Intersectionality was created in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. The scholar used intersectionality to describe how gender, race, class, sexuality, physical ability and various individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap. Some of these books cover subjects that aren't often written about (for example gender, sexuality, and native Americans). Others manage to showcase common topics in an interesting way (For example a Latin or white person growing up in America). All of these books are uniquely powerful and convey a clear message about intersectionality. You'll undoubtedly learn something new about yourself and others by reading one or all of these books. Keep reading this list to discover four essential books to guide you through intersectionality.
If you can only read one book in this whole list, I would advise you to read Gender: A Graphic Guide by author Meg-John Barker and illustrator Jules Scheele. Barker is the author of various books, which you should definitely try to read, on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History, Sexuality: A Graphic Guide, Life Isn't Binary, and etc.
This book explores provoking topics and answers any questions you may have on gender, sexuality, and the psychology. It is an easy read for people of all ages. The authors do a great job of showing the history, the present, and the future of gender. They aren't trying to "push feminst agendas” or “right wing propaganda,” and this book is just meant to educate people on gender, race, sexuality, class, ableism, and many other matters that would fall into the intersectional umbrella. The graphics make the book much more fun to read and the topics easier to understand.
What I learned from this book is that people have different opinions on gender, and there are many gray areas when it comes to identity, which we often overlook because we try so hard to put people in boxes. Barker made me hopeful for a future where all people, especially trans people, will feel safe in any space, a genderless future, women will have the same rights and advantages that men do, and your skin tone will not dictate how you will be treated.
If you do get to read this book you will learn one of my new favorite words: Biopsychosocial. Trust me: this is a great read if you are just starting out with intersectionality. It's a fun and entertaining read, and helped me understand gender. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling to understand the vocabulary about gender, or who has friends or family members that are non cis-gender.
Next we have The House on Mango Street, written by Sandra Cisneros, who is known for exploring the American dream through novels, short stories, and poetry. This book examines gender, class, and race in a series of vignettes through the eyes of 12-years-old Latin girl, Esperanza.
In theory, this is a children's book because it is such a short and easy read. However, you can trust me when I say that every time you read this book, you will learn something new about the characters—and even yourself. I first read this book when I was in middle school around the age of 12, and I loved it. But I didn't understand everything they were talking about because I was just happy to see myself in one of the books read in my class. This book not only represents young Latina girls growing up in America; it also represents girls that are struggling between girlhood and womanhood and are trying to figure out who they are outside of societal expectations.
It teaches us how women are sexualized at a young age. It also teaches about loss of innocence, and how the older generations' ignorance of oppression, has created a pattern of manipulative and oppressive acts. If you do get to read this book you should definitely read my favorite vignette “Hips.”
Next we have Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, written by Alison Bechdel, the writer of “ Dykes to Watch Out For.” This comic strip, which ran from 1983 to 2008, was one of the earliest ongoing representations of lesbians in pop culture. This is also a graphic novel about Bechdel's discovery of her own sexuality, her relationship with her gay father, and her attempts to analyze her past and how it has affected her present choices and who she is now.
Without getting too much into detail, because trust me this book has so many twists and turns you will be shocked at the revelations and the hidden messages in the pictures and writing, you will see Alison struggling with her lesbianism and how she can be herself outside and inside her sexuality. You will see her struggle with all of this because of the expectation society has put on her because of her gender and sexuality.
By the end of this book, you will learn a little more about how our relationships with our parents can affect how we think of ourselves, and you'll also learn the liberation and pleasure that comes with living your erotic truth. So if you are strugglising with the trauma of coming out and living your truth, you will love this book. The author makes it known that the trauma her father put her through gave her the assertive attitude she now possesses, that helped her easily declare her queerness, and live her queer truth. This book also has a musical adaptation by the same name. And you'll be happy to know that you will be learning a lot in this book because in January 2022, the Wentzville school board in Missouri voted 4–3 to ban Fun Home.
Finally, we have Solar Storms by Linda Hogan, an indigunous poet, storyteller, academic, playwright, novelist, environmentalist and writer of short stories. In this book, we see Angel, a 17-year-old Native American girl, traveling to Adam’s Rib to figure out who she is and whether she can find a place to finally belong. Angel forms connections with other women, and this becomes her biggest advantage throughout the story, it grows her ability to heal from discrimination and generational trauma.
This book is the last on the list because it is the hardest to read. Not because of the language, but because it is deeply emotional and I would be lying if I didn't say that I cried a couple of times (well, maybe more than a couple of times). Angel is a truly inspirational character, and we should all aspire to be a little more like her. Her life's purpose is to help others and to teach others, especially the next generation of the healing powers of nature and how you can achieve inner peace, after years of trauma caused by the western world. It's important to know how badly Native Americans have been treated in this country and how they are treated now, which isn’t that great either.
This book also shows us the damages of putting people in boxes and having certain expectations imprinted on people can be more harmful than good. If you get to read this book, you will come across one of my favorite quotes, “Your mother was a door,” Bush said. “Always closed. But sometimes I thought she was a window, instead, because through her I glimpsed scenes of suffering.” (96).
I hope this short list was helpful, and that you can begin (or continue) your journey of a more inclusive society! And that these books help expand your vocabulary and understanding of certain topics. Let's remember that we should always be moving forward so the discrimintion we can be subjected to doesn't turn into insecurity, but it can push us to strive for more. I wrote this paper because I think I’d rather be changed and grow by something good, like love and the support of others around me rather than the hate and demandingness from the outside world.