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Feminism meets coffee-table books in 'HERstory,' 'Revolution'
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2018-11-28

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The Revolution is Female

Author: Kristen Blush. $61; Blush; 128 pages

Modern HERstory

Author: Blair Imani, $17.99; Ten Speed Press; 208 pages

What does Trump's America mean for feminism?

For one, the rise of activism among women who previously didn't know their senators' names. Trump-era feminists are also becoming more cognizant of privilege, be it white, cis, educational or monetary. Both photojournalist Kristen Blush and activist Blair Imani are spreading the gospel of intersectional feminism through their coffee table books.

Blush's The Revolution is Female chronicles the early days and long-term effects of Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign. Imani's Modern HERstory profiles 70 women and nonbinary individuals who've contributed to society in ways that are often overlooked. Both are vibrantly styled and beautifully written, and make great gifts for feminists and allies of all ages.

Revolution is divided into three sections: "I'm With Her" looks at the Clinton campaign, from the early days of the Democratic primary to general election voting in November 2016. As you'd expect, these photographs are radiate hope, in the joyous face of former President Bill Clinton and in enthusiastic supporters getting a glimpse of the woman they hope will be President. The second section, "Resist," has a different but no less vehement energy as new activists join women's marches and other protests throughout the country. Young girls in pink knitted hats proudly show off their Hillary buttons and marchers tote signs saying "Females Are Strong As Hell."

In the book's final section, "Onward," the protests continue—one particularly powerful image shows four students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School holding signs on the White House lawn, black duct tape over their mouths. Peppered with essays from various activists, Blush's book fosters a strong sense of optimism. Viewing the ramifications of Clinton's unprecedented campaign gives the reader hope that one day, we will see a woman in the Oval Office.

Modern HERstory takes a wider look at female and nonbinary contributions to society. The book features profiles ( written by Imani ) and illustrated portraits ( by Monique Le ) of a wide range of historical and contemporary icons, from trans activists and Stonewall Riot instigators Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, to writer-comedian Issa Rae and rapper Missy Elliott. Each profile contains career highlights as well as obstacles the person had to overcome: for example, Elliott's abusive homelife, author Roxane Gay's childhood trauma and transgender activist Jazz Jennings' childhood spent living under an identity that didn't feel quite right. Most of these "herstorical" figures are of color, many are queer or transgender, and all have made great strides in science, literature, pop culture and activism. The stories are both informative and easy to read, and Le's colorful illustrations make each subject seem larger than life.

Imani herself is Black, Muslim and queer, and founded the education resource platform Equality for HER, as well as working with GLAAD and other high-profile organizations. Modern HERstory attracted the attention of its publisher, in fact, thanks to a Tweet from actor and former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton. Like The Revolution is Female, Modern HERstory is both informed and enthusiastic, celebrating trailblazers in an accessible, aesthetically pleasing manner and promoting feminism the way it should be: diverse, accepting and most of all, intersectional.

The Revolution is Female is available at RevolutionIsFemale.com .

Modern HERstory is available at all online retailers, or at www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/576347/modern-herstory-by-blair-imani-foreword-by-tegan-and-sara/ .


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