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10 Books to Read on International Women's Day

Taking International Women's Day back to its radical roots.

Verso Books 2 March 2023

Image: Anne Thorne with son, photographed by Liz Millen, Archway, London. Taken from the cover of Making Space: Women and the Man Made Environment by Matrix
rior to its revival by feminist movements in the 70's and its adoption by the UN in 1977, 'Woman's Day' was first recognized in the United States in 1910 following the thirteen week long strike of 20,000 female garment workers. International Women's Day was then recognized by the second Conference of Socialist Women as a means to express internationalism in their struggle. Four years later on this day in Russia, bread riots led by women fed directly into the first moments of the 1917 revolution. International Women's Day has historically been one of protest and collective action.

As International Women's Day has moved further into the mainstream, and away from its political origins, we see the same voices (and ideas) being pushed to the forefront.

Taking International Women's Day back to its radical roots, we bring you 10 books that will broaden your feminist horizons with reading that is anticapitalist, eco-socialist, antiracist, as well as full of rage and defiance.

For a longer list: see our complete socialist feminist reading list here.

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A fiery feminist manifesto from the Chilean performance collective who led the rallying cry for today's mass feminist movement across South America.

An angry, unrepentant tour-de-force that moves through rage, femicide, abortion, homophobia, feminist art, and the oppression of the state to argue for a feminist world based on collective struggle and a visionary political art.

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A haunting, intimate account of the women and men who built a feminist revolution in the middle of the Arab Spring.

Introducing a powerful new voice, a writer whose searchingly beautiful, spare prose cuts to the core of a story ever more urgent and relevant: of women’s resistance when all else has failed.

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Kristen Ghodsee tells the story of the personal challenges faced by earlier generations of radicals.

Always walking a fine line between the need for class solidarity and the desire to force their sometimes callous male colleagues to take women’s issues seriously, these women pursued novel solutions with many lessons for those who might follow in their footsteps.

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An urgent collection on the struggle to provide abortions across the Americas, and how we can rebuild a fighting movement for reproductive justice.

This collection describes what a fighting movement for reproductive justice could look like - one that fights for the right to parent as we wish or not parent at all, and rejects the criminalization of anyone’s body.

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The work of love is a feminist problem, and it demands feminist solutions.

Drawing on the thought of the feminist movement Wages for Housework, Gotby demonstrates that emotion is a key element of capitalist reproduction!

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We need feminist manifestos in all their urgent rawness—their bleeding edge of rage and defiance ignites new and revolutionary possibilities.

The manifesto—raging and wanting, quarreling and provoking—has always played a central role in feminism, and it’s the angry, brash feminism we need now. In this landmark collection spanning three centuries and four waves of feminist activism and writing, Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge.

Collecting over seventy-five manifestos from around the world, including:

  • “Dyke Manifesto” by the Lesbian Avengers
  • “The Ax Tampax Poem Feministo” by the Bloodsisters Project
  • “The Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft” by Peter Grey
  • “Simone de Beauvoir’s pro-abortion Manifesto of the 343
  • “Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female” by Frances M. Beal
  • “The Futurist Manifesto of Lust” by Valentine de Saint-Point
  • “Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Laws”
  • “Riot Grrrl Manifesto” by Bikini Kill
  • “Anarchy and the Sex Question” by Emma Goldman

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As sex workers face increasing legal threats and decreased safety, this book is more urgent than ever before.

In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.

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From three of the organizers of the International Women’s Strike: a manifesto for when “leaning in” is not enough.

Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.

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A powerful narrative of Black womens' lives in Britain.

The Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting their day-to-day struggles, their experiences of education, work and health care, and the personal and political struggles they have waged to preserve a sense of identity and community. First published in 1985 and winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize that year, The Heart of the Race is a testimony to the collective experience of black women in Britain, and their relationship to the British state throughout its long history of slavery, empire and colonialism.

This new edition includes a foreword by Lola Okolosie and an interview with the authors, chaired by Heidi Safia Mirza, focusing on the impact of their book since publication and its continuing relevance today.

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An unprecedented collection of feminist voices from four millennia of global history.

Throughout written history and across the world, women have protested the restrictions of gender and the limitations placed on women’s bodies and women’s lives. People—of any and no gender—have protested and theorised, penned manifestos and written poetry and songs, testified and lobbied, gone on strike and fomented revolution, quietly demanded that there is an “I” and loudly proclaimed that there is a “we.” The Verso Book of Feminism chronicles this history of defiance and tracks it around the world as it develops into a multivocal and unabashed force.

See our complete socialist feminist reading list here.

Set Fear on Fire
After the feminist art collective LASTESIS created their performance "A Rapist in Your Path" in their native Chile, it went viral across the globe, becoming the anthem of the grassroots feminist mo...
Radius
In 2012, the joyful hopes of the democratic Egyptian Revolution were tempered by revelations of mass sexual assault in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the revolution’s symbolic birthplace. This is the sto...
Red Valkyries
Through a series of lively and accessible biographical essays, Red Valkyries explores the history of socialist feminism century Eastern Europe. By examining the revolutionary careers of five promi...
They Call It Love
They Call It Love investigates the work that makes a haven in a heartless world, examining who performs this labour, how it is organised, and how it might change. Drawing on the thought of the femi...
Burn It Down!
Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge. Collecting over seventy-five manifestos from around the world, Burn It Down! is a rallying cry and a call to acti...
Revolting Prostitutes
How the law harms sex workers - and what they want insteadDo you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justi...
Feminism for the 99%
Unaffordable housing, poverty wages, healthcare, climate change, border policing; not the issues you ordinarily hear feminists talking about. But don’t these issues impact the vast majority of wome...
Heart Of The Race

Heart Of The Race

Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting...
The Verso Book of Feminism
Throughout written history and across the world, women have protested the restrictions of gender and the limitations placed on women’s bodies and women’s lives. People—of any and no gender—have pro...

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