What a perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day – finishing the incredible, inspiring and eye-opening collection of essays that make up Scarlett Curtis’ Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies.
It’s only March and there’s already some serious contenders for my 2020 book of the year. In January, I wrote a review on Daisy Jones and the Six, claiming it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I thought it’d take me a long time to feel like that about a book again, but it’s happened in a matter of weeks!
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies was everything I expected and so, so, so much more. I pride myself on being a strong feminist, but I’ve always had niggling doubts that I’m not enough of one.
I’m not an outwardly extrovert character and there’s very little chance you’ll see me screaming about the unfairness of the patriarchy in the middle of the street. But this book has made me realise that’s okay, and I’m still a strong feminist because I have a passion for tackling inequality and bringing about change.
There’s tonnes of incredible essays in the book and it’s practically impossible to pick a favourite. So I’ve done my best to pick out a couple of my personal highlights.
My Feminism by Alison Sudol
There’s a few reasons why I loved this essay so much. Firstly, Sudol opens with an honest statement about procrastinating until the very last minute and then writing her piece in a rush – something I can certainly relate to.
Largely though, I loved Sudol’s words on feminism because they resonated so well with me. I will always fight for equality and I’d like to think I’ve always been a feminist, but it’s taken me a long time to work out exactly what that word means to me. Truth be told, I’m still figuring it out now and my attitude and approach to feminism changes all the time.
Sudol wrote: “My idea of feminism is a work in progress and every time I edit this piece I find 77 things to fix. And then I remind myself, I do not have to get everything right to be a part of this. The world is changing rapidly and there’s a flexibility to this era that feels exciting to me. This is our time to change the system. This is our time to change the world.”
I could not have articulated it quite as beautifully as Sudol, but that’s exactly how I feel right now.
10 Ways to Support the Women in Your Life by Olivia Perez
I recently wrote a blog for No Brainer (the PR company I work for), where I said: “how can we work to address and tackle the gender-bias that exists not just in PR, but every sector across the world? For me, the answer is simple – true, honest girl power.”
I feel like Olivia Perez captured the same sense of togetherness in her article that I was trying to convey in mine. She offers ten top tips on how women can continue to support one another in everyday life and all of her advice was glorious! It included gems, such as “Show up for women, physically and emotionally” and “collaborate, don’t compete.”
My personal favourite was her third suggestion: “Be transparent with each other. Be open about jobs, salaries, relationships, sex, hardships, successes, botox, everything. Secrecy bleeds insecurity because the unknown makes us insecure.” This point is absolutely on the money and women stand a better chance of succeeding together if we are honest with each other, particularly when times are hard or when discussing those seemingly ‘taboo’ subjects.
Tell Him by Jameela Jamil
I loved this essay by Jameela Jamil because it was so different to all the others. Jamil takes the stance that men, as much as women, need to be educated on feminism and urges us not to “take for granted how poisonous society can be to the male psyche.” This comes in so many different forms, including song lyrics, peer pressure and even porn.
The most powerful lines in this essay, I felt, were “All you have to do is tell him the truth. Tell him what happened to us. Tell him how only very recently we were able to fight, protest, beg and starve our way to basic human rights.”
It’s certainly one of the most powerful contributions to the book and really gets you thinking. I actually read this essay on my lunch break at work and was soon passing the book around the office, to male and female colleagues, because I felt everybody should read it. I don’t have any children yet, but if I ever do have a son, I’ll do my best to educate him as best I can, telling him the truth about women’s fights for equality, toxic masculinity and the importance of being a male feminist.
Just in case I haven’t made it abundantly clear in the above, I adored every single page of this book. I devoured the entire collection in three days, which made for an inspirational, albeit very intense, few days of reading.
It was truly astounding and I wish it were mandatory reading for teenagers, male and female, around the world.
GoodReads rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️