My son bought this book for me – knowing how annoyed a certain book and film with a similar title have made me recently! It sometimes feels these days that people don’t like to admit to being feminists, that it’s somehow overly political and radical, but I am a feminist and I’m proud to be one and proud that my son has the feminist symbol tattooed on his arm (brought him up right!). And I’m angry, very angry, at the way feminism is currently portrayed and diminished, with terms like feminazis and bleating ‘whatabouttery’ every time someone mentions that domestic violence is wrong and that there is still a pay gap in 2015! 2015!
I read a lot, mostly fiction, and have a TBR list that I doubt will ever be finished, so I haven’t read any political/cultural/social books in a long time. Of course, when I was younger I read lots of feminist works – Naomi Wolf, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinman, I even struggled through Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’. But the world has changed and feminism has changed too.
‘Fifty Shades of Feminism’, is a timely collection of essays that provides a small window on feminist thoughts and ideas today. The format meant that I could dip in and out of it, reading when I had the time – a real bonus for me. The compilation comprises of essays written by many different women from different cultures, with different experiences and different opinions about feminism and what it means to be a feminist. With contributions from women working as novelists, barristers, politicians, comedians, and doctors, among others, and featuring such well-known women as Joan Bakewell, Diana Quick, Meera Syal, Kathy Lette and Sandi Toksvig (her description of the young girl in high heels at the graduation ceremony is brilliant) there are definitely fifty shades of feminism here. Some of it I agreed with whole-heartedly, nodding along as I read, glad to see that other women feel the same way as I do. There were other contributions that made me cross and that I really didn’t enjoy – but I’m glad that the editors gave space to such a diversity of opinion and experience.
I have a sixteen-year-old daughter and the world she’s about to set out into is a scary place. It seems unimaginable to me that women are still treated like second class citizens (and they really are, and too many of us are far too complacent about it) and it frightens me that some young women think that they no longer need feminism. This book shows that they do – and is a fantastic way to introduce young women (and men) to the ideas behind feminism.
Read it, enjoy it and pass it on to your daughters and your sons.
And as for that other book – all I have to say is this:
Find a copy here
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Thanks so much for sharing this.
I have three very different daughters. None of them would hesitate to call herself a feminist. (So proud!) But it does infuriate me that this is even still a topic of conversation. (Wonder if that’s how the early suffragettes felt when they looked at their grandchildren’s world…)
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I know – it’s ridiculous isn’t it? And I’m so glad your daughters are happy to call themselves feminists; I have a hard time understanding why any woman wouldn’t. I love this quote, it says everything I think only she says it much much better 🙂
“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman
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