Feminism and gender equality: what to read, watch and listen

Disney’s Queen of Katwe. Photo Credit: Edward Echwalu. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
Disney’s Queen of Katwe. Photo Credit: Edward Echwalu. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

Whether you're part of Women of Concern or are simply keen to get more clued up on feminist works out there, you've come to the right place. We've compiled a list of books, films and podcasts on the topics of feminism, female empowerment and gender equality.

To watch

Queen of Katwe

A biographical drama film directed by Mira Nair and written by William Wheeler, the film depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi, a girl living in Katwe, a slum of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Living in the slum of Katwe is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende's guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty. [Rotten Tomatoes]


Moxie film poster. Image: Netflix
Moxie film poster. Image: Netflix

Vivian, a seemingly shy 16-year-old, has always preferred to keep her head down and fly under the radar. But when the arrival of a new student forces her to examine the unchecked behaviour of her fellow students running rampant at her high school, Vivian realizes she's fed up. Inspired by her mother's rebellious past, Vivian anonymously publishes an underground magazine called Moxie to expose bias and wrongdoing in her high school and unexpectedly sparks a movement. Now at the centre of a revolution, Vivian begins to forge new friendships with other young women and allies, reaching across the divide of cliques and clubs as they learn to navigate the highs and lows of high school together. [IMDB]

A film about teenagers exposing sexism - what every girl needs to know.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios is a 1988 Spanish black comedy film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. 'Ataques de nervios' are culture-bound psychological phenomena during which the individual, most often female, displays dramatic outpouring of negative emotions, bodily gestures, occasional falling to the ground, and fainting, often in response to receiving disturbing news or witnessing or participating in an upsetting event. Historically, this condition has been associated with hysteria [Wiki].

According to Little White Lies, 'It’s about women who are caused to suffer by men and the ways – comic and tragic – in which they vent their anger.' Once to watch.

To read

'Women who run with the wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype'

Within every woman, there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. For though the gifts of wildish nature belong to us at birth, society's attempt to "civilize" us into rigid roles has muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, many from her own traditions, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman, and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine.

'We Should all be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

'We should all be feminists' book cover.
'We should all be feminists' book cover.

In this book, Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often-masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

'The Second Sex' by Simone de Beauvoir

The Second Sex is a 1949 book by the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, in which the author discusses the treatment of women throughout history. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months between 1946 and 1949. Liberation, she argues, entails challenging traditional perceptions of the social relationship between the sexes and, crucially, in achieving economic independence [Penguin].

Powerful quotes such as “...her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly" remain still to this day applicable to modern life and feminist discourse. 

'Silence of the Girls' by Pat Barker

This fantastic revision of The Illiad reframes the story through the voiceless women of war in a startlingly vivid novel with a powerful message about who tells stories and why it matters. Wrestling the epic drama of the Trojan War away from its usual male-centric gaze, The Silence of the Girls seeks out the other story, the women’s story, charting the journey of a sometime-queen across the chaos of history, seeking freedom and the right to be the author of her own story [Waterstones].

'Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and Other Lies): Amazing Women on what the F-word Means to Them'

A collection of writing from extraordinary women, from Hollywood actresses to teenage activists, each telling the story of their personal relationship with feminism, this book explores what it means to be a woman from every point of view. Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism.

'Girl, woman, other' by Bernadine Evaristo

'Girl, Woman, Other' book cover.
'Girl, Woman, Other' book cover.

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives of twelve very different people in Britain, predominantly female and black. Aged 19 to 93, they span a variety of cultural backgrounds, sexualities, classes and occupations as they tell the stories of themselves, their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

To listen

The Guilty Feminist

Deborah Frances-White from the Guilty Feminist
Deborah Frances-White from the Guilty Feminist

The Guilty Feminist is a feminist comedy podcast hosted by Deborah Frances-White. Created by Frances-White and Sofie Hagen in 2015, the podcast features guests on a panel to discuss topics on and related to feminism, and is recorded in front of a live audience.

Each podcast starts with the trope, “I’m a feminist, but …” and she and a rotating list of co-hosts go down their list of laugh-out-loud feminist fails. One example from Frances-White is: “I’m a feminist, but … one time when I was in a women’s rights march and popped into a department store to use the loo, I got distracted trying on face creams and when I came out, the march was gone.”

A Podcast of One’s Own with Julia Gillard

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard presents a podcast in her role as Chair of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership. In each episode, Julia leads a thoughtful but fun discussion with well-known female (and some male) leaders from the worlds of business, entertainment, media, sport and many more. By celebrating their stories and learning the lessons from their lives, the podcast gives us insight into what needs to be done so more women get to lead [Acast].

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