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Famous Feminist Writers of the 20th Century

Today, we need to pay homage to the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century. Without them, there might be no girl power today.

By Mackenzie Z. KennedyPublished 7 years ago 5 min read

Feminism has always been a movement that inspired via the arts. In its most early stages, feminists were women who used the art of speaking, fine literature, and yes, even dance, to promote the idea of equality and a more open-to-sexuality world.

The 20th century saw some of the greatest advancements in the feminist movement — and much of that is thanks to the many famous feminist writers of the 20th century. Their words inspired and also raised awareness of the plight of women in the world.

Without these brilliant writers below, many women would have simply resigned themselves to being second-class citizens and many men wouldn't have realized what women actually have to deal with as a result of being born female.

Simone de Beauvoir

Perhaps one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century was the late, great Simone de Beauvoir. Her works, which include great titles like The Second Sexand She Came to Stay, often explored women's roles in society — and called out the wicked double standards that she grew up with.

She also was one of the first women out there who really pointed out how women were socialized to "be women," and many girls, upon reading her writing, realized how many double-standards tend to be extant in modern society.

Though she passed in 1986, her work lives on — and is still widely referenced today. Heck, even Studio Killers gave her a nod in their song, "All Men Are Pigs."

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is one of the most widely read, and most famous feminist writers of the 20th century. She's most well-known for her "stream of consciousness" style of writing, as well as the fact that she regularly placed women at the forefront of her stories — a rarity at the time.

Woolf was one of the first writers who brought a woman's inner life to the forefront and also was one of the only women who noted that misogyny and militarism tend to go together. If you want to get into her books, Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One's Ownare a good place to start.

Also, she was one of the few women of her time to see gender as a fluid concept, so if you're nonbinary like I am, you can thank her for being one of the first to validate that.

Sylvia Plath

If you've gone to high school or college, you probably already know who Sylvia Plath is. This famous author was the woman behind The Bell Jar, and regularly is cited as one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century, despite being only 29 years old when she died.

Her hard-hitting novels don't only cover feminist social commentary; they also cover mental illness and many other topics that were completely taboo in her time. But, her life was also the talk of the town — and her bold college girl ways still get discussed in major magazines like The Atlanticas a result.

She's one of the best selling female writers of her time, and her work has inspired millions. One could only imagine what else she would have written had she not killed herself at such a young age due to the abuse and philandering her husband put her through.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem isn't just one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century; she's one of the most famous feminists, period. She was known for being "radical" in her line of thought, and for being vocal about the way that the entertainment industry tends to use women as props rather than as people.

Most people know her for her activism, but she's way more than just a protester. Along with autobiographies like My Life on the Road, she also wrote some pretty cool articles and a 60s classic called The Beach Book.

Between having dozens of famous photos, being on myriads of television shows, and just being awesome at writing, she's one of the most accomplished feminists in history — and one of the most inspiring personalities out there.

Angela Carter

Though many Americans might not have heard of her, across the pond she's one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century. Though she was mostly known for her fantastic fiction work, the truth is that all of Angela Carter's work had strong feminist elements to them — especially her hit, The Bloody Chamber.

Much of Carter's works focused on sex, sexuality, and the way that people treated women who were openly sexual. As one of the first women to actually buck the "pure and chaste" veneer that society expects of girls, Angela Carter was a major trailblazer in her own feminist right.

Monique Wittig

Hardcore feminists already know about Monique Wittig. She's actually one of the first female writers to focus exclusively on overcoming the need for gender roles — and regularly talked about the problems that come with the life women are supposed to live with male partners.

She was the woman who coined the term the "heterosexual contract," and thus, definitely deserves a place on any list of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century.

Monique Wittig was very much ahead of her time — and to a point, still might be too edgy for some. If you want to get a better idea of her platforms, reading The Straight Mindand other essays can be a good way to go about it.

Joanna Russ

Joanna Russ is the type of author who never had an issue being vocal about her beliefs, and regularly was labeled a "radical feminist" by those who didn't believe in the movement.

Her most famous works include How to Suppress Women's Writing, a scathing critique of the writing industry at the time, as well as The Female Mana utopian satire pointing how how ridiculous social standards really are.

Between her snark and her huge audience, she's definitely one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century.


About the Creator

Mackenzie Z. Kennedy

Socialite and dating guru Mackenzie Kennedy knows all about the inner workings of people and society as a whole. It's not only her lifestyle - it's her passion. She lives in Hoboken with her pet dogs, Cassie and Callie.

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