By: Amber Rowe
I would first like to credit this book with pushing me out of the closet of feminism. Before I read this book, I had a lot of feminist views – I just wasn’t entirely comfortable with them. When I was younger, and had no sense of what things were wrong or demonized in society, I was loud and proud. I was very quick to tell a boy off if he had done something sexist.
In grade 3, a boy asked me to get off the bench I was sitting on in gym class. Seeing no other issue for me to sit there, I immediately decided it was an issue of sexism. I informed him using my knowledge of Heritage Minute commercials, “Before 1890, women weren’t considered persons. But now we are, so I’m not moving anywhere.” I clearly had strong sentiments, though the date may have been arbitrary.
But somewhere along the way, the ideas lost palatability. I can’t even frame it with an exact moment, but I know it happened. Eventually I became uncomfortable with the word feminism.
Probably around the same time I realized guys my age were uncomfortable with my intelligence. Around that same time, the skirts got shorter. After reading the book by Jessica Valenti, I more fully understood what I already knew back then. Being feminist, just like being intellectual, simply was NOT cool.
Valenti saw this all around her and so forth came her book, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters. It carries a very conversational tone. The use of profanity throughout its pages certainly illustrates this. Yet this is probably it’s most powerful tool. Not necessarily the swearing, but it’s ability to disarm it’s audience, especially those who may find academic jargon intimidating. As much as I love reading intellectual text, jargon always kills my desire or ability for it to sink in. Not in this book.
And the issues? Nothing short of spectacular. She does politics with coverage of female politicians and first-ladies. She does the education system with refusing to implement sex-education programs that go beyond the simple promotion of abstinence. She does the glass ceiling, the pill, and also gives gal-pal advice when it comes to dating as a feminist.
Valenti’s quick, pop-cultural wit combined with identification of the issues makes the book powerful. Informality is the word here, and yet, so is learning.
I recommend this book to anyone with any concept of feminism. That’s right. You hate feminists? Read this book.
You want to learn about feminism but hate reading? You won’t hate reading this book. You think you might be feminist? ABSOLUTELY read this book.
I will however put one restriction on my recommendation, and that is… perhaps this not an inter-generational book. The keywords here are “hip” and “profane” – not everyone’s cup of tea.
So don’t hand it to your grandparents hoping to enlighten. If they see it on their coffee table, they will feel obliged to turn it over and hide it with another title. Like my grandfather did. But then again, the words “full frontal” combined with a naked hip-line could be considered a more provocative cover…
Here is a conversation with author Jessica Valenti about the book on her own website, Feministing.com.