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Reading List

10 Books to Read on International Women's Day

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-
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

Prior 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.

The incendiary French feminist work that defined ecofeminism—now available for the first time in English. 

Originally published in French in 1974, radical feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne surveyed women’s status around the globe, proposing a politics of ecofeminism. As d’Eaubonne prophesied, “The planet placed in the feminine will flourish for all.” This new edition includes an introduction from scholars of ecology and feminism situating d’Eaubonne’s work within current feminist theory, environmental justice organising, and anticolonial feminism. 

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

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.

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.

A timely re-issue of the groundbreaking manifesto for feminist architecture.

Making Space is a pioneering work first published in 1984 which challenges us to look at how the built environment impacts on women’s lives. It exposes the sexist assumptions on gender and sexuality that have a fundamental impact on the way buildings are designed and our cities are planned.

Written collaboratively by the feminist collective Matrix, the book provide a full blown critique of the patriarchal built environment both in the home and in public space, and outline alternative forms of practice that are still relevant today. Making Space remains a path breaking book pointing to possibilities of a feminist future.

Feminist City is an ongoing experiment in living differently, living better, and living more justly in an urban world.

In Feminist City, through history, personal experience and popular culture Leslie Kern exposes what is hidden in plain sight: the social inequalities built into our cities, homes, and neighborhoods. Kern offers an alternative vision of the feminist city. Taking on fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, and the joys and perils of being alone, Kern maps the city from new vantage points, laying out an intersectional feminist approach to urban histories and proposes that the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping a new urban future. It is time to dismantle what we take for granted about cities and to ask how we can build more just, sustainable, and women-friendly cities together.

Charts the history of women’s liberation and calls for a revitalized feminism.

Second Wave feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a decline in its utopian energies and the rise of neoliberalism. Now, foreseeing a revival in the movement, Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis.

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.

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.

A founding text of transnational feminism.

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.

Journalist and human rights activist Rafia Zakaria’s foreword to this new edition is an impassioned letter in two parts: the first to Western feminists; the second to feminists in the Global South, entreating them to use this “compendium of female courage” as a bridge between women of different nations.

See our complete socialist feminist reading list here.