Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance
“White Queen" is what an unusual and fascinating woman named May French-Sheldon (1847-1936) called herself, or claimed that the Africans she met, during her 1891 expedition to the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, called her. Her explorer’s outfit—including a full-length, jewel-encrusted, white ballgown, tiara, and waist-length blonde wig—ensured her whiteness would be inextricably linked to what she hoped would be read as “queenliness.” “White Queen” also describes a kind of white, Western, feminist figure whose claims to power, importance, and personal emancipation rely heavily upon and perpetuate a world structured by racism and colonialism.
This book zooms in on the fascinating life and public career of the first woman explorer of Africa to explicate how white American feminist identity—first forged in the fires of colonial conquest—became reliant on tropes of race in ways that still yoke American feminism to the politics of empire.
Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).
We think you will like They Didn't See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties, The Left Hand of Darkness, and King Kong Theory if you like this list.
From Melissa's list on the best books on U.S. grassroots feminism.
Levenstein’s subtitle says it all: we generally don’t think there was a ‘90s feminism. Her book pairs especially well with the others on this list, because it demonstrates how women of color took the lead in an intersectional feminism that focused on a huge range of issues at the end of the 20th century. It’s also a great read about the role of the early internet in 1990s feminist organizing. If you think social media was the first time computer technology shaped grassroots activism, her chapter on technology alone will blow your mind.
From Kellie's list on the best science fiction books featuring queer characters.
This story is a masterclass in worldbuilding, it has an intricate plot, it’s science fiction that also talks about hate and fear and the differences in culture, and oh yeah, it features a whole entire gender-fluid species. The book is both about gender and not about gender, and the main character of Genly goes through a period of self-reflection and realizing his shortcomings. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s Ursula K. Le Guin, what more do I need to say?
From Anne's list on the best quasi-memoirs by women (that are secretly about money).
A hard-hitting work of theory that hinges heavily on Despentes’ personal experience in the worlds of punk and sex work, the French writer and filmmaker goes further than most in her demands for feminist solidarity. Brilliant, fun, and captivating, King Kong Theory sits alongside Paolo Freire, James C. Scott, and Emma Goldman in my personal pantheon of thinkers.