Thinking About Running For Office? 11 Books Every Woman Needs To Read Before Throwing Their Hat In The Ring
You’ve already seen the headlines: a record number of women are running for political office in 2018, clearly a direct response to the 2016 election, the Trump presidency, and the fact that women are just seriously fed up with the patriarchy making a mess of practically everything. NPR recently reported that more than twice as many women are running for Congress in 2018, compared with those who ran in 2016. The NY Daily News reports that 526 female challengers and incumbents are preparing to run in the midterm elections. And Emily's List — an American political action committee that helps elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office — reports being contacted by over 1,000 women seeking advice about running for office in the month following Nov. 8, 2016. That's more interest than they saw the entire year prior.
Needless to say, many women are starting to take seriously the fact that a woman’s place is in the House. And the Senate. And the White House. And at all levels of government, small and large, local and national, and beyond.
If you’re a woman thinking of running for office in the not-so-distant future, and haven’t yet gotten the memo: NOW IS YOUR TIME! Plus, with more women seeking political power than ever before, you’re in great company. Here are 11 books worth reading if you’re a woman thinking of running for office.
'Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World' by Jennifer Palmieri
Written as a personal letter to the future female leaders of the world from the former Director of Communications for the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World is an intimate and firsthand account of what it takes to be a woman daring lead the world: the struggles, stereotypes, double standards, and even the mistakes that women who have been playing by the rules of the patriarchy for too long are susceptible to making. Palmieri’s words are both practical and hopeful.
'The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote' by Elaine F. Weiss
A comprehensive timeline of the last six weeks of the movement for woman suffrage in the United States, The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss is a compelling and well-researched account of the intense amount of work and struggle women have faced throughout history — and will continue to transcend in the future — in fighting for our rights and political power.
'Big Girls Don't Cry' by Rebecca Traister
Is it just me, or does 2008 seem like a lifetime ago? In her 2011 title Big Girls Don't Cry, Rebecca Traister looks at the lingering impact of the 2008 presidential campaign on national politics: what it meant to have both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin running for offices in very different ways, and what women around the country and the world — from the comedic influence of Tina Fey to the activist efforts of young feminists — did differently than ever before. This one should probably be re-subtitled "The FIRST Election That Changed Everything For American Women."
'No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need' by Naomi Klein
In No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, scholar of modern political systems and journalist Naomi Klein argues that the election of Donald Trump wasn’t a shocking phenomenon, but rather the United States simply falling into the same pattern that democracies all over the world are falling into. She also demonstrates that the current resistance being launched by America’s women against a misogynistic patriarchy is only the beginning of the work we’re going to have to do to get back on track.
'A Girl's Guide to Joining the Resistance: A Feminist Handbook on Fighting for Good' by Emma Gray
Written by the Executive Women’s Editor at Huffpost, Emma Gray, A Girl's Guide to Joining the Resistance: A Feminist Handbook on Fighting for Good features interviews with some of today’s most prominent thought leaders and activists, while offering young, female leaders advice on everything from how to choose good news sources and get quality information, to quick and sustainable ways to call and email elected officials or donate to organizations, to some essential self-care practices for staying involved without burning yourself out. Must read.
'Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win' by Anne E. Kornblut
Another book that closely examines the role women played in the 2008 presidential election — particularly first-time presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and VP candidate Sarah Palin — Anne E. Kornblut’s Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win uses 2008 as a case study for navigating the sexism of America’s political system, calling attention to not only the ways men fight women’s success as global leaders, but the way women thwart the success of other women as well. Although the days of 2008 are well behind us, Notes from the Cracked Ceiling is critical for exploring not only the different standards Clinton and Palin were held to compared to their male colleagues, but the different standards they were held to compared to one another as well.
'Women & Power: A Manifesto' by Mary Beard
Taking the long view of the history of misogyny — all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome, and the dynamics of male/female relationships in classic texts — Mary Beard’s Women & Power: A Manifesto zeros in on the historical silencing of women and explains the history of male-dominance, in order to discover how we can all better combat it.
'Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America' by Melissa Harris-Perry
While all American women have felt the sting of a history of political disenfranchisement, women of color face a uniquely more fraught landscape of stereotypes, silencing, and injustice. In Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, Melissa Harris-Perry looks at the representations of black women in the United States, and how African American women engage with the political system and activist organizing.
'Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, Change the World' by Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand explores the immense power of women who dare to raise their voices — personally, professionally, at all levels of politics, and beyond. Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, Change the World is a playbook for women who are ready to demand full representation in politics, and it envisions a world where women are calling the shots on everything from affordable daycare, paid family medical leave, equal pay, and more.
'Why Women Should Rule the World' by Dee Dee Myers
Admittedly an oldie (published in 1975) Dee Dee Myers’ Why Women Should Rule the World begins with Myers’ work as White House press secretary, a political analyst, a media commentator, and former consultant to NBC's The West Wing. Blending memoir and history, Myers’ illustrates a country we have yet to realize — one where women are widely represented at all levels of leadership and life — but one we’re fighting our way ever closer to. She also digs into the unique hurdles women have to jump on their path to the top; which are as familiar today as they were when this one was first published.
'What Happened' by Hillary Clinton
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton ventures far beyond explaining what happened during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton goes back all the way to her schooldays to demonstrate the lifetime of glass ceilings, closed doors, and rampant sexism she’s endured — painting a portrait of a female leader and political candidate whose loss can hardly be summed up into the mere (though many) months of campaigning. She does, however, dig deep into the inner workings of her 2016 run for president as well, and it reads like a primer for any fellow women looking to run.