Female stars, they're just like us! And by "like us," I mean women unabashedly engaged in pop culture who also happen to love reading groundbreaking feminist writing. The days of airhead starlets uninterested in politics and social justice are long gone. Over the past few years, we've become accustomed to having some of the highest ranking female celebs also be some of the most vocal proponents of gender equality, and the way these ladies name drop influential feminist works would make a women's studies major quiver.
Although American celebrity culture still has its drawbacks (horribly unrealistic beauty standards, rampant materialism, ageism, racism, the list goes on), the fact that celebrity interviews now come with a side of feminism is a powerful step in the right direction. Not only is it awesome for avid readers of critical, queer, and feminist theory, but also for folks who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to influential feminist writers and the ideas and issues they give voice to. You don't need thousands of dollars in tuition to be an educated feminist: if you want to dig into some excellent pro-women works, look no further than these suggestions from your favorite pop stars and actresses. Here are five feminist reading recommendations straight from the perfect, pouty mouths of female celebrities.
1. Beyonce Recommends: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists
Beyonce's "Flawless" is iconic at this point, as is the speech by award-winning Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that she included in the track. Last year, Adichie adapted the text from her famous TEDxEuston talk about cross-cultural feminism and female power for publication in the aptly titled book, We Should All Be Feminists.
2. Lena Dunham Recommends: Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist
Writer/actress/producer Lena Dunham and writer Roxane Gay are vocal fans of one another's work. When Gay interviewed Dunham this past year for an article about her new book Not That Kind Of Girl, the Girls creator gushed: "I'm such your crazy fan...every time I read something about you or by you, I'm just screaming, 'Go, go, go!'" Gay's collection of essays on identity, pop culture, politics, ideological imperfection — and, most of all, humanity — is a must read.
3. Laverne Cox Recommends: bell hooks' Black Looks
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Orange Is The New Black Star Laverne Cox expressed how much bell hooks' 1992 treatise Black Looks: Race and Representation impacted her as a college student. hook's incisive analysis of race, class, culture, aesthetics, and the intersections between remains unparalleled.
4. Ariana Grande Recommends: Gloria Steinem's "After Black Power, Women's Liberation."
Last week, Ariana Grande posted a fist-in-the-air feminist manifesto online, opening up about sexual double standards, misogyny in the media, and her feminist lineage. She also name-drops Gloria Steinem's 1969 article from New York Magazine "After Black Power, Women's Liberation," and notes that Steinem's goal from decades ago isn't nearly close to being achieved (for a variety of reasons). However, the article that's twice as old as most of Grande's fanbase is still well worth reading, if only to familiarize yourself with the grand dame of feminism's powerful early writings.
5. Emma Watson Recommends: Patti Smith's Just Kids
Actress and feminist crusader Emma Watson is a big Patti Smith fan, and devoured her memoir, Just Kids. While the text isn't academic, it offers insight into a revolutionary woman's background, touching on motherhood, body image, love, art, and the politics of pushing boundaries. Watson called the book "honest and brave," which is exactly what Smith's oeuvre is all about.
Images: Amazon; Tumblr