Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Review: "We Were Feminists Once" by Andi Zeisler

Ever since the election, I have made a commitment to myself to read more on the topics that mean something to me such as gender equality.  I have always considered myself a feminist, though I have doubts before - usually along the "am I feminist enough" train of thought.  I have never studied feminism or explored feminist theory or activism; I have just always wanted equality no matter the person's gender identification.

This book caught my eye on Litsy, so I ordered it up from the library.  I'm not going to lie, I'm leaving this book conflicted though generally better than when I started it.  In some ways I'm not sure this should have been my book to read...  but in other ways I think it was perfect.  This book goes through the history of the feminist movement, which taught me quite a bit.  That was a definite positive.

The author then breaks down how each "wave" of feminism has been co-opted by pop culture and capitalism which is important to realize and identify, but started to confuse me.  I felt like I was being given examples of how great it was that pop culture was talking about the positive notion of female choice and breaking down beauty standards and creating pathways for young girls to excel in athletics and STEM only to have that taken away and diminished by the ugly head of corporate marketing strategy and capitalist financial goals.  I get (and have always understood) that ad campaigns, even those that promote feminism, are still ad campaigns.  I did, however, especially enjoy the section on how ridiculously overused the word "empower" and "empowerment" is there days.  No, I don't think that wearing a t-shirt that says "I'm empowered" or choosing a particular band of yogurt is "empowering".  Give me a break.

This book does set out to explore exactly what the title describes - "The buying and selling of a political movement".   The writing is a little dense, and it felt like it took a very long time to read even though it really isn't that long. There is some humor sprinkled in here and there.. but not so much as to discredit the seriousness of the topic.  I'm glad I read it, but I felt like I was forcing myself to finish.

*****
We Were Feminists Once:  From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement
by Andi Zeisler
Public Affairs, 2016
285 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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1 comment:

Andi said...

I feel like this one would be a good pick for me now. I studied all the philosophy and movements back in undergrad and grad school, but this brain doesn't hold onto things like it used to. The refresher would be good.

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