I picked up the copy of Girl Up from the airport recently and was met with the cashier shouting “Girl Power!” with a air punch followed by the best review you’d ever want in a book store “We love this book in here. You are going to really enjoy it!” – Now I’m sure they say that to all the books but this really felt sincere. Lets face it, who wouldn’t love a book that promises feminist limericks, colour-by-numbers genitalia and dancing vaginas (hence my featured image of choice!)
Laura Bates, campaigner, social media god, feminist writer and all round fun woman came on to my reading radar earlier this year when I got a copy of Everyday Sexism. Of course I reviewed that, you can find the low down HERE! I knew from this that I enjoyed her writing style so I didn’t think the book would be a let down in any way and boy was I right. When I got to the end my overarching feeling was – this isn’t book, its an education – I really did think this, I wrote it on a post-it note! This book needs to be on the shelves of every girls bedroom, it needs to be in schools, it needs to be taught from and quoted. It is the basis of an entire syllabus on “How to be YOU!” Its a book for the LGBTQ groups, for those who need reassuring that everyone is different and because of that we are all the same. Its a book that talks, quite graphically at times, about sex and pornography. Yes it is a book written from a female perspective but it is in no way gender-bashing or anti-men. It is a really great book.
For me, the latter chapters were my favourite, not becuase the earlier ones weren’t well written but I felt they were more targetted at a younger audience. I want to share some of my favourite analogies from the book.
“…a bit like watching a 3D film at the cinema. Once you put on the special glasses, it suddenly jumps out at you, as real as day, in all its technicolour glory, and you cant beleive you didn’t see it before.
My epiphany moment came like this with the feminism argument and the grand sexism debate. Once you start seeing sexist nonsense in the media and on tv, in films and in grown up conversations in the work place you cant stop seeing it. From billboards advertising products that don’t require the picture of a woman’s body (minus her head) or (direct quote from my office) “I suppose they put her on the front row to give the impression of diversity”, of all the films i’ve seen this year the only two that have had female protagonists shown them weak – ‘Carol’ was oppressed and ‘Girl of the Train’ spent the majority of the film as an out of control alcoholic whom nobody believed, supported or loved.
“sex is a lot like ice cream…infinite number of different flavours…some people like to try lots of different flavours and other like to have the same flavour over and over again…whats most important of all is that you’d never force-feed ice cream to somebody who said they didn’t want any. Even if you came over planning to have ice cream, if they didn’t want any you’d put it away again…even if someone…got out the bowls and spoons its still completely their right to decide if they change their mind…push the bowl away in the middle of a scoop if they’ve had enough. If someone decided they want one particular flavour of ice cream, you wouldn’t suddenly shove a different kind in their mouth.
If they were asleep, or unconscious, or very drunk, you wouldn’t just randomly start feeding it to them.”
I think this analogy is my favourite. Who would have thought consent could be explained with the ice cream. Who would have thought it would have been so easy? So WHY DONT WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN IN THIS WAY? – I rest my case. This is as easy as it gets. If you ask for raspberry ripple and get mint chocolate chip – thats not ok. If you want sprinkles, sauce and a flake you can bloody have it without fear of being judged and i would urge you to not stop untill you get it! And finally if you don’t offer to try new flavours how will you ever know if you like pistachio or not?!
On The Media
“We tend to think of the media as a mirror that reflects the world around us. But its really a fairground mirror, which squeezes and stretches and distorts the picture, sometimes to the point were the truth is unrecognisable”
The media distorts the world we see. It is so unrecognisable at times but when there is so much out their to bombard you its so hard not to be sucked in to that world and believe the headlines, be intrigued by another 50 tips to make your man crazy or influence your weekly shopping list. The ‘fairground mirror’ sums this up for me. You can look in one and be tall and skinny and feel empowered because thats how you’ve always wanted to look, how society has told you to look then as quick as a flash you can turn the corner and have an ample hourglass shape, hips that spread for days and a more than curvaceous overflowing bosom a-la-Mim-K, then turn around again* and you are a short, round, bulbous little human who doesn’t comply with the magazine covers and no man will ever be crazy about you no matter how well you memories this weeks top 50 tips.
*this may or may not be your bathroom mirror every morning.
Would I recommend this book, yes. Am I aware of the argument “it only focuses on women and women’s bodies”, yes and believe it or not I am its target audience – i am a woman and shock horror I have a woman’s body too!
I can relate to so much of this book which is why I think every parent should buy it for their child. From the moment your child starts conforming to the media’s mantra or the moment they find themselves even the slightest bit intrigued by sex and relationships. BUY THE GODDAMN BOOK!
Would I read this book again – YES
I would put this on a level with I Call Myself a Feminist (still my Numero uno!) and the Everyday Sexism.
Nest on the list: Girl will be Girls by Emer O’Toole