If you were introducing a new friend to heavy music, you probably wouldn’t force them to trawl through the entire Iron Maiden back-catalogue – you’d probably show them a few all-time favourites, and then, over-excitedly, a bunch of albums that you’re loving right now, which will in some way have built on all the good shit that’s come before. And that’s basically what I’ve done here, except with feminist books.
Of course, you could literally just take your new friend to a gig, and feminism is also best experienced live: in meetings, conversations, relationships, demos and direct actions. I actually don’t think you need to read anything to get started. But books, like albums, are there for you when the action ends and you want to make sense of what you’ve experienced, or equally to give you an idea of what might be coming up. They guide us and hold us through difficult and formative parts of our lives, and are something we can keep coming back to when we need them.
That’s about where this increasingly tenuous comparison ends, because the stakes surrounding feminism are a hell of a lot higher than heavy music. Heavy music may well have saved your life but feminism is out to save – and arguably avenge – a hell of a lot more.
In the face of relentless gender-based violence and increasing attacks on our bodily autonomy, we need all hands on deck. My current top 10 will give you a bunch of ideas what to do once you’re there.