A Mixtape for Smashing the Patriarchy


Back in my day, we made each other mix CDs. My best friend Jess made me one when we went off to college, and I made a stack of unsent ones for the girl I was in love with (and didn’t realize that that’s the feeling I was having! Ahh, adolescence.)

But these days, I find myself turning to books, collecting books to read my way out of a feeling, or into a mood, or through a situation. I play the same song on loop, over and over and over again. I listen to a podcast on my commute to work to feel a little less alone in the world, that my feelings are valid and other people are feeling them too.  

And right now, I really want some books, music and podcasts for smashing the patriarchy. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even know that I could be this angry, or this tired, and still be moving. And sometimes I’m not. A friend texted me that she rage-napped the other day. I rage-bought more houseplants (it’s becoming a problem. Maybe that’s another post.) But I’ve also been throwing myself headfirst into media that makes me feel less alone in the world.

There is value in togetherness. There is value in community. There is value in validation of your emotions.

So here it is. A Mixtape for Smashing the Patriarchy. A few podcasts. A few books. A little bit of music. Things that are keeping me going, and I hope keep you going.

1. Hysteria – Podcast from Cooked Media

A political podcast from the media company founded by former Obama staffers, Hysteria contains no cis male voices. You’ll hear from women, non-binary and trans people, but no cis men. They discuss issues ranging from female candidates, to the stories that women carry with them, to getting birth control, and maternity leave. Erin Ryan is the host, but there’s a rotating set of co-hosts who are racially (and religiously) diverse. You’ll learn things, while also feeling your rage is justified and validated. It’s like a girls’ night…but you can be in your pajamas, in the dark, in your bed, with all the blankets.

2. Girls Resist: A Guide to Activism, Leadership and Starting a Revolution by KaeLyn Rich

Written by a queer woman of color, ‘Girls Resist’ is a fun, upbeat book about getting involved, getting active, engaging in conversations, and knowing where to start. Sure, it’s aimed for teens. But I found it a reassuring and engaging read, somewhere to start, and something to refer friends to when they were looking to get involved in politics for the first time in their lives. Trying to be a good ally? Rich’s got tips for you. And after each section, there’s a list of key takeaways. It’ll walk you through lobbying, calling your reps, networking, getting started in community activism, and talking to your friends. Ready to resist? Let’s do it.

3. Sooo Many White Guys – Podcast from WNYC Studios

Brought to you by 2 Dope Queens, this podcast interviews artists (and comedians and journalists and others) who aren’t cis white men (but every season DOES feature one…you know. Your token white guy.). They interview everyone from Tyra Banks to Terry Gross (they called her Ter-Ter and I died laughing). It’s laugh out loud funny, surprisingly vulnerable, and endlessly interesting. And I hope, like me, you’ll be introduced to new comedians, new artists, and new people that you seek out elsewhere.

4. Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman

Full disclosure, I haven’t quite finished this one yet, but if you’re looking for a fantastic, if painful and infuriating at times, read about women’s pain inside the medical establishment, this book is excellent. Norman puts her own personal experience inside the broader context of how women, their pain, and their health are treated. Sure, this will make you sad and angry. But it’ll also give you the language and empowerment to talk about your own pain and advocate for yourself with your doctors.

5. She’s All Fat — Podcast

A key part to smashing the patriarchy? Smashing fatphobia both in our lives, and in society. Smashing the idea that fatness is inherently ‘unhealthy’. And this podcast? Really amazing at doing that. April and Sophia are funny, relatable, honest, and super interesting. I’ve learned so much (as a thin person navigating this world) and it’s been very helpful in helping break down a lot of my own internalized fatphobia. Thanks to Julie Murphy, YA author of Dumplin’ (and other books!), for putting this podcast on my radar.

6. Dirty Computer — Album by Janelle Monae

If you somehow missed the music videos for PYNK and Make Me Feel, feel free to look those up. Monae’s songwriting, beats, and lucid sexuality in this album are addictive. She unabashedly Black, singing “Remember when they said I looked too mannish/Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it” and unabashedly queer in the Make Me Feel video, and unabashedly feminist and sexy in the lyrics of PYNK. If you’ve never listened to Monae, or you’ve been a long time fan, this album has something for everyone. I’ve written most of this post over several days with this on loop.

7. Eloquent Rage by Brittany Cooper

Society tone-polices Black women from the moment they’re born. But Cooper starts to see through Black women in the spotlight that rage can be a tool, something empowering, a moment of growth, a place to tap into self-worth. This book is worth the read by Black women and non-Black women alike. If you’re white or NBPOC, learning when you unintentionally (or intentionally) tone-police and how the Black women in your life may bend around your unspoken rules so you can make space for their rage, their anger, and through that, their voices is vital toward smashing the patriarchy.

8. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Solnit’s a must-read author for me–her Men Explains Things To Me could also be on this list–and I loved this book so much as an ebook that I just bought it as a paperbook too. This book opens by saying, “Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.” The book delves into the history of hope, joy, resistance and activism, illuminating times in history, stories you may know and stories that you may not know. Solnit’s in it for the long haul, and she urges you to be as well, while giving you all the quotable quotes to cling to when your hope dwindles.

9. Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride

This is a heartbreaking and uplifting memoir of coming out, stepping into the fight for LGBTQ equality, and being a trans woman in this world. Whether you know a lot about the LGBTQ community and specifically the trans fight for equality and recognition or you’re new to this subject, McBride’s story will educate you and entertain you. It’s beautiful written, if painful at points, and I couldn’t put it down. In a time when trans rights are under direct attack, McBride’s touch points on these topics will help you join the fight.

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