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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

I really like Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. Probably because I relate so strongly to the main character. She's a gender nonconforming lesbian with a shit ton of internalized misogyny, but she grows and develops throughout the novel. She also has some physical dysphoria, and flat out rejects the idea of being transgender.

I was reading some reviews on Goodreads just now, and a lot of reviewers are still convinced the main character Pen is on the trans spectrum despite her denying it outright. One of the reviewers complained about the author seeming like an "older lesbian" (code for TERF) and there was a review who felt that it wasn't nuanced enough in terms of 21st century gender complexity. They really want Pen to be non-female in some way and seem upset that she claims her femaleness and womanhood despite her masculinity.

Pen on how she knows she's not a boy:

"I don’t feel wrong inside myself. I don’t feel like I’m someone I shouldn’t be. Only other people make me feel like there's something wrong with me."

Oh I'm glad you said that because I was curious about this book, but Iw as worried it would be a trans narrative. I'll have to check it out.

Yeah, it's definitely not a trans narrative. It's pretty much TERF city in comparison to the kinds of books that are coming out now.