Top positive review
Inspiring, witty and relatable - finally, a feminist book that I can get behind!
25 October 2018
As a girl I went to a highly academic all-girls school in Oxford and I traversed my teenage years fed up of with feminism. The 'girls are better than boys' and 'down with the patriarchy' -flavored spiel that underpinned on average at least two of our three weekly assemblies really didn't sit right with me - the men in my life were lovely and there was never any suggestion that I would be any less successful than my male counterparts so what was all the fuss about? Coupled with the fact that I was surrounded by brilliant-minded girls, well on their way to academic and professional success, I don't think I ever really believed that sexism was a real issue in the UK. Simply put, I had a privileged upbringing.
Fast-forward a couple of years to an internship I did in London with an events company (who I won't name) and BANG, there it was. Cold-blooded sexism.
Case number one
Manager: Can anybody help me use the staple gun to put up these posters?
*All three female interns raise their hands*
Manager: (Looks around. Sees girls offering to help. Turns to only male intern who is busy doing something else) Denis, come and help me with this.
Case number two
Boy intern's job description: Organising bar stock, arranging schedule for performers, stock take, security etc.
Girl intern's job descriptions: Stand by the door and look pretty.
Case number three
I get (literally) cornered by two very drunk, older men while working. They ask me to join them after the event. I politely decline. They corner me in more tightly and ask again. I politely decline again. They keep pressing me for another 10 minutes. Eventually I catch the eye of the manager, who can clearly see how distressed I am. He does nothing. Finally, the men leave (bored of pestering and getting thirsty). My manager came up to me five minutes later and asked me "What's with the resting bitch-face?" I explain about the two men and he tells me that I should have agreed to go out with them.
Now I know these aren't the most appalling cases of sexism by any means, but this all happened within three days (I quit the internship thereafter) and it was a total shock to me that this kind of stuff REALLY HAPPENS. Sexism is real, and it exists EVERYWHERE. I know this because it continued to happen in my first full-time job in bar (where it was especially bad) and then later in what my mother would describe as my first 'serious job' for a well-respected company.
However, despite this I've still to this day been wary of putting my name next to any feminist material because of the man-hating, bra-burning stigma that so often seems to go hand in hand with descriptions of the average feminist. I don't hate men. I don't believe 'at home mums' should feel ashamed or like they are somehow lesser women for not having full-blown careers and I don't want to walk around bra-less, wearing tampons as earrings.
But I loved about this book and I loved it for the total lack of any of that stuff that I just can't relate to. There was no man-bashing, no listing of all the terrible things the patriarchy has ever done, but a simple message: women should be able to do anything they want without being judged and they shouldn't be ashamed of the things that go hand-in-hand with womanhood. So if you're a bit of a feminism virgin like me, or if you're still forming your opinions (I am!) then this is a great, accessible way to kick-off your research. I really hope that the message in this book will influence this new wave of feminism and I highly recommend this book for all girls, everywhere!
Plus there's a fab reading list at the back so it gets bonus points for that, because who doesn't need more book recommendations?!