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Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently
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Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,393 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Change the way you think about gender and feminism forever.

With all the revolutionary zeal, laugh-out-loud humour and intelligence of Laura Bates, Caitlin Moran and Bell Hooks, Emer O'Toole explores what it really means to 'act like a girl'.

Being a woman is, largely, about performance - how we dress and modify our bodies, what we say, the roles we play, and how we conform
Paperback, 277 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Orion Publishing Group
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Jo (That book-hoarding geek)
" It means that girls can change the world with the ways they choose to be girls."

Emer O' Toole, is the kind of individual I'd buy a coffee for. Actually, let's scrap that, I'd buy her dinner. But, in return, I'd expect to have a interesting and in depth conversation related to the amazing book that I've just read. O' Toole, is such an inspiring individual, and I loved how she has gone about writing this book. Some of it caused me to laugh long and loud, but parts, really irritated the hell out
Wiebke (1book1review)
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was such an interesting book for me because it helped me understand a lot of the issues I always fail to comprehend when it comes to feminism. Grooming and clothes.

This book talks all about her experience growing up a girl and being a women, especially how she was perceived by others and what was expected of her.

The most interesting thing for me was that her experiences where completely opposite to mine. From an early age on she felt she had to be beautiful and dress nice and clean up well.
Emer O’Toole wurde beileibe nicht als Feministin geboren. Unter anderem in der Theatergruppe ihrer Schule lernte sie wie alle anderen Mädchen, wie ein Mädchen zu sein hat, dass es weiblich ist, hübsch und artig zu sein, und wie man es anstellt, dass man den Jungs gefällt. Im Pub, in dem sie jobbt, macht sie sich allgemein bei der männlichen Stammkundschaft beliebt, in dem sie herausflötet, wie sie sich darauf freut, zu heiraten und Mann und Kinder zu versorgen. Eine überstandene Anorexie später ...more
Holly Dunn
As a feminist and theatre studies major Emer O’Toole is perfectly placed to write this exploration of what it means to be and to perform as a woman in today’s society. Largely autobiographical, this book looks at the things that we do in order to be the ‘right sort of woman’ and what happens when we deviate from this. A lot of this book has to do with hair: short hair, long hair, hidden hair, body hair. Most of these were arguments that I had heard before (really it all comes down to nature vs. ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read on gender and performance from a personal and critical perspective. O'Toole is very adept at navigating academic ideas and memoir in a way that's accessible, engaging and, when appropriate, very funny.
This is a fantastic exploration of gender as performance, and the ability we have as people to play with and our gender identity in order to discover things about ourselves, those around us, and society at large. O'Toole compels her readers to examine who they are and why they preform the ways they do, from makeup to body hair removal, to cross dressing and pronoun usage. There were a lot of compelling things that really got me thinking about myself and society. This is everything that I want ou ...more
Girls Will Be Girls is a nonfiction essay collection that tackles the rules of conformity within the accepted forms of gender (male and female). As the title clues you in, the book primarily concentrates on female identity more so then male, however certain points of discussion can be applied to either party. O’Toole tackles topics from sexuality to acceptable amounts of hair to sexual fetishes and even things like racism (though that still has a minor appearance in the book overall).

Having come
Louise O'Neill
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It's an intelligent, academic look at gender politics but accessible enough for those wanting an introduction to feminist theory. O' Toole has an engaging writing style which made Girls Will Be Girls compulsively readable.
Catarina de Carvalho
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
This is free on Goodreads so please pick it up! It's a great work about feminism. Also, very powerful.
This was such an inspiring read. There is not so much new information or theories, but Emer O'Toole writes about it in a way that is both funny and awakes irritating feelings. Being a woman is an act of performance, according to her. Most people act according to their gender, without really questioning it. What if you would be more happy acting in another way? To not be defined by your sex? The author has experimented with gender roles and writes about her experiences.

She began with dressing lik
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much. Emer O'Toole writes a book that's incredibly funny, and easy to read, whilst at the same time making a case for her arguments in such an articulate way you can't but help to nod along enthousiastically the entire time(which is what I did). It taught me a lot about gender and gender roles related to society. 10/10 would recommend.
Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
Such a witty, interesting and fascinating look at performances of gender. Highly recommend!

For a full length review check:
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourite
'Girls can change the world with the ways they choose to be girls.'

I'm very on the fence when it comes to feminism, I love the values and have voiced them amongst my friends and family but there is a sense of shame that clouds my thoughts when speaking up about how women are treated so over time it has been something I have secretly tucked away. I think this shame stems from being told I am making a big deal out of something that doesn't really matter but I think equality is important as at th
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seem to have some weird disease where I can't give memoirs 5 stars?! When I first saw this book I thought it might be an exception, as the cover art, title and topic are totally up my street. Upon starting, however, the narrative voice took me some getting used to.

This book most definitely pushes you to think about and analyse pretty much everything you do. I had a little think about why Emer O'Toole's voice took me some time to connect with, coming to the conclusion that it was just such a st
05.02.2018: I enjoyed taking my time with this book, actually annotating my copy with a red pen and a very pink highlighter (the irony is not lost on me), thoughts and doodles all over the margins. It didn’t feel like work, it was my “non-academic” response in processing what I was reading and now I want more! It really motivated me to finally pick up Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader, an intimidating essay collection, much needed for my research.

I was familiar with some of the texts and c
It's very new for me to be thinking about feminism. For a long time I thought much of the progress had been made by our forbearers and that we women weren't having it that bad, so why complain? Plus, the feminist movement doesn't have the best image or I had been shown a wrong image of what it is all about...

But some things started nagging at me and thanks to youtube (in particular Jean Menzies' channel) I started to add feminists books on my TBR.

It's is actually Jean who pushed me to read Girls
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Originally posted here.

This is a really hard book to review. I was expecting Girls Will Be Girls to be more of a scientific non-fiction when actually it is more of a memoir. I do like a good memoir, but this one didn't really 'open my mind' like the blurb claimed.

It is essentially about Emer O'Toole's experience growing up in Ireland and how gender expectations affected her and how she became a feminist. None of the ideas in here were that unique to me. It was funny in places but ultimately I fo
Elli (The Bibliophile)
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, 2015
One of my friends took a class with Emer O'Toole last year and subsequently bought and read this book. She lent me her copy and I'm so happy I read it!

This book is the perfect mix of conversational and serious. The tone of the whole book made the book very easy to read, but the subject was well thought-out. I liked the balance between stories from O'Toole's personal life, and the insights from various philosophers and feminist theorists.

I highly recommend this to anyone interested in gender str
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, psychology
This is a humorous and enlightening read that addresses one of the biggest debating points in feminism, that of appearance and grooming. Do you quit all the girly stuff to show your disillustionment of the patriachrial system where women are meant to look pretty or do you still embrace the lippy because you love it so? While I'm not the most girly of female I do like getting my hair dyed with bright sections of ever changing colour and I do get my nails done (I have a nail biting habit...) and t ...more
Lizzy O'shea
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
~ would prefer not to pick a rating for this ~

Parts of this were spot on and were great unpackings of various different aspects of gender roles and structures/society/psychology etc, but others made me feel uncomfortable with their lack of discussions of trans identities, and discussions of "gender performativity" etc. from a cis perspective definitely rang some warning bells.

I would be very interested to see what others think after reading this, because I can't see any other reviews that flag
Marie Andrews
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review to come shortly...
Ruth Bygrave
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this book passionately, both the humour and the politics. Who wouldn't warm to a book with an open love-letter to a dead French sociologist!

I never got into performing 'girl', largely for reasons to do with Asperger Syndrome and mild physical disability. It all seemed like a lot of hard work, and a lot of hard work I didn't take to. I let it happen to other people, although I was disappointed not to have childhood friends until I was about sixteen, a lot of which was probably down to not
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, feminism
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

For a while I've been thinking a lot about feminist issues and what my opinions are. I have also had a lot of feminist articles on my Twitter feed recently, but some of the issues that came up were things I'd never thought of, never considered. I realised I should probably educate myself, and tweeted asking for recommendations of feminist books to help me become a better feminist. Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole was recommended to me by YA author of
Jackie Law
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Girls Will Be Girls, by Emer O’Toole, is an exploration of identity, gender and social conditioning. It starts with the premise that “all the world is a stage” and that “gender is an act which has been rehearsed”. The reasoning behind these assertions are well articulated in the opening chapters making this a thought provoking, challenging but never difficult read.

By drawing from her own life experiences, and sharing many amusing if sometimes poignant anecdotes along the way, the author looks at
Waitalie Nat
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was so, so good. Exceptionally good. Probably the best feminist non-fiction text I have ever stumbled upon. Fabulous. Please, just put down Moran's How to Be a Woman - with all its nonsensical rambling about being a strident feminist - and, instead, pick up Emer O'Toole's smart and thought-through work. Every statement and opinion, as opposed to Moran's book, is constantly backed up through the use of references to research, studies and various seminal texts. It is convincing and oh s ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read October 2015
This was really good! I've read a few other 'feminist books' before, but this one definitely gave me some new perspectives and ideas.
I do think it's very focussed on looks though, and while at first I could relate (especially the whole feeling the need to be skinny thing hit pretty close to home for me), but after a while not so much. (never been that much of a girly girl..) It was interesting to read from someone’s perspective who's had different experiences, but in the end
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was refreshing and differed from my expectations greatly! I don't think this is a book for "beginning" feminists. O'Toole is exploring some concepts and talking about things based on facts a lot of women don't even accept or acknowledge as true, so while this is thought provoking, I think it's for someone who has already accepted some feminist ideology and is seeking a new perspective.

I've never seen someone discuss gender roles as playing a part and O'Toole's sections on the beauty indust
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-release
Very different from my usual stuff, but this deserves a mention.
Absolutely loved it! Truthful, funny, witty and yet biting.
Pointed out many truths of society, and made for a very entertaining read. The only reason why it took me so long to read was that I kept having to put it down and take some days to think about the views O'Toole presented. Girls Will be Girls is a truly thought-provoking delight to read.
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible. I want to reread this until I know it by heart (might take a while though). This book should be on the school's curriculum. Gender is performative and the sooner we realise this the sooner be can break down societal gender roles and expectations and achieve a happier environment. Please read this! xxx
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“our society is unequal, and bodily difference is used to justify that inequality.” 6 likes
“Even within our culture, there are times when breasts stop being read as bouncy sex balls: when women are breastfeeding, there's pretty wide acceptance of the fact that shouting 'phwoar' is bad form.” 2 likes
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