Image via JessicaValenti.com
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Boston bombings. The Waco explosion. The MIT shooting. And that’s just the recent horrors in America. It’s been terribly heartbreaking this past week, so overwhelming you wonder whether the world is falling apart right in front of you. These tragedies make any book review simply a speck of triviality, but the blog must go on…
And to make things more light-hearted given the nature of the topics about to be discussed, I’ll be inserting music videos of what I consider my favorite feminist songs!
Starting with “Independent Women, Pt. 1” by Destiny’s Child!
What Jessica Valenti does in Full Frontal Feminism (2007) is drive home the fact that you shouldn’t be ashamed to call yourself a feminist, because everyone should fight for equal rights between the sexes.
She starts off the very first page contemplating why it is that the absolute worst names you could call women AND men are all derogatory toward women only. “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 f***ed up.”
“U + Ur Hand” by P!nk
Hopefully, you’ll immediately be engrossed in her argumentation, shaking your fist with agreement. The chapters of this book address essential aspects of women’s rights, including the demand for reproductive freedom and the battle against the materialistic beauty, fashion, and wedding industry complexes.
And importantly, she discusses how sexism impacts men as well. Upholding traditional gender stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” further strengthens patriarchy and keeps everyone from reaching their true potential.
Valenti got her start as the founder of Feministing.com, so she brings plenty of social science stats to the table. Here are some of the most powerful:
- “One in six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. (Keep in mind, rape is one of the most underreported crimes, so that statistic is likely too low.)”
- “A 2006 report showed that 87% of ‘pregnancy crisis’ centers–which have received more than $30 million in federal funding–provided false or misleading information about abortion.”
- “The government stat reporting that women make only 76 cents to a man’s dollar comes from data that looks at women and men who work full-time. It doesn’t include women who took time off or who worked part-time. So there.”
- “For every year a woman in her twenties waits to have children, her lifetime earnings increase by 10 percent.”
“I Don’t Need a Man” by The Pussycat Dolls
It’s hard not to become filled with rage reading about all the sexual inequality in this country, but what can you do? Here are some of the ways Valenti believes you can make a difference:
- Support the pro-choice movement by voting down restrictive reproductive legislation and the sexist politicians who push it.
- Speak out against abstinence-only education. Teens deserve access to accurate, comprehensive information in order to make knowledgeable decisions about their sex lives.
- Don’t, under any circumstances, believe that a woman deserves to be raped. She can be a naked, drunk prostitute walking down an alley at 2:00 am and she should expect nothing but a hangover in the morning.
- Don’t uphold marriage and motherhood as the only legitimate life paths for women, thereby looking down upon those who choose to be single and childfree.
“King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles
There are many other nuances about feminism that I could discuss, but that’s not the focus of my blog. Women’s rights is just an issue that I feel very strongly about, so please ask me any questions or share your own thoughts in the comment section.
I just wanted to highlight Valenti’s book as an example of fantastic non-fiction that urges you to rethink traditional gender roles and take notice of everyday sexism. She’s a strong, opinionated, passionate woman who refuses to censor herself to sound “ladylike.” Like all the authors this week, you can also follow her on Twitter. I recommend all of her other books as well!
And lastly, if you’re feeling really brave, check out my last favorite feminist song. It’s definitely R-rated so I won’t link to it, but just search for “The Loophole” by comedic female duo Garfunkel and Oates. You’ll either find it hilarious or horrifying–you’ve been warned!