Book list for women’s rights

century-of-struggle11On a late night thread, the discussion turned to books about women’s rights and politics. Here are my recommendations.  I am also emailing this list to the person who wants to stock their bookshelf.   A lot of the books are from the 60’s.

For books, I remember two classics from the 60’s: Sisterhood is Powerful, an anthology, and Century of Struggle about winning the vote (you can’t even say “suffrage” any more because they don’t know what that means) and there’s a lot in there about women in trade unions too.

Here is the Amazon review for Sisterhood is Powerful, ed. Robin Morgan with the red fist on the cover. Out of print and there are several more modern ones by Morgan, but I don’t know anything about them to recommend or not.

This was the eye-opening book, the manifesto, the “click” that happened when you suddenly saw your situation from the outside and realized the deck was stacked. It was divided into sections by topic, politics, psychology, sexuality, lesbians…so you could start with something you were interested in and work into the other stuff that was more difficult or controversial later.  This is probably really dated, birth control was new at the time, but it was a classic.

I don’t know that I’m recommending (since it’s out of print) so much as putting it out there for discussion since it was so influential.

Here is Century of Struggle, the history of the battle for the vote by Eleanor Flexner. The version I read was much older with a different cover. For me this is required reading and I see someone else reviewed it by saying “required reading” too. I would worry that it isn’t dumbed down enough for today’s crowd though. At least this one has stayed in print. Nice index too.

I am reminded of what the African Americans I used to work with used to say, “No one gives you your rights voluntarily–you have to take them.”

Of course you want The Feminist Papers, ed. Alice Rossi. Not exactly readable but has all the documents from Abagail Adams to Mary Wollstonecraft to British feminists and a description of Seneca Falls Convention.  If you need to quote something historical, this is the reference to have:

I don’t know if anyone is looking for religion/goddess type historical stuff but I love Barbara G. Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.  At first glance this one looks like it’s way out there, and you say to yourself, “Oh I have that reference and what she’s saying just isn’t in there”, then you pull your copy off the shelf to make sure and it’s in there all right–down in a foot note–you just never connected the dots.

In a similar vein but not as comprehensive, is Merlin Stone’s When God was a Woman with some archaeological conjecture—lots of biblical references to ancient goddesses too. Still, I enjoyed reading it– since you won’t hear that sort of evidence from male archaeologists.

Also, textbooks on Public Administration and maybe Personnel often have sections on women, especially in light of legal changes for those who have to follow the law in hiring practices (hostile workplace environment, anyone?) without necessarily having a law background.  Sometimes there’s a rather interesting philosophical/theoretical discussion that goes with it.

Have fun.

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