Saturday, September 18, 2010
Anna's review of 'Full Frontal Feminism' by Jessica Valenti
Title: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide To Why Feminism Matters
Author: Jessica Valenti
Publisher: Seal Press, 1997
How I got this book: I read it at college then I bought it.
I gotta make a confession: I used to think feminism was ridiculous. Whenever I heard it mentioned I'd roll my eyes, and I had several arguments with people where I said that it was just a bunch of crazy man-haters. It wasn't until I was forced to read this book for sociology that my views on feminism began to change. I realized that everything I'd thought about feminism was wrong and that feminism is, in fact, a gift to both women and men. We just have to accept and embrace it. Valenti's book addresses the many myths that exist about feminism and broadly describes what feminism is about.
The book begins that many people are feminists but don't identify as one for a variety of different reasons. Reasons such as they believe the myths about feminism like every feminist is a lesbian who hates men, all feminists are ugly, etc. Those myths just that- myths, and by the end of the book, Valenti will have you convinced that there is not a shred of truth in those myths. Valenti then goes on to discuss how things like pop culture, sexuality, work, and violence against women relate to feminism. The book is directed at an American audience. I'm not from America but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book. One of the best things about this book is its language. Valenti writes very colloquially; it reads like a conversation you are having with your best friend who is telling you about feminism. Another wonderful thing about 'Full Frontal Feminism' is that at the end of most of the chapters, there is information about where one can find out more about a topic, as well as how one can help out. Throughout the book I found myself nodding along agreeing with Valenti and being able to relate to most of it. For instance, what woman hasn't heard things like wearing a short skirt/dress/top means a man may thing you are 'asking for it', what woman doesn't fear walking on her own at night in a city because she's afraid she'll be raped? As Valenti rightly says, rape is seen as an inevitable part of life instead of an epidemic that needs to be stopped.
Valenti also talks about men and feminism. Men are harmed by patriarchy also and as Valenti says, "their problems are our problems, ladies". The first time I read this book this chapter was one of the biggest shocks to me, which I feel really bad about now. She talks about how men are affected by patriarchy as they are taught that they must never show emotions, that they must be aggressive, dominant, be the bread-winner, etc. I really wish that Valenti had talked about men and feminism more, but the one chapter she wrote on it is excellent.
Overall I loved this book. One of the few things I disliked about it is that she doesn't write enough about patriarchy and capitalism- capitalism reinforces patriarchy and vice versa. That aside though, it is an excellent book. It's interesting, gives a broad introduction to feminism, and uses many concrete examples to back up the points made. I'll always have a soft spot for this book as it made me believe in feminism. As soon as I read this book I insisted that all of my friends read it and now we all identify as feminists! For this, I will be forever grateful to Valenti.
Rating: 4 stars
What does feminism mean to you? Do you find yourself thinking of the same stereotypes about feminists?