I’ve debated for a while whether to give this a 4 or 5 star rating on Goodreads. It was a hard decision, but ultimately, while it’s not the greatest literary work ever – it’s hit me in all the places that matter. My personal enjoyment, what I’m taking away from reading this book, far outweigh the little things that I didn’t like so much about it (it’s a bit shouty, and I’m not really a fan of lots of swearing). Let’s be honest it is not going to become a academic tome of feminist philosophy but underneath all the jokes is a ‘short, sharp feminist agenda’. It’s mainly for the humour with a healthy whack of feminism that I ultimately decided on 5 stars – I can overlook bad language and a stuck caps-lock key.
I had been wanting to read this for ages but it wasn’t until I found solace in reading through the universities Feminist Society page after a particularly awful incident on a bus that I thought “right, that’s it, enough is enough. I am reclaiming myself” or somesuch – the details are sketchy at best – that I actively went in pursuit of it.
It was at this point that I became much more aware of the inequalities in the world around me. I know I’m lucky in that the environment I’ve grown up in has been surrounded by absolutely amazing women – following the maternal side I think we’re pretty much all women going back 3 or 4 generations – growing up in and amongst this matriarchy has both benefited and sheltered me somewhat as growing up, we were all people. There wasn’t such a thing as inequality, it was all sunshine and rainbows in my little world – where it was perfectly okay to do whatever I wanted. My sister was partial to pretending to be a soldier, even then I played ‘house’ with two mummies. It was beautiful, wonderful childhood where everything just was, it’s how I thought real life looked and I know how lucky I am to have had that.
So, having actively embraced feminism in a bear hug, reading this book was my first ‘real’ step in to fully understanding what is being called ‘new wave feminism’. It’s been billed as part-memoir, part-rant and I can fully understand why, as we follow snippets of Caitlin’s life from the age of 13 she talks about the challenges of every day womanhood – underwear, grooming, love, motherhood, career, abortion, plastic surgery and failed princess fantasies – and using them as doorways into what feminism means today. It’s a refreshing, and brutally honest read.
Basically, to answer the question “but are you a feminist?” is this, it boils down to two questions:
1) Do you have a vagina, and
2) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If answering yes to both of the above then – congratulations – you’re a feminist. My opinion – and from reading this book I believe the opinion of Caitlin also – is that women need to reclaim this word. It needs to no longer be a dirty word associated with men hating and women being better than men – it’s about equality.
She also answers the pertinent questions of “What do I call my vagina?” and “What do I call my boobs?” – which are of course very important things to discuss. There are chapters on role models (Lady Gaga – yes, Katie Price – no) and fashion (Doc Martens go with everything). It is literally a pint-sized book on everything a woman needs to know.
This book is one I’m going to pass along to friends and family – of that I am absolutely certain. Every woman should read this, to be honest everyone – man or woman – should read this. But women first, because when women realise that they are feminists, that it’s not a bad thing, that will be half the battle won. Recently there has been a lot of press surrounding “women who don’t need feminism” – which angers me greatly. Seriously, just read this book. Read it.