Review: Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis
This book was actually much better than I expected. Perhaps I underestimated it because it was bright pink and I found it in the young adult section (and my Waterstones edition even had pink sprayed edges). I suppose I was one of the irritating people that assumed a book couldn't be taken seriously because it's bright pink - which is evidently the point of the title. But a lot of these essays were fantastic.
We hear from an enormous range of women from different backgrounds: black women, white women, muslim women, trans women, gay women, disabled women - Being disabled means that sometimes I can't get in the room. Being a woman means that sometimes my voice isn't heard when I'm in that room.
We see the essays are in a multitude of formats: some are funny, some talk of their experiences with sexism, some use metaphorical storytelling techniques, some are diary entries. There is even a playlist of feminist anthems and the best times to listen to them to get you gassed. Helen Fielding allows us to revisit Bridget Jones in 2018 and we have a fictional story written by Strawberry, the female MI5 agent from Quantum of Solace. There are interviews, poetry, psychological studies, feminist comebacks and historical background on waves one through four of the feminist movement. At the end of the book, there is even a list of feminist book recommendations from Emma Watson's bookclub. The essay that will definitely stick with me for a long time was titled Tell Him by Jameela Jamil. She encourages women to raise their sons as feminists and the various things men should know to inevitably grow up to be feminists themselves. Movements like this need allies (not to say women need a helping hand from men, that is!) There are essays that will make you shake your head in disbelief.
Here is a list of only some of the messed up things Trump has said. And let's remember these were all things said publicly, not even behind closed doors:
1991 'You know, it doesn't really matter what [they] write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass.'
2005 [about Miss USA Beauty Pageant] 'If you're looking for a rocket scientist, don't tune in tonight, but if you're looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch.'
2006 [about Rosie O'Donnell] 'If I were running The View, I'd fire Rosie. I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, "Rosie, you're fired"'
2015 'If Hilary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?'
2015 [about Carly Fiorina] 'Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?' Not to mention the infamous 'grab 'em by the pussy' remark.
In America, white women make 78 cents to every dollar that white men make. Black women make 64 cents to every dollar white men make, and Latinas make 58 cents to every dollar white men make.
Some of the essays will make you laugh (I definitely recommend the Kat Dennings essay for some lightheartedness), and remind you that being a feminist can be fun. And it's much easier to do if you don't have to take yourself too seriously.
This one was written by a survivor and activist to end FGM (female genital mutilation):
I started my activism with a #MittsOffMyMuff banner. I took another seven-foot-long banner that read 'WE WOULD NOT CUT OFF YOUR DICK, SO DON'T CUT OFF MY CLIT' to the centre of London. A conversation that led to the UK committing £36 million to ending FGM. The Prime Minister said that he was 'committed to ending FGM in a generation' as a result of me turning up at Number 10 dressed as a fanny.
The only thing that stopped this from being a 5 star read for me was simply that I didn't connect and adore every single essay. But so many were thought provoking, moving, engaging, funny and interesting. I would give the book a 4.75 star rating if I could (it's my blog but there seems to be a greater power not allowing my rating system to get too out of hand...).
It's not all serious and hard to read. It's hopeful and positive. It shows how far the movement has come and how empowered and strong these women are now that they have more rights and more opportunities than any previous generation before them.
For any writers/authors/bloggers/vloggers/readers among us, I will leave this as my final message out to you:
When women write about feminism, it can be destructive. We so often write about how our gender limits us, whereas perhaps a better approach is to think about what we can achieve in spite of the way society limits us through its construction of gender norms.
Initial Prediction: 4 stars Final Rating: 4.5 stars Publication Date: 2 October 2018 (my edition: 2020 Waterstones exclusive)
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Genres: Non-Fiction, Essays # of Pages: 364