a foreword placing the book within the context of black feminism today - an essential read for those studying the point where race and gender intersect.

Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression
by Christine Delphy
Translated by Diana Leonard
Foreword by Rachel Hills

Close to Home is the classic study of family, patriarchal ideologies, and the politics and strategy of women’s liberation. On the table in this forceful and provocative debate are questions of whether men can be feminists, whether “bourgeois” and heterosexual women are retrogressive members of the women’s movement, and how best to struggle against the multiple oppressions women endure.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
by Mary Wollstonecraft

Composed in 1790, Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal feminist tract A Vindication of the Rights of Woman broke new ground in its demand for women’s education. This book remains one of history’s most important and elegant broadsides against sexual oppression.

Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement
by Jane McAlevey

Argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s—in short, social movement unionism that involves raising workers’ expectations (while raising hell).

“Demonstrates that good organizers can in fact succeed.”– Frances Fox Piven

The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition … Socialism
by John Nichols

Now in an updated edition, The “S” Word makes a case for socialist ideas as an indispensable part of American heritage. A new final chapter considers the recent signs of a leftward sea change in American politics in the face of increasing and historic levels of inequality.

“A chilling reminder of how much rich American history has been erased by shallow messaging. A crucial book.” – Naomi Klein

Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity
by Micah Uetricht

The Chicago Teachers Union strike was the most important domestic labor struggle so far this century—and perhaps for the last forty years—and the strongest challenge to the conservative agenda for restructuring education, which advocates for more charter schools and tying teacher salaries to standardized testing, among other changes.

“Brilliant political analysis." – The Nation

Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings
by Joshua Clover

Award-winning poet Joshua Clover theorizes the riot as the form of the coming insurrection

“Joshua Clover’s project is to reveal the continuities between Occupy and Ferguson, and to historicize a new era of uprisings within the long centuries of capital restructuring, racialized containment, and collective action. In its sweep, rigor, and elegance, Riot. Strike. Riot is pleasurable and provocative, worthy of the urgent debates it should inspire.” – Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Who We Be: The Colorization of America

Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World
Edited by Paul Buhle and Nicole Schulman

A vibrant history in graphic art of the Industrial Workers of the World.

“Tell the bosses to go to hell and buy an extra copy of this wonderful history. Give it to an exploited friend or just leave it in a public place. On the centenary of the IWW, we should be replanting the seeds of rebellion.” – Mike Davis

Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America
Edited by Carla Blumenkranz, Keith Gessen, Mark Greif, Sarah Leonard, Sarah Resnick, Nikil Saval, Eli Schmitt, and Astra Taylor

The first book to explore the Occupy movement in depth, with reportage and analysis.

With contributions by Judith Butler, Angela Y. Davis, Jodi Dean, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Zoltán Glück, Elizabeth Gumport, Doug Henwood, Christopher Herring, L.A. Kauffman, Svetlana Kitto, Kung Li, Audrea Lim, Manissa Maharawal, Thomas Paine, Marco Roth, Marina Sitrin, Rebecca Solnit, Stephen Squibb, Sunaura Taylor, Alex S. Vitale, and Slavoj Žižek