The Sunday Magazine

Reading feminist classics in the wake of #MeToo to become a better man

Carl Cederstrom is a Swedish academic who studies self-help movements. In the wake of #MeToo, he decided to read 13 classic books about feminism, all in one month. He tells Michael Enright what he learned about how to be a better man.
Carl Cederstrom wrote, "How to be a good man: what I learned from a month of reading the feminist classics," for The Guardian. (Niklas Bjoêrling )

In 2017, news broke of the predatory behaviour of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Soon after, came dozens of stories of powerful men accused of everything from groping to rape.

The #MeToo movement heralded the beginning of a seismic shift in sexual politics.

Swedish academic Carl Cederstrom found a unique way to understand what was happening.

He assigned himself a task: to spend one month reading "about women's experiences, to stay silent for awhile, and hopefully learn something."

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of the writers on Carl Cederstrom's list during his month reading feminist classics. (Avery Cunliffe)

Cederstrom is an associate professor at Stockholm University who studies self-help movements. He's co-author of The Wellness Syndrome and Dead Man Working, and is currently working on a book called The Happiness Fantasy. 

Cederstrom says he wants to avoid being "a white dude who read a dozen or so feminist books" and now goes around "mansplaining feminism" and seeking praise. 

But he did have insights into what we — particularly men — miss, if we don't familiarize ourselves with feminist writing.

Cederstrom wrote about his reading project The Guardian in a piece called "How to be a good man: what I learned from a month of reading the feminist classics."

He joined Michael Enright to share what he learned.

Click "listen," above, to hear to the interview.

The books that Cederstrom read that month:

1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792

2. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949

3. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, 1963

4. The Female EunuchGermaine Greer, 1970

5. Woman Hating, Andrea Dworkin, 1974

6. Women, Race and Class, Angela Davis, 1981

7. Sister OutsiderAudre Lorde, 1984

8. Gender Trouble, Judith Butler, 1990

9. Feminism Is for Everybody, bell hooks, 2000

10. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, 2013

11. Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit, 2014

12. Bad FeministRoxane Gay, 2014

13. We Should All Be FeministsChimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2014


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