Read Harder

Read Harder 2023 Task #19: Read A Nonfiction Book About Intersectional Feminism

It’s time for Read Harder Task #19, which means we’re deep in the Read Harder challenge list for this year already. How has your challenge planning been going? Are you one of those people who picks all of your books ahead of time or do you sort of make it up as you go?

I’m definitely a “make a TBR list at the beginning of the challenge” type person. So when I was trying to decide what nonfiction book about intersectional feminism I was going to read for this challenge, these are the ones that made the list for me. Some of these books have been on my TBR for years. Some of these are brand new to me. Some older classics, like This Bridge Called My Back, are books that definitely deserve a reread.

But let’s back up for a second. Maybe right now you’re asking, “What is intersectional feminism?” The term “intersectionality” comes from activist and professor KimberlĂ© Crenshaw and is defined as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

So with that in mind, all of the books on this list a confronting the intersectionality between being a woman while also being a part of other disadvantaged groups; for example, people of color, those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, just to name a few.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page, here’s a list of intersectional feminist nonfiction reads for your consideration.

this will be my undoing book cover

This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins

If you haven’t read This Will Be My Undoing yet, make this the one. Just saying. Jerkins’ collection of linked essays explore what it’s like to be a Black woman in contemporary culture. These essays give insightful commentary on pop culture, black history, misogyny, racism, the the problems with the predominantly white, mainstream version of feminism that marginalizes women of color.

trans memoir book cover

Trans by Juliet Jacques

In July 2012, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery at the age of 30. This memoir chronicles her journey to define herself and find her true identity in a world where gender politics is ever changing. Trans interweaves the personal with the political, exploring how liberal and feminist media reactions and responses to trans politics all while also tracing Jacques’ own road to self-discovery.

cover image of Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

As the subtitle suggests, Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism directly confronts mainstream feminism and points out all of the people and issues that the movement has traditionally left out. Kendall argues that food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. And yet the focus of the feminist movement is hardly ever about the basic survival of the many. Rather, it focuses on furthering the privileges of a few. How, Kendall asks, can everyone stand in solidarity with the feminist movement when women are being oppressed by other women?

Against White Feminism Cover

Against White Feminism by Rafia Zakaria

The face of feminism has long been upper middle class white women, who are seen as the “experts” of the feminist movement. In Against White Feminism, author Rafia Zakaria, an American Muslim woman, attorney, and political philosopher, calls for a reconstruction of feminism that focuses on women of color. In the face of white feminism’s long-standing connection to colonial, patriarchal, and white supremacist ideals, this book offers a counter-manifesto.

can we all be feminists book cover

Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie

Can We All Be Feminists? is an anthology of intersectional feminist essays by 17 writers from diverse backgrounds: Soofiya Andry, Gabrielle Bellot, Caitlin Cruz, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Brit Bennett, Evette Dionne, Aisha Gani, Afua Hirsch, Juliet Jacques, Wei Ming Kam, Mariya Karimjee, Eishar Kaur, Emer O’Toole, Frances Ryan, Zoé Samudzi, Charlotte Shane, and Selina Thompson. Despite each of these authors commitment to gender equality, they all struggle with feminism and the way it ignores other aspects of their identities, such as race, religion, sexuality, gender. Each essay seeks to answer the question: Can we all be feminists?

this bridge called my back book cover

This Bridge Called My Back edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

If you’re looking to read a classic book about intersectional feminism, This Bridge Called My Back is not to be missed. Originally released in 1981, this book is an anthology featuring several different perspectives from women of color through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art. Each work reflects on evolving definitions of feminism that are adapting to include the issues important to women of color in the United States and throughout the world.

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis book cover

Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis

Women, Race, & Class is another must-read classic for anyone looking to read more intersectional feminist works. Here, Civil Rights icon Angela Davis provides a thought-provoking history of how whiteness and privilege has influenced the social and political landscape of traditional feminism. Ultimately Davis argues that racist and classist biases continue to undermine the ambitions of the feminist movement, from the abolitionist movement to present day.

cover of The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Activist Sonya Renee Taylor believes that radical self-love has the power to change the world, and she’s showing readers how to find that self-love in her bestselling book The Body is Not an Apology. When we are able to set aside indoctrinated body shame, we are free to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies, such as racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia. 

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the intersectional feminist nonfiction out there, hopefully this will get you started on the path to finding the book that will work for your personal Read Harder Challenge! And if you want more ideas, here’s even more intersectional feminist nonfiction for your reading list. Good luck in the challenge this year, friends!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.