Feminist and under thirty

Book review – I Call Myself A Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty 

First published on Alt.

The f word has become something of dangerous one to utter. Far more controversial than the other f word, feminism is no longer something to be proud of, a mark of political and social awareness, but instead seen as a sign of angry, unhinged, dramatic women who like to moan. But why? As the Dalai Lama stated, if you believe in women’s rights and equality, you’re a feminist.

I Call Myself A Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty collates essays from twenty five women under thirty, and numerous quotes from other individuals from Suzy Orbach to Mary Wollstonecraft about what feminism means to them, and why they are not embarrassed to use the word. Martha Mosse, daughter of author Kate Mosse, describes how she lived a life upholding feminist ethos before it became labelled as one, and Amy Annette writes a short monologue about feminism is about taking up space and owning your world with your body. From Amy Annette’s urging to ‘own your space’ to June Eric Udorie’s discussion of how religion intersects with her experience of being a woman, Yas Necah’s assertion of herself as being a ‘angry, feminazi, cat loving, queer, gender non conforming hippy’ there are as many different explanations of feminism in here as there are females.

This for Caroline Kent is what the appeal is, that feminism allows for complexity and ‘does not expect I smooth my edges of fit its box.’ All the stories in this collection are aware of how society and systems have shaped the lives of women, and that it can be very difficult to untangle the rules imposed by ourselves and those around us. Gender does not exist alone, intersecting with race, class, disability and the other categories that we put ourselves into, but it would be blinded to believe that the experience of being a female in the world is not fundamentally different to that had we born a man.

The book does not place value to any one’s experience over another. Casual sexism is not deemed inferior to rape culture, because as Alice Stride says, ‘words are the fabric of everything….the heart of life’ and gendered slurs build up into dangerous actions and systemised oppression. The actions of political activists are as important as those who stand up to their fathers. Motherhood is celebrated, and spinsterhood reclaimed. Body image discussed, and intellectual discussion explored.

Anyone who has a voice is encouraged to speak up, and that’s what this book provides the platform for twenty five women, and inspires many more, to do so. It’s a conversation, and one where the f word is more than welcome.

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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