“I call myself a feminist because for me, the word embodies strength, courage, loyalty and determination.”
Blurb: “Is Feminism still a dirty word? We asked twenty five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women what being feminist in 2015 means to them. Is the word feminist still to be shunned? Is feminism still thought of anti-men rather than pro-human? Is this generation of feminists – outspoken, funny and focused – the best we’ve had for a long while? Has the internet given them a voice and power previously unknown?”
Hello. My name is Charlotte. At the time this post is published, I am twenty two years old. I am a white, Cisgender Bisexual woman, a vegetarian, a book lover, and most importantly, I am a feminist. Upon reading the last identifier, you have had one of two reactions: you have cheered me (and if feeling really good today, punched the air) or you have tutted, rolled your eyes and made comments I’ve heard a thousand times before. Personally, I hope you’ve fallen into the former.
I’ve wanted to get into Feminist Literature for a few months but since no bookshop has shelves dedicated to what is basically a sub-genre, and asking for suggestions led me in the direction of Jane Austen (a dark path I want to avoid), I was left stumped. Then Jeansbookishthoughts received negativity for talking about feminism and so she created a book club called The Feminist Orchestra and suddenly I had found my place. I call Myself A Feminist is the March read.
The book is a collection of essays from various advocates such as Louise O’Neill (author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It) and each chapter is separated by quotes from feminists who haven’t contributed to the book and also provides a great list you can put together of other feminist books to read. The thing that makes this book so great is that it doesn’t just focus on one area of feminism. All bases are covered from growing up in a feminist household, to being raised in Nigeria and encountering women’s issues there, to how they differ from women’s issues in other parts of the world, to including transwomen in feminism, to the idea of consent. This list is just examples of what I can pick out from the top of my head. There’s so much more to this book. I learnt from these essays that everyone has some kind of story: each woman who contributed to this collection not only discussed an area of women’s issues but were able to provide their own account of something that had happened to them regarding that subject. It just made everything more real and highlighted even more just how important feminism is to making society more equal.
There are two chapters that stood out to me the most. The first was “Staring at the ceiling: It’s Not Always as simple as Yes or No” by Abigail Matson – Phippard. This chapter hit a little close to home but tackles the idea of consent; something that tends to be the focus of feminist discussions. Abigail challenges the idea of talking about rape being acceptable but mentioning street harassment is “getting upset over nothing” and how we should turn the idea of negative consent on its head. For example, we shouldn’t be asking “did this person say no?” We should be asking “did this person say yes, I want this?” The second chapter was “What Can Men Do To Support Feminism?” which as you can guess from the title, talks about what men can do to help this social movement and how ingrained some words and ideas are to society that men can identify as feminist but still say problematic things. But let’s be honest, as feminists we’re all trying to do that. It just shows how important it is to include men and not live up to the ridiculous stereotype that we hate men.
Overall, this book was fantastic and despite the very serious topics, it was easy to read and I learnt so much.
“We need feminism because women’s bodies remain politicised, scrutinised, fetishized. There are countless more reasons why we need feminism, infinitely more reasons; and this in itself is another reason that we need feminism.”
For The Feminist Orchestra Book Club click here
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