Holigay Gift Guide 2013: Finicky Feminists Want Books, DVDs, and Even Some Tees


Ah, the holidays. A time for family, gift-giving, ignoring really ignorant comments from your older relatives, and fighting at the din- wait a minute. When did this shit get so complex?

Being a feminist can be really hard around the holidays, and so can being friends with one. What do you buy someone who fuels themselves only on the knowledge that the world is an inherently imbalanced structure built to take advantage of people made the most vulnerable by its constructs? How do you please someone who knows how to spell, pronounce, and distinguish the works of every single feminist scholar – and their names? And how the fuck do you shop for someone who is about as unique as a snowflake with ten times the brutal honesty?

I got you covered. From the beginners to the Silent Swig of Wine During “The Good Old Days” Conversation At Dessert, there’s an item that will fit in the stocking of your favorite feminist this year and live on in their hearts until the age of post-feminism. (Spoiler Alert: they’ll die first.) From books to documentaries to tee shirts, you’ll find that the Internet hath provided ample opportunities for feminists to learn and brag about what they’ve learned to each other this season.

For Readers

‘Tis the season to be totally antisocial in the car.


The Women’s Studies Set

A Little F’ed Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger
Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti
Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks
Feminism and Pop Culture by Andi Zeisler
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith Butler
The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure edited by Tristan Taormino, Constance Penley, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Mireille Miller-Young
Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive by Julia Serano
The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues by Angela Davis
Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards
Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio
The Book of Jezebel by Anna Holmes, Kate Harding, and Amanda Hess
The Riot Grrrl Collection by Lisa Darms (preface by Kathleen Hanna, introduction by Johanna Fateman!)
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein

Identities and Intersections

Dreaming of Baghdad by Haifa Zangana
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman
+ Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – A Biomythography by Audre Lorde
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua
The Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology


Interactive and/or Beautiful

The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas by Morgan Hastings
Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak
My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity by Kate Bornstein
+ Women by Susan Sontag and Annie Leibovitz
+ What You Really Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman



Seeing is Believing

Sometimes, you’re 19 and you watch a historical made-for-TV movie about Alice Paul and your life is never the same again.


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide
From The Back Of The Room
Free Angela & All Political Prisoners
Miss Representation
Makers: Women Who Make America
The Black Power Mixtape

People Being Themselves

Margaret Cho – Revolution
Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour

Historical Fiction

Iron Jawed Angels

Waiting to Exhale

Waiting to Exhale

The Rest

For the girl on the go, a Wonder Woman reusable cold cup. “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” gear always hits the spot for those of us who really do wanna wear it on our sleeves.


And for the rest of us: feminist finger puppets. Because those three words are all relevant to your life.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. I want all the books! Alas, my family will be very anti-getting me anything on this list. Ooooooh well, time to gift myself!

  2. Great suggestions! Here are a few books I recommend too:

    ‘BITCHfest Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine’ – A collection of articles from the first ten years of the magazine’s run.

    ‘Can’t Buy My Love How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel’ by Jean Kilbourne – Any of us who have ever taken a Women’s Studies class have seen at least one of Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly” films about gender in advertising. This book is a more thorough, just as interesting examination of the same topic.

    ‘Geisha: A Life’ by Mineko Iwasaki – Ms. Iwasaki was interviewed by Arthur Golden when he was doing research for his ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ book and she was so furious with his sensationalized, over-sexualized portrayal that she wrote her autobiography to set the record straight about what a Geisha is and what she does. It’s a fascinating look at a very misunderstood women-only space in society, filled with fiercely independent, dedicated artists.

    ‘Reality Bites Back: How Guilty Pleasure TV is Making Us Sexist, Shallow, and Socially Irresponsible’ by Jennifer L. Pozner – An important examination of one of the most profitable and inescapable elements of our culture at the moment.

  3. Those are some great books! I will have to look into them! Yall should look into:
    He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know – Jessica Valenti

    The Young Victoria
    Wendy and Lucy
    Sunshine Cleaning

  4. Women is my favorite book I own! I make all my friends look at it with me! It’s such an amazing book!

  5. I have the “Women” book! I found the paperback copy used & in super good condition. :) It’s amazing & fascinating & i haven’t looked through it in a while. There’s some that are really raw, & near the end some great diptychs of showgirls (-women?).

    The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas sounds fun~ haha.

  6. Instead of sending my mom an endless Amazon wishlist, I’m just going to link her here. I’ll obviously get The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas, right?

    • Also, (and Carmen I’m positive I’ve told you this before) my dad and brother are both named Carmen, so she’ll do anything you tell them, right?

    • I was thinking the same thing! My brother and his wife kept insisting on my sending them a Christmas list. They’re getting a link to this article instead.

    • it’s a great movie, except for that shit of giving Alice Paul a boyfriend. Talk about a WTF moment.

      also: “One Woman, One Vote” is an awesome PBS documentary along these lines and it gives much more info on African-American suffragettes and a mini bio of pretty much everybody. I suspect IJA relied on it heavily as source material.

  7. Wow, so many great books that I haven’t read yet. And props for adding the This Bridge Called My Back book on there. It’s one of my FAVORITES.

  8. So much love for Manifesta, This Bridge Called My Back, MissRep, and Makers. Wow, what a list. Thank you Carmen!

  9. This just makes me very sure that my list for my family will read: Amazon gift card. the end. cuz then I can get some of these awesome sounding books AND USE THE AUTOSTRADDLE AFFILIATE LINK. I have the distinct feeling trying to explain the affiliate link to my family will be harder than the actual coding of it was (and I know nothing about coding this stuff).

  10. I adore Bornstein’s work, she’s hilarious. Her “Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws” was pretty influential on me during my teens and her work always leaves me wanting to know more about *her*, she’s just an interesting person!

    Time to order some knowledge for unsuspecting recipients! Feminist Santa, awaaaaay~

Comments are closed.