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I work with teens and I frequently see YA novels described as "feminist". Sometimes all this seems to be is that the protagonist is a queer girl, usually badass in some way. Sometimes it's on a feminist subject - often rape.

I don't know. I'd like something more than this. I'd love to see YA novels where teen girls really question the fundamentals of patriarchy, and get political, even philosophical about it. Like there are books about fighting dress codes but the girls never really confront social norms with regards to female dress. They're just like "yay! we can wear camis".

What do you all think makes a novel feminist? What are some good feminist novels for teens?

I work with teens and I frequently see YA novels described as "feminist". Sometimes all this seems to be is that the protagonist is a queer girl, usually badass in some way. Sometimes it's on a feminist subject - often rape. I don't know. I'd like something more than this. I'd love to see YA novels where teen girls really question the fundamentals of patriarchy, and get political, even philosophical about it. Like there are books about fighting dress codes but the girls never really confront social norms with regards to female dress. They're just like "yay! we can wear camis". What do you all think makes a novel feminist? What are some good feminist novels for teens?

19 comments

It's probably a bit on the younger side of teen, but one of my favorite books growing up was Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. (It's the first part of a series called The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). It's about a princess named Cimorene who decides she doesn't fit into the princess/feminine box and decides to get captured by a dragon and be a dragon's princess. This means that she becomes a dragon's assistant, rebuffs the suitors who come to rescue her, defeats wizards with intelligence, and helps save a kingdom. I always loved that she's independent but also never tries to be a man. She's just herself.

Another one I love is the graphic novel Persepolis. It's a memoir about the author's childhood during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and her personal problems with the oppression placed upon girls and women.

+1 for Persepolis. That was such an eye opening book for me, as someone who was deprogramming herself from Bush II Republicanism in the early to mid aughts. I really loved it.