The trial at the heart of Bringing Down the Colonel offers a glimpse into life during the Gilded Age and, more importantly, how women can bring about important social change. Madeleine Pollard, the woman at the center of the trial, truly puts the whole system on trial when she sues Colonel Breckinridge for “breach of promise,” demanding that he be held to the same standards as she is. Many women—before, alongside, and after Madeleine Pollard—also helped bring down this system, making this book about more than one woman’s quest for justice: it is inspiration for when the fight seems futile.
With a mix of memoir and essay, Brittney Cooper reflects on how her own life experiences continue to shape her black feminist theory. From poverty to Christianity, she shows how systemic inequalities influence the daily lives of black women and she has learned to grapple with these outside factors affecting her own life. Cooper learns how to take her rage from the mistreatment and sadness she faces in her life and turn it into joy. I highly recommend this book.
Mary Beard’s Women and Power is a slim volume comprising two of her most famous lectures about the roots of sexism and misogyny from ancient times until now. This little tome has been called “a modern feminist classic,” befitting Beard, a scholar of the Greeks and Romans who has also become something of a social media sensation in Britain. The book begins with the story of Telemachus trying to forcefully silence his mother, Penelope, and moves on to other historical precedents for attitudes and biases against women that persist today. Beard’s smart, lively, and persuasive case for women raising their voices (and fists) offers an intellectual and historical foundation for the women’s resistance, from marches, to #MeToo, to the droves of female candidates running for political office this year. Onward!