It’s summertime, and in 2021, it’s a summer like no other. Blazing hot weather is upon us, making us find innovative ways to keep cool (stay hydrated y’all!). Second doses of COVID-19 vaccines are already out for people above 12+ eligible to receive them. And of course, there’s a lot going in our lives, in our communities, and in the world that demands our attention.
Whatever your current circumstance is, you can still make this summer your Hot Girl Summer. The summer anthem is all about women empowerment, and there’s never been a more urgent time than this to feel empowered and to empower others.
14 Feminist Books to Read This Summer
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. The Poet X is the debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo and Women Empowering Women Book Club’s Summer 2021 Pick! I’ll be covering the club’s discussions of this novel, so get your copy now and stay tuned for updates!
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa (Editors)
This groundbreaking collection reflects an uncompromised definition of feminism by women of color. Through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art, the collection explores, as coeditor Cherríe Moraga writes, “the complex confluence of identities—race, class, gender, and sexuality—systemic to women of color oppression and liberation.”
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks
Acclaimed cultural critic bell hooks offers an open-hearted and welcoming vision of gender, sexuality, and society in this inspiring and accessible volume. In an engaging and provocative style, bell hooks introduces a popular theory of feminism rooted in common sense and the wisdom of experience. Hers is a vision of a beloved community that appeals to all those committed to equality, mutual respect, and justice.
Making Space for Indigenous Feminism by Joyce Green (Editor)
This book is by and about Indigenous feminists, whose work demonstrates a powerful and original intellectual and political contribution demonstrating that feminism has much to offer Indigenous women in their struggles against oppression and for equality.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde’s intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status.
Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism by Bushra Rehman and Daisy Hernández (Editors)
It has been decades since women of color first turned feminism upside down, exposing the ‘70s feminist movement as exclusive, white, and unaware of the concerns and issues of women of color from around the globe. Now a new generation of brilliant, outspoken women of color is speaking to the concerns of a new feminism, and their place in it.
We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.
Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn RoussoIn
Her empowering and at times confrontational memoir, Don’t Call Me Inspirational, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability–not overcoming disability. She addresses the often absurd and ignorant attitudes of strangers, friends, and family.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein
Part coming-of-age story, part mind-altering manifesto on gender and sexuality, coming directly to you from the life experiences of a trans woman, Gender Outlaw breaks all the rules and leaves the reader forever changed.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighbourhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
Living A Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed
In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism.
This Is How We Come Back Stronger: Feminist Writers on Turning Crisis into Change by The Feminist Book Society
In essays, short fiction, poetry, and more, writers respond to the personal and the political in the time of pandemic. Marking the one-year anniversary of lockdown in the US and the UK, these pieces consider where we go from here—and remind us that, despite it all, we are not alone.
6 Feminist Podcasts to Listen to This Summer
2 Crees in a Pod, unapologetically creates space for Indigenous resurgence. Their intention is to disrupt western colonial systems and honour Indigenous helping practices and storytelling.
Join comedian Deborah Frances-White for her comedy podcast, recorded in front of a live audience. Each week Deborah and her special guests discuss topics “all 21st-century feminists agree on” while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles.
On I Weigh, Jameela Jamil challenges society’s definition of worth through weight by asking different thought-leaders, performers, activists, influencers, and friends about how they are working through their past shames to find where their value truly lies. With hilarious and vulnerable conversations, I Weigh will amplify and empower diverse voices in an accessible way to celebrate progress, not perfection.
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are funny. They’re Black. They’re BFFs. And they host a live comedy show in Brooklyn. Join the 2 Dope Queens, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel.
An uplifting podcast that is perfect to start your morning with, keep you company in the night, or to wind down your afternoon. Consisting of deep conversations covering everything from wellness, spirituality, mental health and learning, to thriving and living free from self-judgment. Whatever you’re seeking, this show encourages you to embrace your own sense of self-study and never stop learning.
The feminist sports podcast you need. Shireen Ahmed, Lindsay Gibbs, Brenda Elsey, Amira Rose Davis, and Jessica Luther break down the week in sports and culture.
12 Feminist TV Series to Watch This Summer
The complicated life of a modern-day first-generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood.
A comedy series adapted from the award-winning play about a young woman trying to cope with life in London whilst coming to terms with a recent tragedy.
The inspiring story of trailblazing African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker who built a haircare empire that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.
A narrative series set in the first all-Black women writer’s room (led by Lauren Ashley Smith), the first Black woman sketch.
Three suburban mothers suddenly find themselves in desperate circumstances and decide to stop playing it safe and risk everything to take their power back.
After a series of events, the lives of a security operative and an assassin become inextricably linked.
Four very different thirty-something working-mother friends try to balance their jobs, family lives, and love lives in modern-day Toronto, Canada.
The comedic story of middle school seen through the eyes of two 7th grade girls dealing with the awkwardness of being a teenager.
Follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.
Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.
The question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation.
This drama is about the conflicts, the wins, and the losses one experiences when working. It follows the story of 21st-century women, who chose to not be a wife or a mother and successfully work without discrimination or impediments.
Hopefully, you’ve found at least one thing from this list to make your Hot Girl Summer resourceful, educational, and empowering.
If you have a Feminist Book, Podcast, or TV Series recommendation that isn’t covered in this list, please comment below!