The Witches Are Coming For You: Recent Feminist Essay Collections

If you follow this blog at all (and no shame if you do not) you have probably deduced that I am a feminist. So, with that on the table, allow me to recommend Lindy West's book of essays The Witches Are Coming. West, in her opening essay, assails the idea conservatives (particularly Donald Trump) are victims of a "witch hunt" and instead, the real witches are untying their own hands, leaping down from the stake and grabbing flaming brands to defend themselves. This is all done with West's trademark sardonic (and profane) humor. Of course, the part I thought was funniest was her description of her attempt to replicate the recipes in Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, which will have anyone who has tried a recipe and failed rolling on the floor. Not only does West take on Goop, but white male mediocrity, the stigma of abortion, and both-sidesism. If you like The Witches Are Coming, I have some more books for you.

Lindy West wrote a previous best seller, Shrill. This is a more personal book, dealing with West's emergence as a feminist and writer. She deals with subjects as diverse as fat acceptance and surfing the net while female. Despite online harassment (rape jokes, threats, and a guy who trolled her using the persona of her late, beloved father), West has managed to keep her senses of humor and adventure (to say nothing of her respect for her fellow human beings) in this conversational, witty book.

Quietly, adeptly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes her point that We Should All Be Feminists. Drawing from her own life and expanding the concept of feminism from being something just for white, middle-class women, Adichie points out that proponents of "human rights" often ignore gender. An expansion of her TED talk, Adichie pleas eloquently for the need to socialize both girls and boys in a more inclusive manner and to see that there is still much progress to be made.

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle traces the vilification of women who do not conform to patriarchal ideals in popular culture. From the ancient Greeks and Celts to modern true-crime tropes, Doyle shows how girls and women are portrayed as untrustworthy in culture high and low. While written in highly accessible prose, Doyle also has an extensive bibliography at the end of the book, should you feel the need to check her sources.

Rebecca Traister's Good and Mad celebrates the capacity of women's rage for change. Traister does a good job of illustrating how angry women (particularly African American women) are portrayed as crazy and unfeminine, e.g., Shirley Chisholm versus Bernie Sanders. However, this is a hopeful book, and Traister encourages women to revolt, both personally and collectively, and not to let up when things get only a little better.

"Defy, disobey, and disrupt," cries Mona Eltahawy in The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. Controversial, profane, and full of fury, Eltawahy's manifesto looks at misogyny around the world and says women must do things differently than what good girls are supposed to do. Every chapter about each necessary sin tells of what happens when it is embraced and the consequences when it is not. Highly motivational, this will get you out of your comfy chair and into the streets.

Rebecca Solnit's The Mother of All Questions is erudite, well-reasoned, and powerful. Solnit shows how patriarchy hurts everyone, including those who enforce it. Her main villain is the self-absorption and entitlement marketed to men and which women get the brunt of. Not all is lost however; there are men as well as women who fight against this deadening of empathy. Solnit once again proves that she is probably the smartest one in the room.

What books fuel your broomstick? Tell us in the comments.

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