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17 Essays by Female Writers That Everyone Should Read

As the VIDA count shows, the ratio of male to female writers published in literary journals, magazines, and book reviews remains largely disproportionate in favor of male writers. In the conversation around this imbalance, some have suggested (among other silly arguments) that women should simply write about more important subjects. The folks over at Creative Nonfiction, the literary magazine that this year celebrates its 20th consecutive year of publication, scoff at this assessment of the situation. In fact, CNF’s current issue, “Female Form,” includes only essays by female writers. While the theme of the issue was initially unintentional, CNF’s editors think this only shows that there are indeed plenty of women writing serious nonfiction; they’re just not getting the serious attention they deserve. Just to hammer the point home, the magazine curated this list of 17 essays by female writers every woman (and man) should read. Check them out after the jump, and if we missed any of your favorites, add them to CNF‘s list in the comments.

adrienne-rich

Split at the Root,” Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich was one of the major feminist writers of the 20th century, and throughout her many volumes of poetry and essays, she has voiced the struggles to establish identity — especially female identity. In 1982’s “Split at the Root,” Rich recalls growing up in a Southern, Christian household, and frets over the significance of identifying — as an adult — as Jewish.

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