Review: I Call Myself A Feminist

Feminism isn’t a dirty word. You don’t need to be scared of it, or suspect, it doesn’t make you a bad person. Feminism = equality.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem

Becoming a feminist was a difficult process for me, it meant confronting the way I thought about women and our place in the world and that didn’t paint me in the best of lights.

No one wants to be told they are a bad person, and confronting negative thought patterns can put you on the defensive. No one likes the truth at first, the truth requires reflection and acceptance and usually begins with the realisation you’ve done something wrong. Yet, once it sinks in, and you start looking at the world with different eyes you start to see what you’d missed before. It’s empowering, it’s scary, but mostly it’s the best of experiences.

‘Is feminism still a dirty word? We asked twenty-five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women what being a feminist in 2015 means to them.’ GoodReads.

I Call Myself A Feminist (edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Martha Mosse and Alice Stride) is a similar collection of quotes and essays that 50 Shades of Feminism published back in 2013. A mix of people I did and did not recognise. (I like it when I don’t recognise the essayist, it’s easier to see them as people in a similar situation to my own – rather than famous.) Quotes from Feminists old and new, Pankhurst to Watson.

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum – not as two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are, we can be freer, and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.” Emma Watson.

This is a diverse selection of stories and it’s hard not to feel empowered and encouraged by what they are saying. But mostly, it’s nice to read something from women that say it’s okay – natural – to think the way you do. I highlighted so much of this book – enough to make this review solely quotes.

If you want an introduction to feminism that isn’t bogged down in intellectualism (nothing wrong with that of course, but doesn’t make for the ideal entry). This is it, this is feminism.

Of the book, the following made the biggest impression on me, and it needs sharing. This is why I need feminism:

“What is the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank. OK, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term ‘mangina’. Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” Jessica Valenti.

Why do you need feminism?

 

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9 Comments on "Review: I Call Myself A Feminist"

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Kya
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Wow, that last quote that you mentioned is really powerful and makes the point so clear! I am interested to read this. Feminism is so important and it’s terrible that so many people think of it as a bad thing. We are not trying to dominate the world, we are trying to make it equal for everyone. It kind of pains me that even today, after all this time that there is still not equality. I just hope that in the next 50 years, that future generations will have that equality and not still be battling.

majoringinliterature
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This sounds like a really great read. That last quote was particularly insightful. It really is disturbing to see the way we’ve instinctively accepted the idea that “Being a woman is the ultimate insult”. I think that’s why feminism is so important: it’s so easy to slip into the patterns of thought that we’ve been schooled in since birth, the ones that teach us that because someone is not male/white/heterosexual/able-bodied that they somehow have less right to be treated as a human being.

Jillian
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I have to agree with the others that the last quote is POWERFUL.

Jenny @ Reading the End
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I’d never encountered that top Gloria Steinem quote before, but I love it. I call myself a feminist because I always did. I remember hitting college and a friend’s roommate told me feminism was bullshit. And I said, “But voting?” and she said, “Oh, I don’t vote anyway.” I just gaped at her; I didn’t even know what to say and had no idea “feminism” was a bad thing to anyone. (I was sheltered, I admit!)

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