In 2017, “nasty women,” a phrase Trump tried to use to insult Hillary Clinton, has been reclaimed by a legion of women as a calling card for strong female voices. And it is exactly a legion of strong voices that authors Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay have gathered together in their just-released anthology, Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America.
The collection contains essays from amazing writers like Nicole Chung, Jessica Valenti, Zerlina Maxwell, and so many more. The essays are unflinching in their gaze and honesty as they tackle racism, white feminism, and misogyny. We asked Samhita and Kate to give us a list of required reading for today’s nasty woman—a syllabus of nasty, if you will—and they compiled a list of books by the contributors to their anthology, along with a couple of other notable nasty women.
Go read these books, and buy Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America today!
You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano
From the moment we’re born, we’re told stories about what girls are and they aren’t, what girls want and what they don’t, what girls can be and what they can’t. “The girl” looms over us like a toxic cloud, permeating everything and confusing our sense of reality. In You Play the Girl, Carina Chocano shows how we metabolize the subtle, fragmented messages embedded in our everyday experience and how our identity is shaped by them.
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation. For the first time, Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Clinton takes you inside the experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle
From Mary Wollstonecraft—who, for decades after her death, was more famous for her illegitimate child and suicide attempts than for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—to Charlotte Brontë, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and even Hillary Clinton, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck dissects a centuries-old phenomenon and asks what it means now, in a time when we have unprecedented access to celebrities and civilians alike, and when women are pushing harder than ever against the boundaries of what it means to “behave.”
The H Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic
In The H-Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in-between women and happiness is a rigged system. If our laws and policies made women’s happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, Filipovic contends, many of our country’s most contentious political issues—from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending—would swiftly be resolved. Filipovic argues that it is more important than ever to prioritize women’s happiness—and that doing so will make men’s lives better, too. Here, she provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need and a blueprint for how policy, laws, and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.
Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
Every seven minutes, someone in America commits a rape. And whether that’s a football star, beloved celebrity, elected official, member of the clergy, or just an average Joe (or Joanna), there’s probably a community eager to make excuses for that person. Kate Harding combines in-depth research with an in-your-face voice to make the case that twenty-first-century America supports rapists more effectively than it supports victims. Drawing on real-world examples of what feminists call “rape culture,” Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we can take sexual violence much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, Blackout is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure—the sober life she never wanted. Shining a light into her blackouts, Sarah Hepola discovers the person she buried, as well as the confidence, intimacy, and creativity she once believed came only from a bottle.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette, detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms, she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.
Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe
We are witnessing a moment of unprecedented political turmoil and social activism. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the growth of the Tea Party, a twenty-first-century black freedom struggle with BlackLivesMatter, Occupy Wall Street, and the grassroots networks supporting presidential candidates in defiance of the traditional party elites. Sarah Jaffe leads readers into the heart of these movements, explaining what has made ordinary Americans become activists. As Jaffe argues, the financial crisis in 2008 was the spark, the moment that crystallized that something was wrong. For years, Jaffe crisscrossed the country, asking people what they were angry about, and what they were doing to take power back.
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
Jarrar’s stories grapple with love, loss, displacement, and survival in a collection that moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present. With humor, irony, and boundless imagination, Jarrar brings to life a memorable cast of characters, many of them “accidental transients”—a term for migratory birds who have gone astray—seeking their circuitous routes back home.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul
Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. Alongside personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.
Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
Long before she became one of the world’s most respected media figures and lauded leaders for equality and justice, Mock was a girl taking the time she needed to just be—to learn how to advocate for herself before becoming an advocate for others. Despite her disadvantages, fueled by her dreams and inimitable drive, Mock makes her way through New York City while holding her truth close. She builds a career in the highly competitive world of magazine publishing—within the unique context of being trans, a woman, and a person of color.
Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life by Samhita Mukhopadhyay
Outdated analyzes how different forms of media, cultural norms, family pressure, and even laws, are produced to scare women into believing that if they don’t devote themselves to finding a man, they’ll be doomed to a life of loneliness and shame. Using interviews with young women that are living around, between, within, and outside of the romantic industrial complex, Mukhopadhyay weaves a narrative of the alternative ways that women today have elected to live their lives, and in doing so offers a fresh, feminist look at an old topic: How do diverse, independent young women date happily and successfully—and outside of the box?
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
In this controversial and necessary book, Katha Pollitt reframes abortion as a common part of a woman’s reproductive life, one that should be accepted as a moral right with positive social implications. In clear, concise arguments, Pollitt takes on the personhood argument, reaffirms the priority of a woman’s life and health, and discusses why terminating a pregnancy can be a force for good for women, families, and society. By whole-heartedly defending abortion rights, Pollitt argues, we reclaim the lives and the rights of women and mothers.
Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré, and Alana Yu-lan Price (foreword by Nasty Woman contributor Alicia Garza)
What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous, and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police. Contributors include William C. Anderson, Candice Bernd, Aaron Cantú, Thandi Chimurenga, Ejeris Dixon, Adam Hudson, Victoria Law, Mike Ludwig, Sarah Macaraeg, and Roberto Rodriguez.
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
Acclaimed author Rebecca Solnit draws on her life as a writer and activist, on the events of our moment, on our deepest past, to argue for hope. Solnit reminds us of how changed the world has been by the activism of the past five decades. Offering a dazzling account of some of the least expected of those changes, she proposes a vision of cause-and-effect relations that provides new grounds for political engagement in the present.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of our own Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.