When “God’s Plan” Is a Political Loser
Unearthing Organic Farming History While Reconnecting with My Punjabi/Cali Roots

Empowered Women Empower Women Through History: A Reading List

By Christian Coleman


Sometimes it happens by trailblazing a path in a testosterone-choked arena. Sometimes it happens through organizing to demand the end of bias and discrimination from our lives and institutions. Sometimes it happens in the quiet, the in-between moments of her life. And, of course, it happens through her writing. These are some of the ways empowered women empower women through history and today. And in a world where all who identify as women are undervalued and threatened with revoked rights, empowerment is a life source.

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting an inexhaustive handful of titles from Beacon’s catalog where that empowerment is potent in a variety of forms. Immense gratitude to the writers who have gifted us with these books!


A Black Girl in the Middle

A Black Girl in the Middle: Essays on (Allegedly) Figuring It All Out

“For Black women, our friendships are so much more; they’re a sisterhood. No one protects or understands Black women like other Black women and so, for reasons bigger than us, we lean on one another and require more from each other because that support isn’t something the world readily gives us . . . No one can love you like your girls. And unfortunately, no one can hurt you deeper than your girls can.”
—Shenequa Golding 


A Black Women's History of the United States

A Black Women’s History of the United States

“The first Black women who stepped foot on what we now consider American soil were not enslaved. In fact, some, like Isabel de Olvera, were free, and they traveled as part of expeditions to explore land that had been inhabited by native populations for generations. These women did not arrive emaciated and distraught from being packed like sardines in the belly of slave ships. Instead, women of African descent arrived before the first ships disembarked their loads of human cargo in the American colonies. They came with Spanish and Portuguese explorers, and many could be classified as indentured servants, missionaries, interpreters, or simply leaders.”
—Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross 


Don't Wait

Don’t Wait: Three Girls Who Fought for Change and Won

“Kahlila explained that she wanted school to be a safe and stable place for her and for kids like her. That’s what drove her to this work, and police don’t make her feel safe or stable. They represent a justice system that jailed both her biological parents and that assumes the worst in her. Her voice was polite, formal, but strong. ‘Don’t wait another week, don’t wait another month,’ she told them. ‘We as Black youth need action now. Stop pushing off our needs as if we’re not a priority to you. As school board members, your number one priority is safety, but school police don’t make students feel safe.’”
—Sonali Kohli



The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance

“[W]hen men began to walk away from the Romantic Ideal, they did so under the shelter of a new ideal, one that I am calling the Pornographic Ideal. Rather than being at odds with romance, the Pornographic Ideal has been its wingman. It has advised men that hot and sweet ‘good girls’ are still worth marrying. But women who are considered too sexually available, dark-skinned, fat, or low-class—attributes attached to insufficient whiteness—are deserving of the relational debasement articulated by Capellanus, a form of mistreatment I call ‘w/horification.’”
—Sabrina Strings


Kindred Gift Edition


“I was back at home—in my own house, in my own time. But I was still caught somehow, joined to the wall as though my arm were growing out of it—or growing into it. From the elbow to the ends of the fingers, my left arm had become a part of the wall. I looked at the spot where flesh joined with plaster, stared at it uncomprehending. It was the exact spot Rufus’s fingers had grasped. I pulled my arm toward me, pulled hard.”
—Octavia E. Butler



Narcas: The Secret Rise of Women in Latin America’s Cartels

“[T]o view their role as a simple reflection of necessity is to rob women of their agency, reducing them to mere pawns in a man’s game. The patriarchy of the cartels seems very real, but to assume women don’t have a capacity for violence or a thirst for power and status is just another narrow gender stereotype that grossly misunderstands and underestimates women and their role in the social order.”
—Deborah Bonello 


The Patriarchs

The Patriarchs: The Origins of Inequality

“The word we use now to describe women’s oppression—‘patriarchy’—has become devastatingly monolithic, drawing in all the ways in which women and girls around the world are abused and treated unfairly, from domestic violence and rape to the gender pay gap and moral double standards. Taken together, the sheer scale and breadth of it appear out of our control. Patriarchy begins to look like one vast conspiracy stretching all the way back into deep time. Something terrible must have happened in our forgotten past to bring us to where we are now.”
—Angela Saini


The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls

“A feminism that must respect ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ is a feminism that is shackled to respecting two basic pillars of patriarchy, pillars that were erected to keep women, girls, nonbinary and queer people in our ‘place,’ which is, of course, subservient to heterosexual men. We need a feminism that is robust, aggressive, and unapologetic; a feminism that defies, disobeys, and disrupts that patriarchy, not one that collaborates with, coddles, and complies with it.”
—Mona Eltahawy 


School Moms

School Moms: Parent Activism, Partisan Politics, and the Battle for Public Education

“I salute these ‘school moms’—a term that I intend as wholly complimentary and includes all highly active school parents—bring serious professional skills, hours of labor, and care to the tasks they take on. They have always been around, breezing down school hallways or sitting at a checkout desk in the library to help out. But in this new environment, their tasks have shifted. Parent involvement is no longer only about organizing the back-to-school picnic and the teacher appreciation breakfast or keeping track of orders for the wrapping paper fundraiser. Now it also includes tracking school board agendas, organizing meeting turnouts, reviewing proposed state legislation, creating Facebook pages where parents first spread the word about conflict in the schools and building—and then turn those Facebook groups into bona fide organizations with their own websites and missions.”
—Laura Pappano 


Touched Out

Touched Out: Motherhood, Misogyny, Consent, and Control

“The #MeToo movement brought a steady stream of testimony by women who had been harassed, violated, and assaulted. It felt like a watershed moment. But even in that climate, mothers I knew still spoke of feeling “touched out” as though it were par for the course. I began to wonder about the connection between how women were feeling in motherhood and the larger culture of assault in which we had all grown up. My aversion to my children’s soft hands felt like an indication of a deep unresolvedness in my body.”
—Amanda Montei




About the Author 

Christian Coleman is the digital marketing manager at Beacon Press and editor of Beacon Broadside. Before joining Beacon, he worked in writing, copy editing, and marketing positions at Sustainable Silicon Valley and Trikone. He graduated from Boston College and the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Follow him on Twitter at @coleman_II and on Bluesky at @colemanthe2nd.bsky.social.