What does it mean to be a feminist? Does it simply mean a belief in equality or are we supposed to sign up to a whole lot of rules too?
Here are 10 books that have played a part in my own journey of working out what being a feminist, and a person, means to me. This isn’t a definitive or exhaustive list and on a different day, I’d pick a different combination, but these books have educated, inspired, reassured and challenged me and some of them have made me laugh or been of real practical help.
I don’t agree with every word in every book, but they have all made me think. I love Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, which reminds us that trying to always be good, or thinking that must always agree with each other, is yet another trap we fall into. I’m happy to follow her lead and accept that being a bad feminist is better than being no feminist at all.
It’s a complicated business being alive in the modern world. It has never been easier to express and find opinion, but sometimes all that noise makes it difficult to remember the basics of what we believe and who we are. When I want to ground myself I head for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All be Feminists, which breathes compassion and humanity and suggests that a feminist is anyone who sees that there is a problem with the way we perceive gender and wants to get on with fixing it.
As Adichie says, we should all try to dream of and plan for a different, happier world.