I was intrigued when I came across the title of Sexy Feminism on Netgalley a couple of months ago. It seemed to almost be a perfect fit for me as I had been looking for something new and different but also something that would reflect the things that I had received an education in. According to the brief synopsis, this was “not your mother’s feminism”, and instead was an offering of a brand new feminism. One that was more accessible, cool, and sexy. I wasn’t exactly sure what was to be meant by that but I was definitely interested in finding out.
I have to admit that I have had to read a lot of feminist literature throughout my schooling. I’ve read some of the “classics” as well as some of the more new works. I’ve also read articles in feminist based magazines such as Ms. Magazine, and I’ve had to do several different research papers so my opinion of what I was reading. I really did try to enjoy it especially since it came across in a very conversational tone and was relatively easy to read. Authors Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph do a really good job of making what they are discussing relatable. They curse, they tell personal stories, and they don’t dumb things down too much for the reader. Oh, and the snark is abundant, believe me!
I guess in a way the fact that Sexy Feminism is very simplistic makes it very approachable and will make it a decent introductory feminist novel. It is useful in a sense that it gives you a lot of background information on many practices that are seen as normal for women now such as plastic surgery, waxing, and make up. Each chapter has a set of very clear points that the authors stick with in order to explain if what they are discussing can be seen as feminist or not. Yet, I still felt like I was always waiting for something more.
There is SO much more to feminism than love, success, and style. These are not the most important issues that an individual should be dealing with. I’m not saying that these issues may not be important to others but to me not so much. I’m more the equality part, and the dismantling of patriarchy personally. But I can see how a viewpoint like this would be refreshing to some, and that is why I said that this book might make a decent introductory feminist novel. Is it really helping in my opinion? Not so much. Also, as eye catching as the title might be, I can’t help but wonder if that is one of the biggest flaws of the entire book. I mean, if you have to fully describe something as “sexy” in order to make it interesting to an audience, is it worth it? Or are you just buying into the preconceived guidelines that you are trying to break down?
For me, feminism is something that is still very much necessary in our society. There are still so many things that need to be broken down, fixed, and changed in order for our society to become a better environment for all. And for me, feminism does not need the label of sexiness in order for these things to be accomplished. In fact, in many ways I feel that a label such as that will only hurt the cause, and will help further marginalize us in the eyes of a patriarchal society. For some, Sexy Feminism may be a good introductory feminist text but, it should NOT be the only one. There are many other texts which will help provide a full well rounded feminist learning experience. I encourage you to research them and check them out!
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Sexy Feminism by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph:
Wrapped Up In Books: “Ultimately, this guide for “girls” is not something I’d recommend to anyone. Readers can find the same information for free on blogs and there is nothing particularly insightful about the way they present it.”
Rachel Warzala: “For this reason, I hope Sexy Feminism isn’t just a throwaway book, and that some young women previously turned off by the word “feminist” give the term and its underlying beliefs a second shot.”
The YA Kitten: “Most chapters have very clear points they stick to while explaining the intricacies of what does/doesn’t make it feminist.
Still, my answer to a lot of their chapters is this: “Yeah, and…?”“