It is with great confliction that I take you through this list. Many of the books below are phenomenal works of literature. Some are so anti-feminist that it’s nauseating, while others attempt to portray a feminist message, but take a wrong turn. Then there were some that were just written in the wrong era. Above all, despite theme or plot, each story has an element of misogyny that will have women shaking their heads as they read.
1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Critics of this book went so far as to call the author, Ayn Rand “a traitor to her own sex.” In a controversial scene, the main character is raped but later ends up marrying the man who raped her. Feminists such as Susan Brownmiller, Susan Love Brown, and Barbara Grizzuti Harrison threw darts at Rand’s view of sex calling it, “an act of sadomasochism and of feminine subordination and passivity.”
2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Well, fans of the saga will hate me for this one. Female author plus female protagonists do not necessarily equal a feminist book. What makes this so misogynistic? Take a good look at Bella’s character. Good little girl, catering to all her men. She is the quintessential housewife and has no clue how to function without a man. Readers shouldn’t be surprised to find that Meyer is a devout Mormon, whose defense of the decidedly anti-feminist choices Bella makes are that her ability to choose is what makes the books feminist.
3. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Where to start with this one? Well, Travis’s abhorrent mistreatment of women for one. Then there’s his controlling nature, philandering that shows an utter lack of respect for women, and temper tantrums. Then, there’s Abby who is portrayed as an air-headed bimbo that takes it all and loves him for it.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
If you were to take a group of feminists and ask them what they thought of this book series, it’s likely you’d get a 50/50 split between those feminists that applaud sexual empowerment and those who believe it perpetuates a rape culture. If I’m throwing my hat in the ring here, I’d have to agree with the latter.
5. The Good Wife Guide: 19 Rules for Keeping a Happy Husband by Ladies’ Homemaker Monthly
What’s that title again? Sputter… I’m sure that this 1950’s defiler of feministic pride needs no further explanation.
6. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
If you took any literature classes in college, it’s possible you ran across this gripping tale. Inarguably one of my favorite short stories ever written, this gem was written in 1892, when women’s rights were all but unheard of. The story depicts a woman, overcome by “melancholia” who is banished by her male counterparts (doctors, husband, etc.) to isolation where her madness slowly worsens. While the feminist in me cringes for the way the character is treated, I raise a glass to Gilman. Her story set the stage for changes in mental health care for women.
7. The Painted Bridge: A Novel by Wendy Wallace
When reading anything from the Victorian era about women, you’re bound to come across a book that makes you want to throttle the male characters. Just read a Jane Austen book and tell me this isn’t true. This one is especially disturbing. Also taking on the mental health angle, The Painted Bridge shows the dark side of the mental health industry, especially in its treatment of women, and the chilling practices used on them. For a more chilling look at this concept, and a great addendum to this list, check out Eva Gale’s Hysteria.
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby portrays females as weak, childish, greedy, and selfish — and that’s just the start of a glaringly misogynistic female character profile. After all, who could ever forget the line, “I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
Despite the obviously male chauvinist overtones, The Great Gatsby is a classic for a reason. Its hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable prose does what few books do anymore — leave a chasm in your soul when you turn the last page.
There are a plethora of books that could be added to this list. Know of one? Comment below and share with your friends.
If you’re looking for a reprieve from all the anti-feministic books, check out some of the recommended titles for feminist reads in the video below.
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Featured image via Bustle