International women's day is fast approaching and to celebrate we have compiled a list of books to inform and inspire you. From introductions and theory to reflections and personal experience there should be something here for you. The foundation of a healthy feminism is to read widely and think deeply. These books will set you on the right track!
Mask Off - JJ Bola
Outspoken by Pluto This introduction to masculinity is a great place to start your journey. JJ covers many areas of men’s lives including the experiences of men of colour, LGBTQ men, and male refugees to create a broad image of how men are impacted by the patriarchy. This book encompasses love, sex, politics, mental health on a journey that will act a springboard into a deeper understanding of feminism. Read it and buy your mate a copy.
Feminism & Men - Nikki van der Gaag
Zed Books Ltd
What is men's position in the feminist story? Are men villains or victims? Whilst the answer is both and neither both genders are still seen in terms of these kinds of unhelpful categories and while feminist waves have ensured that in theory at least, many women are now able to do the things that used to be done only by men, the reality of how men are seen and see themselves has changed very little across the globe.
Descent of Man - Grayson Perry
Grayson uses stories from his own life to create a sympathetic image of men and their motivations whilst gently manoeuvring them towards an understanding of the systemic pressures that act on their lives. This is a great introduction to feminism for men and introduces many ideas, like gender as performance in a non-confrontational format.
For the Love of Men - Liz Plank
St. Martin's Press Liz Plank has written this book to answer some of the questions that might arise from the previous two, to guide us as we begin to have these conversations with our friends and families. She speaks to men from many different walks of life to understand their experiences and offer us some guidance on how to do the same with our loved ones.
Men’s Work - Paul Kivel
Hazelden Information & Educational Services
Paul Kivel turns the lens back on ourselves, on men, and starts asking the hard questions. He seeks to understand why we behave the way we do and to find a way to address it. He presents the socialisation of men as a key issue and asks us to reflect on our own lives and relationships with other men. Once you have committed to supporting women’s equality, this is an essential read and process for all men.
Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power - Lola Olufemi
Outspoken by Pluto
This analysis of power and feminism lite will make you ask yourself why you didn’t see it! If you’ve already started your journey and you’re dialled in to instagram this will take your critical perspective to the next level. Lola Olufemi offers incredible insight and asks the questions that others are unwilling to ask about consent, sex work, and Islamophobia. She shines a light on forgotten communities and challenges the grip of neoliberalism on all aspects of our lives. If you're looking to level up, then this is the book for you!
Pleasure Activism - adrienne maree brown
channelling some of the great thinkers of Black feminist thought adrienne maree brown asks us how we can make social justice the most pleasurable human experience. This collection of essays and conversations illustrates her politics of healing and happiness. There are contributions from many other writers and this diverse collection of voices gives another perspective of social justice, that it does not have to be all hard work!
Testosterone Rex - Cordelia Fine
There are many myths about gender and masculinity, but none is more pervasive than that of testosterone and its supposed power and significance to men. Cordelia Fine rattles through these myths at an alarming rate, shattering misunderstandings and falsehoods about testosterone’s role in men’s lives. If you want to be armed with knowledge when talking to your kids or when dealing with the bros at the gym, this is the one.
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love - bell hooks
Washington Square Press
An analysis of loving and being loved, bell hooks uses her famous candour and intellect to analyse the importance of building intimate relationships for men regardless of their race, sexual orientation or age. bell hooks believes that men can get in touch with themselves and that in itself is inspiring.
Turn This World Inside Out - Nora Samaran
"Violence is nurturance turned backwards.” This is the foundation of Nora Samaran's treatise on relationships and how to create a culture which is the opposite of rape culture. She suggests that by building community and accountability through different models of care we can dismantle systems of oppression. We have learnt a lot from this work, and our approach to men has a lot in common with Samaran's "Nurturance Culture."
King Kong Theory - Virginie Despentes
Once you’ve got through everything else in the list, then you can read this tour de force. Virginie Despentes is angry and it shows. In this collection of essays which chronicle her own experiences of sex work and rape, she talks candidly about her life and her feminism. She speaks honestly and for those of us frustrated by the slow pace of progress and the hypocrisy of societal norms it is as shocking as it is cathartic to channel Despentes' raw power. This is an eye-opening read and a manifesto for punk feminism.