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55 responses to “A feminist bookclub?”

  1. Creature of habitus

    As a learner I cannot comment on whether any should be removed from the list but a feminist writer I have learnt much from is Kathryn Pyne Addelson. Her book Moral Passages is an excellent discussion of feminist actions over the past 100 years combined with an alternative moral theory to rethink how we might do our work in the world. Joan Tronto’s book Moral boundaries is very good also.

    Looking forward to more suggestions and recommendations.

  2. Sophie Starfish

    Yes Means Yes by Valenti and Friedman, for…third wave I guess? I own a copy but haven’t got to it yet.

  3. Dylan

    Hi Cristy.
    That first wave list is very Anglo/Aus. Flora Tristan is my fave French feminist from the early 1800s. Could be worth a look.

  4. Pavlov's Cat

    I’d remove Sheila Jeffreys, not so much because she is frustrating but also because she really isn’t very good IMO.

    Will have a think about adding. I note you don’t have any of the French feminists from second-wave — Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray. They are kind of difficult, and they focus more on psychoanalytic approaches, but it’s fascinating stuff and definitely part of the history.

    Also, for defnit, Julia Kristeva, whose work also comes out of psychoanalysis and whose feminism intersects with other stuff.

    If you want something a bit easier just now and then, you could also chuck in some of the feminist fiction writers — Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter et al.

  5. Paul Norton

    Two suggestions. Anything written by Carole Pateman, and Taking the Revolution Home by Joyce Stevens. I’ll also have a look at the bibliographies of my gender studies essays from 1995-96 that I unearthed on the weekend.

  6. Helen

    The book which impressed me the most last year (and I still haven’t found a better one) is Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender, which is about the current craze for EvPsych and neurononsense (theories of neurological “hardwiring” extrapolated wildly from studies too thin to support them) which have been so popular in fostering a new essentialism.
    I recommend Fine not only for her encyclopaedic knowledge of what she’s talking about – she’s a scientist herself – but she is wickedly funny as well. I recommend this one highly, it’s in the libraries so easily available but do buy your own copy if you can afford it, it’s worth it.

  7. Helen

    Damned Whores and God’s Police by Anne Summers is out of print as I found to my sorrow when I went to try and buy a copy. Boo publishing industry! Perhaps her memoir Ducks on the Pond or her recent books The End of Equality or The Misogyny Factor.

  8. FDB

    If you want something a bit easier just now and then, you could also chuck in some of the feminist fiction writers — Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter et al.

    My thoughts exactly Dr. Cat.

    Atwood especially.

    And Helen – I’ll certainly chase up Fine. I think laughing at EvPsych must be hardwired in my genes.

  9. Paul Norton

    Cristy @4, Joyce Stevens is the author of the famous “Because we’re women…” poster text that I shared on FB on the weekend.

  10. myriad74

    I would throw in off the top of my head:

    Talking up to White Women on whiteness and Australian feminism

    Some Dale Spender on women’s / feminist history

    Nickel and Dimed – – Ehrenreich

    Audre Lorde, at the very least her pivotal essay “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”

  11. Robbo

    Groan. Why start from theory? Of necessity this will narrow the pool of participants. Fiction would be more interesting to explore, more real, pertinent and inclusive. If it’s to be theory then ideas should be the starting point, regardless of who extrapolated on or developed them. Names should be secondary, ideas primary, and their evolution.

  12. Paul Norton

    Another couple of suggestions:

    Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright, Beyond the Fragments.

    Laurie Adkin, The Politics of Sustainable Development: Citizens, Unions and the Corporations.

  13. lauredhel

    The Rejected Body, Susan Wendell

  14. Liz

    The most important book to me when I was growing up was ‘A Room of One’s own’ by Virginia Woolf. Very old school, but great and accessible.

    I’d love to see some Indigenous feminists there. Anyone with any ideas?

    A good intro to Kristeva, Iragaray and Le Doeuff is ‘Sexual Subversions’ by Elizabeth Grosz.

  15. Helen

    Sally Morgan’s My Place perhaps?

  16. myriad74

    Liz, Talking Up to White Women is very much that.

  17. Liz

    Sounds great myriad74.

  18. Sophie

    What about Marilyn French?

    I get that Jeffries is frustrating but I think her self mutilation writing is a good starting point for understanding radical feminism… I find her very exclusive but her work helped me collect my thoughts when I first started being interested in feminism.

  19. Genevieve

    I’ve been reading Irigaray for the last 2 years, not at all proficient but would love to include her. Can I also suggest that certain chapters be recommended for those of us who are busy, have other research, etc. this way the conversation could really flourish, and we can always read further. Perhaps those of us who are more familiar with a text could act as guides and mentors.

  20. alfred venison

    juliet mitchell? emma goldman? marie stopes? clara zetkin?

  21. Siobhan

    I’d like to include some Italian writers, but I have none to suggest atm.
    I’re really like to read Damned Whores. Perhaps we could ask Summers to allow us to create an e-version?

  22. Pavlov's Cat

    Seconded A Room of One’s Own, and I’d throw in Three Guineas while you’re about it.

  23. adam

    Le Doeuff is excellent, and not at all like Irigaray, Cixous or Kristeva. Have Arlie Russell Hochschild, Joan Scott, Mary Daly, Gayle Rubin (and all of the classic Toward an Anthropology of Women collection), Starhawk, Gloria Anzaldúa, or Meaghan Morris been mentioned? Varying degrees of accessibility there, but all very good.

  24. faustusnotes

    As someone who has worked in fields related to sex work and public health, I would say drop Sheila Jeffreys and Catherine Mckinnon. Their work is poorly researched, often misleading, dishonest and deceptive. It should be replaced with something decent on the practical experience of sex workers – anything by Roberta Perkins is a good start. this is a particularly rich area for a book club that wants to include Australian feminists because Australian feminism has been much more forward thinking and practical on this topic than have some other countries (e.g. the prissy anti-sex movement from America). I think Dworkin is also completely wrong about sex and pr0n, but her work has a stronger theoretical underpinning and as far as I can tell books like Intercourse are not based on shoddy research.

    Jeffreys work on transgender issues and B&D is also rich with misogyny, hatred and bigotry, and didn’t she write that famous nasty poem about sadomasochism?

    I also wonder if there is perhaps some Asian feminism that could be found on this issue – perhaps there are Asian perspectives on sex work that could be informative.

    Even though it’s perhaps not entirely consistent with modern racial politics, I think Katherine Susannah Pritchards’s work is quite interesting. Brumby Innes is hard going but I was quite touched by Coonardoo. Maybe I’m misremembering its positions, though.

    And where is the SCUM Manifesto!?

  25. Linda

    Thanks Cristy

    I would recommend:

    Susan Brownmiller – Against our will: men women and rape
    Kathleen Barry – Female sexual slavery
    Susan Faludi – Backlash
    Marilyn French- The war against women
    Betty McLellan – Unspeakable

    An interesting read is Gloria Steinem’s essay on the time she spent working under cover as a Playboy waitress.

    I also second the suggestions of Dale Spender (Women of Ideas: and what men have done to them), and Anne Summers’ “Damned whores and god’s police”, both highly relevant in the current political climate with the clear messages Australian women are receiving about their status, based on the treatment we have seen our first woman PM subjected to.

    I know Damned whores is out of print but it should be available at most libraries.

    As far as fictional works go Suzy McKee’s “the Holdfast Chronicles” is unbeatable. Also The Carhullan Army by Sarah (can’t think).

  26. alfred venison

    greer, “the obstacle race: the fortunes of women painters & their work”

  27. akn

    Oh. Jean Curthoys, I’d suggest:

    “Her 1997 book, Feminist Amnesia, accuses later academic feminist theory of abandoning the liberation theory of the 1960s for an intellectually and morally sterile careerism.”

    And definitely Bell Hooks!

  28. alfred venison

    susan mcclary, “feminine endings: music, gender & sexuality”

  29. Linda

    akn- it’s bell hooks, no capitals. What is it you particularly recommend about her works?

  30. akn

    Thanks for the correction Linda. What I really like about bell hooks is that she has engaged with Buddhism and teaches that liberation is as at least as much, if not more, a matter of mind state, ie, approach to the self in the world, as it is about effecting change in the world.

    My attempts to link to her interview in Tricycle have failed … however …


    Crude as it is this link explains it all.

  31. Cristy

    Lots of great suggestions thanks. Obviously what ends up being read will reflect the interests of the group. It’s a book club, not a uni course so we’re not attempting to create a cannon here.

  32. akn

    And thank you Cristy for such boldness as to suggest a feminist reading group. Feminism is absolutely the leading edge of human liberation.

  33. Paul Norton

    In terms of authors not to include, I’d also nominate Renate Klein. Given that her recent positions on women’s reproductive rights – that have aligned her with the anti-feminist, anti-choice right – can be considered the logical conclusions of some of the key assumptions of the FINRRAGE tendency, some caution may also be in order regarding other authors from that quarter.

  34. hannah's dad

    Include the works of Gerda Lerner perhaps?

  35. Moz

    Marilyn Waring “If Women Counted” / “Counting for Nothing: what men value and what women are worth” is a little dry but one of the core works of feminist economics. Wikipedia on the book and author are worth while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_Women_Counted and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Waring

    Looking back to the books that really influenced me when I was studying feminism at uni, “Closer To Home: Bisexuality & Feminism” is interesting but society has to some extent moved on (bisexuality is more widely known, if not accepted). Important, however, when dealing with feminism and non-normative sexuality.

    I’d like to second reading “Damned Whores…” and rejecting the sloppy nonsense of Sheila Jeffreys and Catherine Mckinnon unless we want to get into the mistakes of feminists past. Speaking of which, “On Conflict and Consensus” could be worth while as a followup to discussing second wave consciousness raising and the limitations thereof. It’s short but informative.

    And thank you all for not suggesting “GynEcology” 🙂

  36. paul burns

    Miriam Dixson, The Real Matilda.
    Quite some time ago, when it first came out I read a marvelous book by Greer on the history of birth control, but its been so lonh since I read it, I’ve forgot the title. Am sure some-one here will know it.

  37. Kelly

    Good suggestions so far. I thought I’d suggest some fiction:

    The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
    Les Guerilleres, Monique Wittig
    The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
    Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid (or her short story, Girl)
    The Longing, Candice Bruce

    I’m sure that’s enough to get started, though I’d love more recommendations from Australian authors 🙂

  38. Amanda Mack

    Great idea!! Making this suggested addition of a seminal work for me.

    Suggested addition – second wave reading list:
    ‘Woman’s Estate’ by Juliette Mitchell, 1971

  39. Amanda Mack

    Maxine Hong Kingston, ‘The Woman Warrior’ about the author’s experience as a child of Chinese immigrants in the USA, exploring what it is to be a woman in both cultures.

  40. paul walter

    No doubt.
    This is the atomising effect of pomo society, everyone gets edgier and looks after no 1, which is a Hobbesian trap.
    And driving it, pop consumerist marketing playing on a self-centreing, narcissistic component in human nature.
    Handmaid’s Tale, to me the missing sequel to 1984, or at least this generation’s rewrite, much closer than people think, in the USA with the Tea Party.
    And I’ve enjoyed Bel Hooks’ humanity, over the years.

  41. Russell

    “though I’d love more recommendations from Australian authors”

    Lo, even I have a good one to suggest then, certainly out of print, but do get Dorothy Hewett’s memoir “Wild Card” from a library – Google books says; ” Frank account of her first 35 years, detailing her revolt against sexual and political conventions” – a very good read.

  42. Russell

    And if you need a break from reading ‘hard’ books and want to let yourself go, there’s The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway

    Wikipedia summarises: “Conway writes about her teenage years in Sydney and especially her education at the University of Sydney, where university studies were open to women but the culture was focused heavily on the men. She described her intellectual development and her feelings realizing there is a bias against women, after being denied a traineeship at the Australian foreign service.”

  43. paul burns

    for fiction :Christina Stead. Everything she’s written.
    Also Doris Lessing – ditto

  44. Helen

    Russell @45 – is that the memoir which has been serialised on Radio National? It’s worth podcasting for anyone who hasn’t heard it, wonderful stuff.

  45. akn

    Marge Piercy – ‘Woman On the Edge of Time’; a brilliant exploration of the abuse of patriarchal power and mental illness.

  46. Liz

    Yes, to Christina Stead and Doris Lessing. Of course, Helen Garner is worth reading for any number of reasons.

  47. Russell

    Helen – apparently, yes. I never hear The Book Reading, so didn’t know it had been done last year. Dorothy Hewett was about the most scandalous person around in small town Perth, so I read it when it came out.

  48. Helen

    Book club or no book club, this is a fantastic list to take with me for the rest of this year’s trips to the library.

  49. gabrielle

    Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (new translation)
    Damned Whores & God’s Police / Anne Summers will shortly be available again as an ebook
    Room of Ones Own / Virginia Woolf…inspiring, ahead of her time, and a joy to read
    How To Be A Woman / Caitlin Moran…just to be in touch with young feminists and to enjoy the power of feminist humour (yes we do have a sense of humour)
    Feminism is for Everyone / bell hooks

  50. gabrielle

    oh and forgot to add Judith Butler

  51. Claire Madeleine

    I would love to be part of a feminist Book Club! 🙂

    I only just started writing my own survey of the feminist literature I have been reading, which can be found below


    So my contribution to the list would be the two non-Western authors I have read:

    Sex and the Citadel: Intimate life in a changing Arab World
    Shereen El Feki

    Unnatural Selection: Choosing boys over girls, and the consequences of a world full of men
    Mara Hvistendahl