Further reading

Feminist histories of/ including the second wave

Cobble, Dorothy Sue, Gordon, Linda and Henry, Astrid, Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements (Norton, 2014).

Echols, Alice, Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-75 (U. Minnesota Press, 1989).

Evans, Sara, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left (Vintage, 1979).

Giddings, Paula, Where and When I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. (Bantam Books, 1984), especially Part III.

Henry, Astrid, Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict in Third Wave Feminism (Indiana UP, 2004)

Orleck, Annelise, Rethinking American Women’s Activism (Routledge, 2015), chs 4-6. Especially good on women’s activism outside the autonomous WLM, e.g. in the Labour movement.

Coote, Anna and Beatrix Campbell, Sweet Freedom (Picador, 1982)—deals with the British feminist movement

Mackay, Finn, Radical Feminism: Feminist Activism in Movement (Palgrave 2015)—mainly a history and assessment of the Reclaim the Night movement, but the early chapters are more generally informative on British radical feminism.

Duchen, Claire, Feminism in France from 1968 to Mitterand (Routledge, 1986).

Anthologies of writing from and about second wave feminism in the US, UK and elsewhere

Crow, Barbara (ed.) Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader (NYU Press, 2000).

Lovell, Terry (ed), British Feminist Thought (Verso, 1990)—actually this is about one major current in British feminist thought, namely socialist feminism.

Mirza, Heidi (ed) British Black Feminism: A Reader (Routledge 1997), especially Part I

Wandor, Michelene (ed.) The Body Politic: Writings from the WLM in Britain, 1969-72. (Stage 1, 1972)

Bono, Paola and Kemp, Sandra (eds.) Italian Feminist Thought (Oxford UP, 1991)—sections 2, 3, 11 and 12 contain documents from the Italian women’s movement of the 1970s and early 80s.

Marks, Elaine and de Courtivron, Isabelle (eds.) New French Feminisms (Harvester, 1981)—an anthology of (often very) short extracts from a range of writings by feminists based in France. The selection and editorial material make it interesting as evidence of how ‘French feminism’ was presented and received in the US and UK in the early 1980s, but if you’re interested in the work of a specific writer (e.g. Cixous, Irigaray, Kristeva, Wittig), look for the original text (if you read French) or for a more recent translation/ critical edition (or a collection like Toril Moi’s Kristeva Reader), which will offer a better representation of the work.

Morgan, Robin (ed) Sisterhood is Global (Anchor Books, 1984)—contains short essays summarising the state of feminism in most of the world’s countries in the mid-1980s, with reading suggestions that may be helpful if you’re interested in a specific country.

Theorizing women’s oppression  

Brownmiller, Susan, Against Our Will (Fawcett, 1975).

Dallacosta, Mariarosa and James, Selma (1971) ‘Women and the subversion of the community’. https://libcom.org/library/power-women-subversion-community-della-costa-selma-james (NB: the relevant part, with the title quoted, is buried in the middle of a lot of other stuff on this website). This analysis was the basis for the Wages for Housework movement.

Davis, Angela, Women, Race and Class (Vintage, 1983). The later chapters (11-13) deal with rape, reproductive rights and domestic labour, and they include critiques of Brownmiller and Dallacosta.

Delphy, Christine, Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women’s Oppression (Verso 2016).

Dinnerstein, Dorothy, The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World (Women’s Press, 1987; originally published in the US in 1976 as The Mermaid and the Minotaur). Drawing on psychoanalytic theory, this argues that sexism and male dominance are effects of the social fact that both male and female children are cared for by women.

Dworkin, Andrea, Woman Hating (Penguin, 1976). [content note: very graphic] You can download this (and other works by Dworkin) free at http://radfem.org/dworkin/

Firestone, Shulamith, The Dialectic of Sex (Verso, 2015)

Greer, Germaine, The Female Eunuch (1970; reissued Harper Perennial 2006)

Lerner, Gerda, The Creation of Patriarchy (OUP, 1986).

MacKinnon, Catharine, Feminism Unmodified (Harvard UP, 1987). A collection in which a lot of the content is from before 1985.

Rich, Adrienne, Of Woman Born (Virago, 1977)

Solanas, Valerie, SCUM Manifesto (Verso 2015).

 Writing by Black feminists and feminists of colour

Cade Bambara, Toni (ed) The Black Woman (Washington Square Press, 1970). This is an early anthology including both political essays and creative writing.

Davis, Angela, Women, Race and Class (Vintage, 1983)

Giddings, Paula, Where and When I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. (Bantam Books, 1984), especially Part III.

Feminist Review 17 (1984): Many Voices One Chant: Black Feminist Perspectives.

Lorde, Audre,  Sister Outsider (Crossing Press, 1984).

Moraga, Cherríe and Anzaldúa, Gloria (eds.) This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (Kitchen Table Press, 1981). This collection is now in its 4th (2015) edition; my reference is to the original.

Mirza, Heidi (ed) British Black Feminism: A Reader (Routledge 1997), especially Part I

Wallace, Michele, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1978; reissued Verso 2015).

Pornography and related controversies

Carter, Angela, The Sadeian Woman (Virago, 1979)

Cornell, Drusilla (ed) Feminism and Pornography (Oxford UP, 2000). Collection including contributions from both second wave and post-second-wave sources.

Dworkin, Andrea, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (Women’s Press, 1981)

Kappeler, Susanne, The Pornography of Representation (Polity Press, 1986)

MacKinnon, Catharine, Feminism Unmodified (Harvard UP, 1987), Section III

Snitow, Ann et al. (eds.) Powers of Desire (NYU Press, 1983) [the UK edition is titled Desire: the Politics of Sexuality]

Vance, Carole (ed.) Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Women’s Sexuality (Routledge, 1984)

Fiction, memoir, drama and film


Brown, Rita Mae, Rubyfruit Jungle (1973; repr Penguin 2015)

French, Marilyn, The Women’s Room (1977, repr. Virago 2007)

Hong Kingston, Maxine, The Woman Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1975, repr. Picador 2002)

Jong, Erica, Fear of Flying (1973, repr. Vintage 1998)

Kaufman, Sue, Diary of a Mad Housewife (Penguin, 1971)

Lorde, Audre, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982; Crossing Press 2001)

Millett, Kate, Flying (Ballantine, 1975)

Morrison, Toni, The Bluest Eye (1970; repr. Vintage, 1999)

Piercy, Marge, Small Changes (Doubleday, 1973)

—– Woman on the Edge of Time (1979; reissued Del Rey, 2016)

Russ, Joanna, The Female Man (1975, reissued Orion 2010)

Shange, Ntozake, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide: When the Rainbow is Enuf (Prentice-Hall, 1997). This is a performance piece first seen in 1974: what I’ve listed details for is the text/script but it is also available in recorded performance on DVD.

Walker, Alice, Meridian (1976, reissued Phoenix 2004)


Barker, Pat, Union Street (Virago, 1982)

Fairbairns, Zoe, Benefits (Virago, 1979)

Roberts, Michele, A Piece of the Night (Women’s Press, 1978)

Wilson, Anna, Altogether Elsewhere (Onlywomen Press, 1975)

Winterson, Jeanette, Oranges are not the Only Fruit (1985, reissued Vintage, 2014)

Some classic second wave feminist films 

Chantal Akerman (dir., Belgium) Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles*, 1975.

Agnès Varda (dir., France) One Sings, the Other Doesn’t [L’Une Chante, L’Autre Pas*], 1977.

Helke Sander (dir., Germany) The All-Round Reduced Personality, 1978.

Margarethe von Trotta (dir., Germany) The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, 1978. (Also Die Bleierne Zeit**, 1981, which went by different English language titles in the UK (‘The German Sisters’) and the US (‘Marianne and Juliane’).

Marleen Gorris (dir., Netherlands), A Question of Silence. 1982.

Lizzie Borden (dir., USA) Born in Flames*, 1983 and Working Girls*, 1984.

Online archives/resources

BBC broadcasts on second wave feminism, http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/70sfeminism/

British Library, Spare Rib magazine (the UK’s most-read feminist publication during this period, appearing weekly) http://www.bl.uk/spare-rib

British Library, ‘Sisterhood and after’. British movement history resource, including interviews with second wave activists. https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood

Trouble & Strife: the radical feminist magazine, http://www.troubleandstrife.org (a British publication founded in 1983 and still operating: the archive area of the site contains pdfs of the early print issues, and some later issues contain oral history pieces on the British second wave).

WLU Herstory Archive, http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/CWLUArchive/classic.html