Feminist Literature: Where You Can Get Started

Guest writer: Saadia Peerzada

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The tendency to be repelled by or shy away from the term ‘feminism’ is largely born out of little to no exposure towards what it means. The word-of- mouth definitions of feminism adds to this vacuum. The most reliable and effective way to get to know it better is to immerse oneself in feminist literature, a rich body of work cutting across multiple genres. Here’s a list of 5 books you can get started with:

  1. A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf: In one of the most influential pieces of twentieth century feminist thought, Woolf explores the history of female writers through their societal and financial conditions in this extended essay. A short 172 page read, Woolf’s mastery over language and her jarring interventions make it an imperative piece in the genre of feminist literature.


“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”

2. The Beauty Myth, Naomi Woolf: The author analyses how normative standards of beauty act as shackles irrespective of outward political and financial emancipation of women. By projecting an unreachable image of the self, the beauty industry continues to enslave women. This seems vital for this capitalistic body as post industrial revolution times had women joining work forces instead of acting as objects or role players inside their homes. 


“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”

3.Diving into the Wreck, Adrienne Rich: Political poet Adrienne Rich explores the erasure of women from history in this collection of poetry. Speaking from a non-binary narrative, Rich digs into a past steeped in patriarchy, symbolised as a wreck, so that she can bring unwritten stories to the foreground. This is also an exploration of the self and the search for one’s role when society constantly strives to bury one’s truth.


“Nothing can be done but by inches. I write out my life hour by hour, word by word . . . imagining the existence of something uncreated this poem our lives.”

4.Aphrodite Made me do it, Trista Mateer: This book tells the personal story of self-care by weaving a feminist narrative of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure, as opposed to the misogynistic way she’s portrayed in classic Greek myths. A collection of prose and poetry, it moves from sadness to survival to battles that come with one’s family accepting one’s sexuality in a heteronormative world.


Regardless of whether you desire it, love is what sits at the core of the world. It is stronger than greed and hate and jealousy and pain. What brings us together will always be more powerful than what keeps us apart.”

5.Occulus,Sally Wen Mao: This collection of poetry sheds light on the many roles that women of colour are made to endure in order to survive a culture that tries to consume them.

“An East India Company, an opium trade,

a war, a treaty, a concession, an occupation,

a man parting the veil covering a woman’s

face, his nails prying her lips open.”


    Check out these books to get started on feminist literature and the many genres it cuts across. Further, start reading about women from your own culture, religion, ethnicity or sexuality who have broken social and political shackles to get to where they want. 


Saadia Peerzada is an English undergraduate at Ashoka University. She predominantly writes book reviews and recommendation articles. She has written for Poetry Nation, Kath Baath, Writing.ie and HerCampus Ashoka. 

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