Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies)

October 15, 2018  • 

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I am a feminist. It’s basically a key aspect of my personality. I don’t remember exactly where I heard of this book (perhaps Emma Watson’s book club?) but I’m glad I pre-ordered it! It showed up at my door on publication day and I was pleasantly surprised.

This is a decent sized book, comprised of over 50 written pieces (essays, poems, and other creative writing) about feminism, curated by Scarlett Curtis. 

I usually go into these hyped feminist books with a grain of skepticism as they tend to lean into the category of white feminism. But I found this anthology to be fairly well rounded in terms of representation. It’s one of the more intersectional of the more marketable books I’ve read on the subject.

A highlight for me was Keira Knightley’s essay on her experience giving birth, which really stuck with me despite the fact that I don’t have a child. Now, this next bit might be a slight spoiler, but since Keira is a “proper” celebrity, this essay made the news. The sensationalised, clickbait news. In it, Keira discusses how she gave birth around the same time as the Duchess of Cambridge. It points out how within hours of her body being torn apart, while she was still likely to be bleeding from being torn apart, Kate was made to parade in front of the world’s press. Sensationalist headlines from publications that clearly hate women said that Keira “slammed,” “blasted,” and “took aim,” at Kate. When the clear meaning of Keira’s words went well beyond the Duchess herself, and was a comment on how women as a whole are forced to hide their pain and look pretty. Especially when you consider how childbirth is barely ever spoken about, despite being one of the most traumatic things a person may experience. 

It’s typical, and unsurprising, that the media would go out of their way to misinterpret and misrepresent this essay, and further proves Keira’s point, and the point of many essays within the book.

Another interesting piece was author Helen Fielding’s revival of Bridget Jones. It takes a look back at Bridget’s past, through her 2018 diary, and points out how areas in the original book were decidedly un-feminist. It was a fantastic way to look at how attitudes change, and how rapidly media that was once acceptable is now seen as outdated and problematic.

I enjoyed the balance of emotion in the book. With a topic that can invoke a lot of feelings, there was a good chance that the whole thing could have been… well, a bit of a downer. But there were funny pieces to bring a bit of levity to the subject. In fact, the book is divided into “stages of feminism” to mirror the Kübler-Ross model of stages of grief, so you can get a rough idea of which sections may be a bit heavier than others. 

For some reason, I found the first 75% of the book easier to get through than the 2nd. I devoured the first 4 sections on my morning and evening commute. With the last 2 sections – Action and Education – I found it a bit harder, instead only reading bits here and there over the course of a few days. I’m not sure if this is a comment on Action and Education being something that took me longer to process, or if I simply find other things to distract me when I’m not trapped on a train between London and Brighton. But I figured it’s worth noting.

Otherwise, I would highly recommend this book, to people in all stages of their feminist journey. Naturally I think a particular emphasis on the younger crowd is ideal. After all, there are pieces written by Zoe Sugg and Tanya Burr, that I’m sure are designed to draw in the late-teens and early-20s crowd. Shame about Topshop pulling their support of the book, which could have been another huge step toward introducing feminism to young people.

Thank you for reading!

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