I Call Myself A Feminist
Victoria Pepe (Ed, Rachel Holmes (Ed), Amy Annette (Ed), Martha Mosse (Ed), Alice Stride (Ed)
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.
We hear from Laura Bates (of the Everyday Sexism Project), Reni Eddo-Lodge (award-winning journalist and author), Yas Necati (an eighteen-year-old activist), Laura Pankhurst, great-great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and an activist in her own right, comedian Sofie Hagen, engineer Naomi Mitchison and Louise O’Neill, author of the award-winning feminist Young Adult novel Only Ever Yours. Writing about a huge variety of subjects, we have Martha Mosse and Alice Stride on how they became feminists, Amy Annette addressing the body politic, Samira Shackle on having her eyes opened in a hostel for survivors of acid attacks in Islamabad, while Maysa Haque thinks about the way Islam has informed her feminism and Isabel Adomakoh Young insists that women don’t have to be perfect. There are twelve other performers, politicians and writers who include Jade Anouka, Emily Benn, Abigail Matson-Phippard, Hajar Wright and Jinan Younis.
Is the word feminist still to be shunned? Is feminism still thought of as anti-men rather than pro-human? Is this generation of feminists – outspoken, funny and focused – the best we’ve had for long while? Has the internet given them a voice and power previously unknown?
Rachel Holmes’ most recent book is Eleanor Marx: A Life; Victoria Pepe is a literary scout; Amy Annette is a comedy producer currently working on festivals including Latitude; Alice Stride works for Women’s Aid and Martha Mosse is a freelance producer and artist.
One of the best nonfiction reads of the year!
I call myself a feminist – quietly, carefully, almost fearfully… for conflict is not my middle name…well, ok, maybe… sometimes it is. I call myself a feminist – loudly, proudly and want to change the world, for the world to be so much better for everyone! The term feminism/feminist is still so conflicting; a dirty word, conjuring a stereotype (of women emasculating men) that instils a fear that manifests in many forms of violence, aggression and condescension against women who identify with this noun. It is only a word. Fear it not.
But I digress, this review is not about me or my views about feminism this book is about women’s experiences in a global world and why we need more feminists – if you doubt that need I implore you to read this book. If you agree that the world needs more feminists – read this book – you will not believe the amount of work that still needs to be done. If you consider yourself a humanitarian – read this book – humanitarian action/theology is feminist based. If you are parents of young children, read this book. If you teach/coordinate Women’s Studies at any level – why isn’t this book on your shelves and on your students’ book lists? Why wasn’t this book and the many discussions it solicits around when I was a student? This book is stimulating and eye opening and not elitist.
If you are the parents, family, friends or colleagues of the young people who have written the essays for this collection – be proud!
Back to the book….I feel deeply saddened that there exists and is a real need for something called an ASF – ( The Acid Survivors Foundation,) the ASF “is the only centre in Pakistan dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of victims of acid violence. The centre provides accommodation for victims while they receive medical, legal and psychological support… Acid violence is exactly what the name suggests: it involves a corrosive substance, usually sulphuric acid, being thrown at a victim. It takes seconds to carry out an attack, but can cause permanent disability, as well as disfigurement and excruciating pain. Skin melts, muscles fuse together, vision is lost…It is an astonishingly brutal crime that strikes at the very identity of the victim…for the most part, it is a gender based violence. As such it is more prevalent in countries where women are disenfranchised: not just Pakistan but also India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Colombia, Vietnam and Cambodia. ”pps 104-105. “ You ask why we still need feminism. I roll my eyes.
If you pick up this book (and you really should) if you read nothing else read the chapter titled “Staring at the Ceiling: It’s Not Always As Simple As Yes Or No” by Abigail Matson- Phippard. It is interesting and concerning to read that these type of experiences have not changed with the generations. Matson-Phippard articulately opens a discussion that needs to be had, makes room for voices that need to be heard, bravo! (And need I say this particularly chapter struck a chord with me, mirrored experiences and emotions I thought only related to me as a young woman growing up in the 70’s…) Abigail Matson-Phippard’s level of introspection and articulation in enviable.
Read on and you will discover many other examples of why feminism needs to make itself heard (again) and the philosophy embraced (strongly) – by men and women alike. There is something here that will speak to everyone in this wonderful collection of views.
One of the best nonfiction reads of the year!