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5 Feminist Writers & Thinkers That You Really Need to Know 


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March 02, 2020 Angela Barnett

It can be hard to find feminist inspiration out there in the world. Not in the least because the internet is such a big jungle of opinion pieces, feminist-ing blogs and self-proclaimed thought leaders that it’s often incredibly hard to know where to start. 

There’s not a day that goes by without someone popping into your newsfeed with their latest hot take feminist rant. So how do you sort the meh from the marvelous? The perceptive from the preachy? And the totally incomprehensible esoteric theoretical feministing from the ‘this works in the real world’ kinda buzz?

We’ve given you our top five women to read, watch and listen to in order to get you going out there. 

1. Roxanne Gay

A modern day legend, Roxanne Gay’s 2014 hilarious, brutally honest essay collection ‘Bad Feminist’ pretty much set the tone for the decade. If you’re someone who’s wrestled with the questions, “Am I a feminist if I like this un-feminist thing…” then she is your girl. Candid, heartbreaking and fiercely smart, she skewers the complexity and contradictions of being a modern day feminist and always manages to ground it in what that means in the real, everyday world. 

Must Watch.

2. Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is kinda like your cool Aunt, the one who gives you the advice on drinking, drugs and boys that’s actually useful. She’s messy, honest and incredibly skilled at opening doors with her elbows while holding four Martini glasses. She’s a weekly columnist for The Sunday Times, where she tackles everyday feminist issues with the kind of down to earth, unfiltered candour that makes you snort with laughter while thinking, “oh my god, me too!” And her two novels “How to build a girl” and “How to build a woman” are the perfect, laid back yet incisive starting points for anyone looking to dip their toe into feminist-y waters. 

Must read.

3. Laurie Penny 

If Caitlin Moran is the cool sloppy Aunt, Laurie Penny is the chain smoking, all black wearing, coffee sipping, impossibly cool older cousin of yours who always has something sarcastic yet bitingly insightful to say. She tackles everything with the kind of ruthless honesty that makes you suck your breath in through your teeth. From critiquing wellness culture as a neoliberal parasite, to laying out the case why you should be single in your 20s with devastating accuracy, she’s feminism for a thinking, sassy, slightly sceptical woman who wants to know the story from every, unflinching angle.   

Must read. 

4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Even Beyonce bows down to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bey sampled her TedX Talk in the song ***Flawless. But that’s just the beginning of her greatness. Begin with reading her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, the bite sized introduction designed to the casually interested through the principles of just exactly why this feminist shit is so important. But then make sure you move on to her piercing literature, such as the breathtakingly powerful ‘That Thing Around Your Neck’ a collection of short stories weaving together her experiences on gender politics, power, her Nigerian background and intersectional feminism. 

Must Watch.

5. Verity Johnson 

Our very own youth ambassador at the YWCA, Verity isn’t exactly the global superstars the above feminist thinkers are, but she is one of NZ’s funniest, freshest female feminist writers & thinkers. She’s a columnist for the The Dominion Post and Stuff, TV presenter and radio host, who specialises in writing about everyday feminist dilemnas with a special interest in younger women. Writing one everything from why you should stop ‘fixing up’ your boyfriends, to the changes in abortion law, to why Lime scooters are feminist chariots, she’s your perfect entry point for hilarious, honest and relatable feminist-ing. 

Must Read.

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