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Reader request: Feminism 101 book recommendations for teens?

From my mailbox:

Hi! My step-sister’s 14th birthday is coming up and I’d really like to get her a feminism 101-ish book. She’s experiencing trouble at school (girl-hating, slut-shaming, sexism and pressure from boys, etc.) and I’d love for her to have feminism to turn to.

The only two feminist 101 books I know of are bell hook’s Feminism is for Everybody and Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism. While the former is a little too advanced for my step-sister (she’s quite sheltered), even though it’s quite short and simplified for bell hooks, the latter is not very intersectional at all. Do you have any other recommendations?

It’d be great to find a book written with intersectionality in mind which contains info on slut-shaming, body positivity, abortion rights, internalised misogyny, etc., which is easy to understand and digest for young girls who aren’t educated about things like privilege and oppression and class, etc.

Something written by a woman of colour is preferred and, while this is not a necessity, it would be great if the author were British or Australian (to help with the context and language). Failing this, do you think it would be a good idea to get her both Valenti’s and hook’s books, and have her read FFF first and FifE after? Sorry for the long question…thanks a lot for your time! Take care.

We have an existing thread on Top 5 Introductory Texts, but I feel most books on that list don’t quite fit the bill for a 14 year old girl’s first book on feminism, especially with the requested combination of intersectionality and simplicity. Thoughts, dear readers?

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4 comments on “Reader request: Feminism 101 book recommendations for teens?

  1. Not exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re willing to consider fiction, I got my first copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale at 15, and it was revolutionary for me. If you’re able to sit with her and discuss the issues that are raised, it could be the intro to feminism you’re looking for. (I also found Alice Walker to be extraordinarily helpful as an adolescent.) Good luck!

    • I wondered about fiction myself, Mcm. I keep hearing about great YA fiction out there, which could well end up being the most appropriate age-sensitive introduction, but I don’t have a title to recommend myself (I don’t read as much YA as I should, really).

  2. A feminist text for me at 11 years old was “The Girl who Owned a City” by OT Nelson. A post apocalyptic world where there are no adults and a girl founds her own safe city among chaos.

  3. When I was a teenager, my sister (who is 14 years older) got me Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes for my birthday (I forget which birthday–probably 16th). I didn’t know anything about feminism at the time, but there is a lot in the book on themes like not letting others or circumstances take away your self and your creativity. If she likes fairy tales and mythology, this could be a great book for her (and a good alternative to the “get married and live happily-ever-after” fairytales.)

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