Tag Archives: Feminism

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently

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The fiercest new voice of feminism – Emer O’Toole is the perfect mix of Caitlin Moran, Germaine Greer and Lena Dunham.

Emer O’Toole once caused a media sensation by growing her body hair and singing ‘Get Your Pits Out For The Lads’ on national TV. You might think she’s crazy – but she has lessons for us all. Protesting against the ‘makey-uppy-bulls**t’ of gender conditioning, Emer takes us on a hilarious, honest and probing journey through her life – from cross-dressing and head shaving, to pube growing and full-body waxing – exploring the performance of femininity to which we are confined.

Funny, provocative and underpinned with rigorous academic intelligence, this book shows us why and how we should all begin gently to break out of gender stereotypes. Read this book, open up your mind and, hopefully, free your body. GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS is a must-read wake-up call for all young women (and men)

After reading this book, one question came to mind; do we still live in such a sexist world that the arguments in this book are ‘controversial’ or even ‘new’? I did enjoy O’Toole’s way of relating the issues to her own world, but there was nothing in this book that I haven’t read, heard about or even thought of before. However, it is still a good book for those who are embarking on the scary world of feminism for the first time.

Each topic is a simple one that many women experience on a constant basis; from body hair to the roles around the house. Even if you don’t relate to every single experience, there would probably be one that feels close to home for you. I mean, I don’t have sex so I cannot relate to the concept of male not considering the female’s pleasure during intimacy, I am sure it is an issue that many others can face. There is a reason each chapter is in the book, and I hope it will make at least one person reconsider aspects of their life.

My favourite part of the book is when O’Toole examines a discussion that took place when she was in her teenage years and made an argument that sexism wasn’t an issue anymore. Just be including this scene, she explores how sexual equality is a complicated issue and thoughts can change as we mature. I believe in the good of people. Most people aren’t strongly sexist and think men are far superior to women. We just live in a society where it’s easy to slip into the roles that are expected from us.

There is still a comedic sense to the book. In one section, O’Toole actually uses a direct blog post from a few years and it includes a vernacular that I can only laugh at. This break from the seriousness of the discussion is essential to remind us that we are still talking about a pretty good society compared to others. We’re not talking about a lot of horrific exceptionally sexist situations, but that doesn’t mean the residue of patriarchy has disappeared.

One idea that I found fascinating is that O’Toole is more critical on female authors than she is of male authors. It is the one point where I had to stop and think. Do I do that? Am I like her and think that men are so much smarter than me that I can’t possibly compete with them intellectually but I have a chance with women? I like to think not, but it is something I will need to consider in the future.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it didn’t really change the way I viewed life, so I’ll give it 8/10.

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Another Celebration of Women

Women are incredible. You can have a ‘Top 1,000’ influential women’ and not be anywhere close to including all of them. Pier9′s <i>Women who Changed the World: Fifty Inspirational Women Who Shaped HIstory </i>is one of the myriad of books encourages awareness of brilliant women. Even though I was questioning a few of the inclusions in this book, it was still a solid foundation for readers. If you have limited knowledge on people like Rosa Parks and Marie Curie, this is a great book for you.

The range of women is reasonable. This comes in the form of women of colour such as Mary Seacole and Benazir Bhutto, but also in their occupations. Politicians, fashion designers, entertainers, activists, scientists and athletes are included with equal respect so I’m sure you will find a few that you find interesting.

The layout was formulaic, which can be boring for many people, but I enjoyed it. It made each reading feel like a ritual and if I didn’t care about the individual, I knew which parts to skip. Even if you didn’t want the three page explanation, a simple glance at the introduction page will give you a solid understanding of the woman.

As each woman is given three pages (timeline included), you won’t get as much information as you would of you read a biography. However, a lot of their life is introduced. Sometimes the negative aspects are included, which is very important as it makes the book feel like more than just a shrine to the women.

As there are so many great women in history, the way the book was presented was informative but predictable. However, they were smart by admitting the issue at the introduction where they stated ‘we hope the choices made by our researches will prompt thought and discussion’. So, who do you think is constantly snubbed from influential women lists

Score: 7.3/10

Your Skirt’s Too Short

Illustration by Kartazina Babis

Hopefully you know that sexism still exists in western societies. If not, or you want to learn more about the topic, Emily Maguire’s Your Skirt’s Too Short is a great inclusive book to assist you in your journey. Maguire uses standard creative non-fiction techniques to explain issues such as work, porn, appearances, how sexism affects men and many more.

When it comes to these kind of books, half the enjoyment comes out of it challenging your views of the world. Unfortunately it didn’t, but that didn’t mean I learned something interesting. I still cannot believe that a Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute exists and that some people found the models in Total Girl sexual. Actually, here’s a warning; you might hate society a little bit more once you finish the book.

One of the best parts of the book is that it is inclusive. She includes LGBTQA+ individuals and a Muslim woman while making arguments. It’s still not perfect as she includes the word ‘cripple’ when making a joke and doesn’t really mention how feminism history is different to different races. The worst example, however, is one that I might be looking too deep into. In one chapter, she uses the subheading ‘First they came for the homosexuals’ and ‘Then they came for me’, which appears to be a reference to the Martin Niemöller quote. I may understand why she did it, but comparing our treatment towards the homosexuals today to the treatment of Jewish (or even homosexual) population in WWII Germany makes me uncomfortable. Apart from these small issues, knowing that she has at least attempted to include different kind of people makes her a lot better than other ‘White Feminists’.

Her voice does come through, which is great. She talks about her own experiences and mentions multiple times that everyone makes mistakes and should be accountable to them – even herself. She has a great way of putting herself into the text, but makes sure it isn’t all about her. However, it does become slightly monotonous towards the end. Maybe if she was slightly more passionate in certain areas, her otherwise pensive tone would be stronger and it would make the read more enjoyable.

The book is targeted towards High School students, and this makes me uncomfortable in certain areas. I have to imagine myself as an awkward teenager and some sections of the book would disturb me (mainly the discussion of the vulva). Then again, it depends on the teenager. For example, if a teen is really into porn, they should read the chapter ‘Pornstars and the Women Who Love them’. Male teenagers should also read ‘Boy Trouble’ to prevent from from becoming Meninists. If you are a teenager, it’s up to you as to whether or not you’re ready to deal with some graphic details.

Despite the minor issues, it’s still a decent read and is one of the best explanations of feminism I have read. I’m giving it 8.7/10.

Question: What is the most sexists encounter you have experienced?