Review Blog

Feb 21 2019

Feminism is... by A. Black et al.

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DK, 2019. ISBN 9780241228029.
(Age: 14+) Highly Recommended. Non fiction. Feminism is... follows on the heels of the recently published Feminists don't wear pink and other lies - a collection of feminist essays edited by Scarlett Curtis. Both books consolidate the concept of intersectionality but Feminism is...takes the form of a lively reference book. It might be a contradiction in terms, but familiar frames for lucid explanations reward every page turned. The thought-provoking topics form double page spreads within each section, including a handful featuring key historical identities. Each topic fans out across the gutter to engage with stylized diagrams, bold boxed headings and a monochrome photo.
It's a ready reference with all the accessible features plus a directory, glossary and index. Textbook sized, the topics are classified into broad sections: A political and social movement, Body and identity, Relationships and families, Education and work and Culture and society. The simple language explains complicated academic concepts and the spectrum of topics range from 'No Means No' to 'Feminism and Sex Work.' A further delight is that every topic gives equal weight to the opposing views of different schools of feminist thought.
Like its counterpart, the gambit of feminism is linked by a central idea - that intersectionality is at the heart of feminism. Feminism cannot exist in a vacuum. The majority of humankind identify with or belong to more than one marginalized and exploited group. Feminism champions equal rights for everyone who is a victim of patriarchal institutions - in reality that means fighting for as many men (of character) as women. The media, legal system, education and religion are the pillars supporting tyranny of a privileged system that filters through family, language, work, politics, culture and sexuality.
Feminism has evolved. The book may be aimed at youth, but it provides everyone with access and clear understandings of hitherto complex academic theories. Secondary schools should stock a feminist reference book so thoroughly executed, if only for the simplest definition proposed by Gemma Cairney in the foreword: 'It's a hopeful term to associate ourselves with - it means you believe in human rights'. As a result, Cairney was invited to take part in the 'My Life in Objects' series for The Pool. Meet her online on YouTube.
Deborah Robins

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