Annie's Reviews > Full Frontal Feminism

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
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Sep 22, 07

Recommended for: dads and teenagers
Read in September, 2007

Get on your galoshes and your profanity-proof vest before you sit down to read this book. If you can endure wading through endless swear words and a constant, forced semblance of teen-speak, then you just might be able to get through it. The author of FFF is the founder of fabulous feminist blog Feministing. While her blog is awesome, I do wonder if she is only able to communicate in informal, blog-style, written-as-speech language. A self-professed and incorrigible "potty-mouth," Valenti spews naughty words with the apparent goal of being cool enough to attract a flighty teen audience with a short attention span. Do we really have to cater to them that much? Isn't it an insult to their intelligence to talk down to them at that level?--I think a 13-year-old could probably see through it. Or maybe it just felt insulting to me because no one warned me that the book was meant for an audience of 14-year-olds who will only read a non-fiction book if it sensationalizes sex (harder to do these days!) and uses the word "fuck" at least once a page. My only worry here is that...sh!...I think you are trying too hard, Ms. Valenti. And you do know that teenagers, girls especially, have a sense of smell for that kind of thing that's keener than a rat's, right?

Now that I've satisfied my need for a rant regarding style, the book deserves some honorable mentions for content. Valenti covers a very wide range of topics affecting young women in the United States, from (duh) sexual and reproductive health and rights to the history...uh, oops, I mean herstory...of feminist organizing in the United States...to partner abuse, motherhood, pay inequity, harmful constructions of masculinity, even my own pet peeve--the corporate romance industry. I do worry she tries to help teenage girls get off too easily by dismissing some rigorous feminist analysis b/c it can result in some inconvenient dilemmas for us (feminism DOES make you have to think). It’s a step in the right direction to acknowledge our own sexist practices, but it would be better to stop them in the first place. Despite her occasional lenient get-out-of-feminism free passes, she does do a pretty good job of motivating girls to care. It's a start. FFF is just an introduction... but one hell of an introduction if you don't know much or anything about these things or what they have to do with one another. Which brings me to the other unintentional audience that stands to benefit from reading this book: fathers. Fathers, you'll be amazed to learn what was going on right under your nose these past three decades! And you'll learn how to truly support your teenage daughters. (Got that, Dad? No? You're not listening... oh....)

The greatest thing that FFF has going for it is that it provides young women with, at minimum, a surface-level understanding of both sides of some of the most important issues facing them AS young women. It equips them with the language to participate in discussions about their rights, fun facts that make a punchy point, and clear arguments to defend themselves to those who challenge them. In a world that rewards conformity and complacency, particularly for young women, this manual encourages and supports them in being more active in advocating for themselves. It attempts to get across the message that (Hello!?!) our rights are not guaranteed as women, especially young women, in this country, and actually they are still, yes still!, under attack. What's "cool" is to stick up for ourselves and our rights. It's kinda, like, not just cool, you know what I mean?, but like, necessary and stuff. Yeah.
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