We are devouring Scarlett Curtis’s new book: Feminists Don’t Wear Pink & Other Lies. It’s a collection of essays by 52 women on what feminism means to them. In her words, “I made this book for my 15-year-old self.” So we asked the activist and writer to tell us more about it and recommend her top five feminist books.
In the 1970s, the phrase ‘CLICK moment’ became widely used to describe the moment when a woman or girl stumbled across their feminist awakening. I like using this phrase in the context of modern feminism as I think, for so many young women today, their ‘click’ moments happen on the internet where a wealth of feminist dialogue and interpretation is simply a ‘click’ away. Despite the growing online bubble of feminist talk, my own feminist awakening came about through reading books. I love the internet but I find the mass amount of feminist thought out there a little bit overwhelming at times. As soon as I’ve read something I agree with I will click on a completely opposing opinion and find myself agreeing with that too. Then I fall into an endless wormhole of fighting and agreeing and liking and hash-tagging.
There’s something beautiful about the sanctity of feminist writing that is held within the pages of a book. It pulls its reader toward a quiet moment on a Sunday, where one can sit and lounge for hours with a highlighter and a brand new book and work their way through the pages without being interrupted by the madness of online activity.
My feminist reading began at around 16 and since then I have taken a four-year degree in women’s social movements and collected a hefty bookshelf of books that I love, hate, and love to hate.
For the past year and a half I’ve been attempting to create something that might earn it’s own place on this shelf. I could never have written a feminist book on my own, so this book is a collection of essays by 52 women on what feminism means to them. It’s called Feminists Don’t Wear Pink & other lies and its contributors range from activists (Dr. Alaa Murabit, Trisha Shetty, Emi Mahmoud) to Hollywood actresses (Keira Knightley, Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan) to fictional characters (Bridget Jones!). I also include ten teenage girls, all of whom understand feminism and activism in a way that is innate and natural and wonderful. All the royalties are gong to an incredible charity called Girl Up and while the book is by no means perfect I’m hoping it’s worthy of its place next to some of my other favourite feminist texts.
If you buy the book, I hope you like it and I hope it might encourage you to take your feminist reading further. Below are five of my favourite feminist books (Feminists Don’t Wear Pink not included).
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The first book on feminism I ever read (I didn’t know there were any others!) and still a complete masterpiece. It’s a fascinating insight into early 20th century women and also in some ways entirely timeless.
This Bridge Called My Back curated by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
An incredible feminist anthology and one of the major inspirations for Feminists Don’t Wear Pink. A collection of writing by 31 women of colour and one of the leading texts in the intersectional feminist movement of the 1980s.
Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
This 2015 book by journalist Mona Eltahawy was my first deep introduction to Muslim feminism, which is topic that is far too often misunderstood and appropriated by white women. The book touches on both misogyny in the Arab world and also the West’s misunderstanding of Muslim feminism. It’s a tough but brilliant read.
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
”Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” this quote by hooks continues to be my primary definition of feminism to this day and her book of essays Feminism is for Everybody is an incredible example of hook’s unparalleled skill at translating the true goals of the feminist movement. Buy this one for the men in your life and keep your eye on them to make sure they read it!
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
A less academic offering by feminist superhero Gloria Steinem, this book was one of the first things that made me want to commit my life to activism. Written in the style of a memoir it spans Steinem’s life of campaigning and if you weren’t already a fan of the 84-year-old wonder women then this book will make you one.