5 Great Writers Who Explore Feminism & Gender Theory

Gender is a complex subject that is deeply personal to many. Delving into feminist ideas and explorations of the gender spectrum can help people better understand themselves and the world around them. The five writers listed here have a number of works, both fiction and non-fiction, that ask and answer important questions about gender theory. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Talented People Who Write About Gender & Feminism

Writer Notable Works
Leni Zumas Red Clocks The Listeners
Kate Scelsa Everyone's Fine With Virginia Woolf Fans of the Impossible Life
Sezin Koehler Crime Rave American Monsters
August McLaughlin Girl Boner In Her Shadow
Barbara J. Risman Where the Millennials Will Take Us Families as They Really Are

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10 Women Who Changed History

  1. Claudette Colvin: Teenage civil rights activist
  2. Jane Addams: Nobel Peace Prize winner & suffragette
  3. Rosalind Franklin: Made ground-breaking discoveries about DNA
  4. Sojourner Truth: Abolitionist and women's rights activist
  5. Indira Gandhi: First female prime minister of India
  6. Margaret Sanger: Fought for women's right to birth control
  7. Marsha P. Johnson: Trans woman and LGBT rights activist
  8. Junko Tabei: First woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest
  9. Susan Travers: WWII General who served in Italy, Germany, & France
  10. Betty Friedan: Social activist and author of The Feminine Mystique

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In Depth

The twenty-first century has seen an explosion of new ideas about gender and within feminist thought, as well as fiercely fought campaigns that have won growing acceptance for expressions of identity that don't conform to previous norms. This list, presented in no particular order, spotlights five writers who have taken up such issues in their own work, whether novels, plays, cultural criticism, or scholarly publications.

At #1, Leni Zumas lives in Oregon, and directs the creative writing program at Portland State University. She won that state's 2019 Book Award for her bestselling novel "Red Clocks," which Vulture called one of the 100 Most Important Books of the 21st Century So Far. Among her literary influences, she cites Kathy Acker, Virginia Woolf, and Claudia Rankine, as well as a slew of other women writers and artists.

Zumas's other fictional works include the short story collection "Farewell Navigator" and the novel "The Listeners." These books have been translated into French, Spanish, and Ukrainian, among many other languages. Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in major magazines and journals around the world, including Granta, The Times Literary Supplement, and Tin House.

Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in major magazines and journals around the world, including Granta, The Times Literary Supplement, and Tin House.

#2 is Kate Scelsa, a playwright, novelist, and songwriter who also works as a performer and podcast host. Based in New York, the multi-hyphenate works frequently with the theater company Elevator Repair Service, which has mounted her own plays and with which she has acted in productions by other creators. It was that group that first staged her 2018 "Everyone's Fine With Virginia Woolf," a satire of misogyny in classic American theater.

Scelsa's debut young adult novel, "Fans of the Impossible Life," published in 2015, is a queer coming-of-age story that deals with questions of friendship and chosen family. The book received a number of positive notices, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The author also contributes lyrics to her band The Witch Ones, an indie rock group that came together to fight despair induced by contemporary politics.

In the #3 position, Sezin Zuzu Koehler is a pop-culture writer, as well as an artist and horror novelist, whose commentary, reviews, and other essays have appeared in feminist outlets including Bitch Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Broadly. Half-Lithuanian American, half-Sri Lankan, she identifies as a Third Culture Kid, and describes herself as a tattoo collector and Frida Kahlo devotee. She lives in a Florida beach town.

She lives in a Florida beach town.

In her criticism and cultural reporting, Koehler most frequently addresses films and television shows from a perspective attuned to sociopolitical questions, including a large body of writing on Twin Peaks. Her books include "Crime Rave," which mixes postmodern feminist horror with urban fantasy, and "American Monsters," a collection containing spooky stories as well as essays about the genre.

For #4, it's August McLaughlin, who advocates for the demystification of sexuality and the celebration of pleasure in her articles, books, podcast, and activism. The journalist and media personality is best known for the project Girl Boner, which encompasses a book series, radio show, and empowerment brand. Under this banner, the author offers a guide to sexual wellness, encouraging women to embrace their desires.

McLaughlin's occasional writing has been published in outlets including Cosmopolitan, Dame Magazine, and The Washington Post, addressing subjects like women's health, gender and appearance, and eating disorders. She frequently makes appearances as an individual speaker or in conversation with others. For the writer, her interest in sexuality is not just about arousal, but the effort to lead a full, authentic life.

She frequently makes appearances as an individual speaker or in conversation with others.

Concluding things at #5, Barbara J. Risman is a sociologist who has developed a theory of gender as a social structure in her writing. She holds the post of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has performed visiting scholar duties at educational institutions in Spain, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, among other places.

Risman's 2018 book "Where the Millennials Will Take Us" explores the attitudes of male, female, and non-binary people from the titular generation through an analysis of life history interviews. She is also the co-editor of a textbook on the sociology of gender, and editor of a major journal. Outside of her scholarly research, the academic is CEO and coach at her own program of writing retreats.