May 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

Whether you read for knowledge or leisure, books are so important. May is a big month for new releases by women and writers of historically excluded communities; I’ve highlighted 60 of them here, but there are many more. I hope you’ll find some here that will help you reflect and act in whatever ways you can. 

Rolling Back Abortion Rights in the U.S. Will Send Shockwaves Around the World

It is distressing to think that the United States, once a global leader in women’s rights, could erase 50 years of progress in a single moment. We’ve seen how anti-choice policies in the U.S. tend to embolden the opposition around the world.

We stand in solidarity with the millions of women in the U.S. who could see their reproductive rights cruelly stripped away, and with the many more across the globe who may see their national abortion laws tighten as a result.

The Pornification of War in Ukraine

The trending of #Ukraine on porn sites is only a recent development of an age-old misogyny, as old as warfare itself.

Research shows that habitual users of online porn seek ever more explicit and graphic images in order to sustain the same level of arousal. This partly explains the uptick in searches for pornographic videos of Ukrainian women after the invasion. It also accounts for the horrifying genres known as “refugee porn” and “war porn.” These videos link sex with desperation and violence. But not just any violence will do. The user is mainly interested in videos that feature the utter degradation of women and girls.

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Attacks on Women in Elected Office Ramp Up; Why’d Equal Pay Day Come a Week Early This Year?

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation.

This week: the growing pro-woman movement in South Korea; read a full transcript and listen to the recordings from the inaugural Democracy Solutions Summit hosted by RepresentWomen last week; women’s rights and a healthy democracy are linked; attacks on women in elected office are becoming all too frequent; why Equal Pay Day for women fell more than a week earlier than last year; and more.

In a World Increasingly Defined By Crises, We Need Women’s Leadership Like Never Before

Three trends characterized women’s leadership in the pandemic response: effective leadership, rapid response and socially inclusive policies.

In a future being shaped increasingly by climate change, the collapse of liberal democracies, growing inequality, pandemics and now a war in Eastern Europe, what’s needed more than ever are leaders with empathy backed up by serious attention to the needs of the most vulnerable—ones that can bring people together, in solidarity, during times of hardship and craft a set of socially inclusive policies that capture the complex and myriad impacts of crises.  We need not just more women, including diverse women leaders at the top but also more male leaders embracing the qualities that women leaders have exemplified throughout the pandemic. Nothing less than our future depends on it. 

Will Ukraine Bury Feminist Foreign Policies or Will It Reveal Their Power?

In Ukraine, once again, the rules of conscription and refuge are following a familiar pattern: Men to the front, women and children to shelter, inside and outside the country. This highlights how conventional our expectations still are when it comes to war.

Now is the time to insist on gender equality at any future or current negotiating tables and centering the voices of those who have been most directly affected by conflict. But the proponents of feminist foreign policies also need to ensure that an understanding of the gendered implications of this conflict informs the policies that are pursued today.

‘My Win Is Their Win’: Deqa Dhalac Makes History as Maine’s First Black, Muslim Somali-American Mayor

Thirty years ago, Deqa Dhalac fled her homeland of Somalia, right before the start of a devastating civil war which still lingers on. Last December, she made history when she became America’s first Somali American mayor; South Portland’s 11th woman mayor (the city’s first female mayor was in 1985); and the first African, Muslim, Somali American mayor in Maine and South Portland—a city where 90 percent of the population is white.

“It says a lot when six white Americans support and elect a Black Muslim immigrant to be their mayor,” said Dhalac about other South Portland City Council members.

Harriet Tubman in the Art of Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold’s art on Harriet Tubman is an illustration of her capacity as an artist for taking somber stories and turning them into stories of triumph, victory and joy. 

Faith (my mother) is a fabulist whose real interest is in projecting her ideas into the future. The older I get, the more I appreciate my mother’s art, in particular her insistence upon rendering the most apparently despairing circumstances of our histories as Black folk as opportunities for spiritual and magical transcendence.