Feminism isn't dead. It just isn't very cool anymore. Enter Full Frontal Feminism, a book that embodies the forward-looking messages that author Jessica Valenti propagated as founder of the popular website, Feministing.com.
This revised edition includes a new foreword by Valenti, reflecting upon what’s happened in the five years since Full Frontal Feminism was originally published. With new openers from Valenti in every chapter, the book covers a range of topics, including pop culture, health, reproductive rights, violence, education, relationships, and more.
Chapters include: You’re a Hardcore Feminist. I Swear. Feminists Do It Better (and Other Sex Tips) Pop Culture Gone Wild The Blame (and Shame) Game If These Uterine Walls Could Talk My Big Fat Unnecessary Wedding and Other Dating Diseases “Real” Women Have Babies I Promise I Won’t Say “Herstory” Boys Do Cry Beauty Cult Sex and the City Voters, My Ass
Valenti knows better than anyone that young women need a smart-ass book that deals with real-life issues in a style they can relate to. No rehashing the same old issues or belaboring where today's young women have gone wrong. Feminism should be something young women feel comfortable with. Full Frontal Feminism is sending out the message to readers—yeah, you're feminists, and that's actually pretty frigging cool.
Jessica Valenti is a columnist for the Guardian US and the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture. Her third book, The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, won the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award and was made into a documentary by the Media Education Foundation. She is also editor of the anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, which was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2009.
Jessica founded Feministing.com, which Columbia Journalism Review called “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media.” Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian (UK), The American Prospect, Ms. magazine, Salon and Bitch magazine.
She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
I'm still baffled as to why there is a flat stomached, white female body on the front cover. Especially considering some of Valenti's points were insistant on the new age of feminism; open to men and women of all colour and creeds.
Other than that, this was an interesting book from a British point of view. Who knew Mississippi banned vibrators but allowed people to buy guns with a background check? Not me! Or that abstinance only education is incrediably wide spread? Not me! Or that pharmacists are allowed to refuse patients the pill/EC? Not me!
It made me quite grateful to be living in Britain.
I found Valenti's style of writing distracting. It felt like she ended every sentance with, 'I know, right?' or some other sarcastic comment. This book is probably best for high school and young college students. I found her voice quite patronising and off putting, there wasn't anything particularly new from a ideological view point, but it would still be an informative book for those who are total new comers to the movement known as feminism.
You know, I haven't been a feminist long, but this book is extremely Feminism 101. Pretty much everything I read I had heard many times before and in more depth elsewhere. This feels more like a "Flyby Feminism" book, suited more towards very young women who are vaguely familiar with all these tropes, but maybe looking for more depth.
But I can't say I'd recommend this to any young women. Firstly, I felt the book was very divisive; Valenti was obviously writing to women just like her (liberal Democrats who think anyone that is different are prudey Republican anti-sexers) and not trying to be a bit more embracing to ALL women. Which is a shame, because ALL women need this, and I believe that ALL women, regardless of their opinions in some matters (you know, premarital sex and abortion) can AND SHOULD unite behind many of these topics. Honestly, unless we can find some common ground and work together, I don't see great change happening.
Very much tied in with the divisive, condescending, arrogant tone is the writing style itself. Valenti completely eschews any sort of formal, academic writing for a "hey girl" conversational style filled with assumptions, insults to Republicans (and "prudey" "anti-sexers") and foul language. I can understand wanting to talk to your audience, but young teenaged girls aren't stupid; they can see through sh!t. I know I would not have appreciated reading this fake teenspeak when I was between the ages of 14 - 19.
What is probably worse is the hypocrisy. Valenti is very much against a woman changing her last name when she marries - but makeup, purses, and heels are A-OK. Why? Essentially because Valenti likes these things and approves of them. The ridiculous thing is that a name doesn't determine whether you are a feminist. Liking makeup and shoes and wanting to get breast implants and wanting to wait until you are married to have sex aren't bad things or unfeminist things. They are just THINGS. A woman is a PERSON first and foremost, and we need to stop making assumptions about a woman based on what she likes and doesn't like (this includes myself, society, and feminists who assume that any liking of beauty or "traditional female roles" is bad).
So women: if you love sports and wear NIKE shoes and like violent video games, you can be a feminist! If you love "27 Dresses" and makeup and romance stories and adopted your man's last name, you can be a feminist! If you like action movies and makeup and wear earrings and love math and physics, YOU CAN BE A FEMINIST! There is NO LIST that separates the feminist from the non-feminist.
Towards the end, I had a really hard time appreciating even the good aspects, because of the tone, the writing, the attitude. Which is a shame, because, even if this is very basic, there are important messages that I think many young women should hear. Unfortunately, I am afraid that a portion of these women who need this the most (including my younger self) will be turned off because Valenti shoots off at the mouth. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend unless you are a young teenaged girl from a liberal, Democrat family and accustomed to a lot of swearing.
This was one of my most highly anticipated feminist reads, but since I bought it several years ago, I think I waited too long in reading it and got my expectations up too high. I guess I neglected to understand that this is a guide literally for "why feminism matters," so it feels like the intended audience is skeptics or uninformed people, which isn't me. Therefore, I thought it was fun to listen to this and get a refresher on women's issues, but it really didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Furthermore, it was written in 2006--when I was 9 years old--so although some problems described are still relevant and ongoing, the discussion of the Clintons and Bushes felt antiquated.
But more than anything I found two things problematic in this book: Valenti's use of sarcasm to an audience that she's trying to convince to convert to feminism, and mentioning intersectionality only as an afterthought. First, Valenti would commonly use sarcasm to punctuate really sad or unfortunate facts about sexism, and it read as very unbecoming. She would say something upsetting about abuse to women or unequal pay or other way women are disparaged, then immediately afterward go "Lovely, right?" or some other flippant comment that was supposed to lighten the mood or highlight the situation's ridiculousness, but all I could think of it that it sounded irritating. If I were a skeptic reading this, I would definitely be turned off by the flippant tone. And then, for her to only include intersectionality in the last chapter I think is problematic because all issues in feminism can be expounded or lightened by class/privilege/race/sexuality, and it shouldn't be thrown in as a "oh yeah by the way, feminism affects everyone differently."
I had other minor issues with it like her negativity about plastic surgery and women in porn, but those topics are a lot more mainstream in 2018 than they were in 2006, so I'm not going to assume that her stance is the same. In any case, I'll agree to disagree.
If my 15 year old self had read this, I think I would have LOVED it and gained a lot from it. But I think I picked it up too late in the game to reap any significant, new information from it.
i didn't read this book expecting to like it. i read it out of curiosity & because i think it's important to be informed about the things you are critiquing. i was already not such a fan of jessica valenti's blog writing, mainly because i found her ideas pretty unoriginal & mainly of interest to young privileged white women. this book was more of the same. she claims that it's a kind of feminist 101 primer for young women who are new to feminism. her goal seems to be to get these young women to care about feminism & invest their energies in its future. very noble & everything. too bad her unconscious audience seems to be young privileged white women, yet again. there is a lot here about how you don't have to hate men in order to be a feminist, & how feminists have better sex because they are more self-actualized, & just a lot of really boring shit like that which serves to prop up a lot of the more offensive myths about feminists in the name of dismantling them. i mean, i have heard some of skeeziest dudes on earth say that they prefer to have sex with feminists because "they are usually more in touch with their bodies, so they know where they're at in their cycles & might not make you use a condom." nice. really nice. & her tone has this winking, sly kind of tone that maybe works on an internet blog when you have a sense of your audience, but it just seems lazy here. she starts to critique things/epople/institutions that deserve to be critiqued, & then she just stops halfway through & writes, "need i go on?," so sure that her audience is on board & also hates what she hates. yes, jessica, you need to go on. it's called a BOOK. you're supposed to EXPLAIN your ideas & positions. that's kind of the POINT. stick to blogs if you can't handle the responsibility of hashing out your beliefs. & as an aside, all her whining about how older feminists need to step aside & make room for the up-&-comers sounds awfully self-serving. i do think that old hands entrenched in any institution/philosophy/situation have a responsibility to create space for new thinkers, new ideas, & new spirit in their ranks, but jessica veers awfully close to saying, "no! give ME the book contracts! i'm the next big thing!" it's just gross.
Officially I stopped at p.35 although I did some skimming through some of the other chapters. I liked the author's other book, SEX OBJECT. Even if I didn't always agree with all of the finer details of what she was saying, I agreed with the overall tone and message of her book. The same thing happened here, with this book, only the tone was even more off-putting. In an attempt to sound hip, Valenti adopts this strange, snarky narrative that I think is supposed to sound relatable, but instead comes across as patronizing and overly casual by turns. Maybe teens will relate to this better? Or they did in 2007? I see that it was originally published in 2007, and the humor-- or what passed for it-- back then was definitely more in your face than it is now. It's my opinion that she cherry-picks her arguments and picks straw-men (and women-- strawpeople?) to systematically attack and deconstruct the other side's arguments. And maybe that's to simplify the nuances of her arguments for teens but it also made her opinions look cheap. Especially since her brand of feminism comes across as the sort of "I can have tons of sex and wear lipstick and short dresses and OWN it" feminism that seems to prevail among white affluent cis/het women. There were attempts at intersectionality although she said a few things that made me side-eye her (for example, saying that the worst thing that you can call a guy is a "woman" and including "gay" on that list of womanly perjoratives, thereby accidentally implying that all gay men are femme/womanly) and some outdated statistics even in the updated edition. For example, she says (in this 2014 reprint) that 56% of Americans oppose gay marriage but I believe that at the time that this was published, that was starting to shift. I just checked a Gallup poll and it looks like 70% of Americans now approve of gay marriage. Granted, 2014 was seven years ago, and the internet forces social change faster than anything, but 56% of disapproval feels low for 2014. It felt more like a 2007 statistic that never got updated. The tone of the book gets less obnoxious towards the end but I was not a fan. I think this could be a good jumping off point for teens who are curious about wanting to know more about feminism but I'm concerned that the edginess of her "humor" might put people off. I'm not one for tone policing and I am a feminist, and I can see what Valenti is trying to do here, but I'm just not sure her message is going to resonate for anyone except those who already solidly agree with her.
Jessica Valenti is a part of the feminist blogger elite, and for good reason. The blog she helped to establish, Feministing.com, receives a significant amount of web traffic and is well-known among young, internet savvy, hip feminists. Full disclosure: I read Feministing every now and then. Having read Valenti’s writing on the blog – which tends to be oversimplified and, quite frankly, bratty – I was hoping her analysis in book form would show a tad more depth. Unfortunately for Valenti, there’s a downside to fame; it opens you up for public criticism.
If Full Frontal Feminism is supposed to be the spark that ignites young women to claim their identity as "feminists" and hop aboard the Third Wave train, then women are in deep trouble. Valenti writes like feminism's version of Ann Coulter, and let’s face it, Ann Coulter is hardly known for her intelligent commentary. Flamboyant and egotistical, much of Valenti’s analysis is trite, at best. She makes sweeping generalizations (“When you’re a feminist, day to day life is better. You make better decisions. You have better sex.”), repeatedly refers to her opponents by juvenile names ("The consequence of having the last name Buttars is apparently being a huge asshole."), confuses “truth” with “opinion,” and seems to have done very little actual research to back up her claims, as very few citations accompany her assertions.
At times, she doesn’t feel the need to make an assertion at all, responding with a facile yet grandiose “Puke,” a deliberately ironic “Yeah,” or a pithy “Terrifying,” as though this is all that she needs to make her case. And despite hackneyed attempts every now and again to mention other marginalized groups, the truth is that this book overwhelmingly reflects the viewpoint of its white, middle class, (I assume) heterosexual, entitled, American, liberal feminist writer.
Valenti doesn’t give her readers credit for being able to do the thing she most wants them to do: think critically. This is apparent in the fallacious style by which she presents her perspectives. My personal favorite – taken straight from the right wing, talk radio instruction manual – is how Valenti uses the bait-and-switch tactic to “prove” her point (e.g., contending that anti-abortion advocates simply hate sex). A close second is when she uses the most extreme cases to illustrate a point as though they aren’t the exception to the rule (e.g., making the case for all women to have access to Emergency Contraception because rape victims should have access to it). These tactics are most unfortunate because, even as a person who is largely ideologically aligned with Valenti, I began to question her standpoint as fearmongering overshadowed politics.
Perhaps Valenti believes that young women won’t be moved unless they’re shocked by what she says, or completely scared to death. Fear is a powerful motivator, but it belittles the audience in the process. Oh, and did I mention that she uses the book as a forum to talk public trash about petty tiffs she’s had with other bloggers? If fear doesn’t sell you on feminism, apparently Valenti believes taking sides in some inane, personal dispute will.
Full Frontal Feminism is written in sound bytes, each chapter being comprised of smaller (usually) one page-long explanations of a given issue: sex education vs. abstinence only, virginity pledges, expensive weddings, unattainable beauty standards, and other typical feminist fare. Apparently, the television has taken its toll (or so Valenti thinks) on the public because there is no sense of organization or logic to the structure of the book. And solutions? Those must have been left for someone else to tackle because you won’t find them here, at least not outside of the standard volunteer, give money, and vote.
Now I know I’ve pretty much run this book into the ground, but I do want to say that I get what Valenti is trying to do here. And it’s a really smart idea. She wants to reach out to young women who don't call themselves "feminists" and let them know that it’s okay, cool even, to be down with the F-word. She wants to tell them that they already believe in feminist ideals and have benefited from the women’s movement. And she wants to encourage them to continue in that tradition in order to kick some misogynist ass. That’s a really honorable goal that, unfortunately, was a victim of poor execution.
If you’re truly looking to find out why feminism matters, you’d be better served to flip to the booklist in the back of Full Frontal Feminism and read some of the titles listed there – including Colonize This!, Listen Up: Voices from the Next Generation, To Be Real, and The Fire This Time – because cool packaging is really great, but if there’s nothing of substance inside then what you are selling is just the packaging.
Jessica Valenti writes as a friend--a close friend--would speak to another: Without airs, without condescension, communicating directly and colloquially with someone they care about. She writes with wit and humor, never taking herself too seriously, even when communicating deadly serious information. She defuses one of the slurs regarding feminists: the clichéd humorless harridan. She ably destroys that stereotype throughout, to the joy, often the rude joy, of the reader.
Both in style and substance, the book is fun. It also dovetails with another aspect of her book: She writes with real force; her language is uncompromisingly honest, blunt yet never shrill. Some of her wit displayed is of the cutting variety, slashing at the stupidity of sexism in all its manifestations. This, too, reflects the urgency of her message: That now, more than ever, it is vital for women--and men--to proudly claim and uphold the mantle of feminism, and that its basic tenets are under assault with a vengeance not seen in years.
What keeps “Full Frontal Feminism” from becoming a rant is that is utterly useful, a practical guide, and more importantly, it forces the reader to consider: The essential elements of feminism, the myths that surround what feminism is, the place of women in the world, and the reader's own prejudices. While the book is chock-full of useful information, both practical and experiential, one of the most important things that is communicated is this: “Find out for yourself.” Getting involved, discovering the aspects of feminism that make your tick, Jessica writes, are essential, and totally reflective of the feminist viewpoint: That individual women can, and should, decide for themselves how to shape their lives. Assisting in that, Jessica peppers her book with plain-spoken advice, never hectoring those she attempts to reach, but letting them know succinctly that they are responsible for themselves.
And it's against tremendous resistance, whether it be abstinence programs that lay the entirety of the blame for what proponents see as sexual licentiousness at women's--girl's--feet, the continued imbalance in the workplace and in the home, a pop-culture that sends profoundly mixed-messages about how a young woman should behave, and how much of the discrimination has been both internalized and institutionalized, to the point where unless one is acutely aware of it, the fact that women are being treated unfairly--and that's a gentle way of phrasing it--can pass unnoticed. “Full Frontal Feminism” gives women real tools to fight back, first by helping them realize that a battle is on, whether they wish for it or not.
She does give a pass to the flaws of the feminist movement--first, second or third wave. She is forthright in pointing out how feminists have occasionally undermined each other, how the movement has sometimes not been as inclusive as it could have been, and how internecine feuds over seemingly trivial issues--though of course often reflective of deeper divisions--drawn women and men that support them away from fighting the more essential fights.
I was born in the same year that NOW was formed. In that time I've been lucky enough to have been surrounded by strong women: my mother, who went from a home-maker to a vice-president in an insurance company; two strong, independent sisters, and a plethora of vibrant, kick-ass women throughout college and after, who made it clear to me that they expected, demanded to be treated as equals, to the point that the concept was in my bones, never to be displaced. And so it must be on a grander scale with the whole of society. There is much work to do, and Jessica Valenti is one of the women doing much of the heavy lifting.
Me, me, me...and great sex if you're a self-proclaimed feminist. Get over yourself Jessica! Yeah, you illuminated some points of feminism, but managed to make it all completely about you (or you the reader). I think there is something that could be said about feminism still being a group movement, and not an individual movement. Another thing, "Pshaw's" and cursing might be cute to a high schooler, but it really ruins some of your academic and wide spread credibility. I think you could have still made this book accessible and managed not to make yourself sound like an idiot. Another thing, if this is what third wave feminism is about, you can count me out!
So here's why I couldn't rate this book higher. These are all quotes from this book.
"While at the end of the day I'm not going to fault someone for wanting a ring, there are certain things (and maybe because they don't have to do with jewelry) I can't get over. For the life of me, I will never understand why a woman today would change her last name. It makes no sense whatsoever. You want future kids to have the same last name as you and your hubby? Hypenate, bitch! Or do something, anything, but change your last name. It's the ultimate buy-in of sexist bullshit. It epitomizes the idea that you are not your own person.
"And while I'll probably continue to be a bit of a fool when it comes to my crushes, I won't make the mistake of prioritizing them at the expense of, dare I say, more important pursuits. Again, don't get all pissy and assume I'm bashing those of you who are in love with love. I understand that feeling - believe me. But you have to admit, we're spending a hell of a lot of time focusing on other people when we could be mixing shit up."
"The problem is, there's still a lot of infighting - particularly of a generational kind - about what a "real" feminist is. Honestly, I'm so fucking sick and tired of people telling me how to be an appropriate feminist - or what a feminist looks like. In the same way it's stupid to say that all feminists are hairy man-haters, it's stupid to say that women who rock heels and mascara aren't hardcore enough or are acquiescing to sexism."
Yeah, I'm sick of women telling other women how to be an "appropriate" feminist too. Especially when they tell other feminists how to be feminists and then further on in the book they've written proceed to complain about people telling them how to be a feminist.
Sigh. This is a swell intro to feminism and all, and reiterates the point that everyone should consider themselves feminists because its cool and not necessarily anti-man or anti-sex or anti-shaving, but if you've done any critical thinking, it's all well-covered territory; what starts out fresh ends up redundant and flat. How many people would really want *equal* rights if it meant that women could be drafted to the battlefield just like men? Valenti glosses over some hardcore points in favor of non-stylish jolts of profanity and dumbed-down language. Not a fan.
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.
I feel that this book is a must read for anyone who identifies as female, or knows someone who identifies as female. It's a perfect beginner's guide to feminism.
Full Frontal Feminism is very informative, and is written in an informal way that makes it fun to read and understand. Valenti's voice is really strong and you can tell she's passionate about what she does. Most of the stuff in this book isn't new to me; I've come across a lot of the info in feminist blog. But for people who know nothing about feminism, I think this could be a real eye-opener. so I really recommend this book to those people.
One thing I really disliked, though, was that Valenti was a bit too opinionated in some aspects. Feminism, for me, is all about choice. But in the chapter about marriage, Valenti goes on a rant about women who change their last names and how that's not very feminist. While she's entitled to her own opinion, it feels very judgemental and scathing to read something like that. I'm sure there are many feminists out there who have married and taken their spouses name. I dunno, it just bothered me. She also ranted about how binge-drinking is "tres gross" and how girls should stop getting drunk if they want to avoid unwanted attention. Now, I'm sorry, but that reeks of victim blaming.
There was also a huge lack of transgendered issues, which, I guess for a beginner's guide I can understand, but for someone as informed as me, I found it a bit jarring, and plain offensive for any trans*folk. It's almost as if they don't exist.
I was also hoping for more of an explanation of race/sexuality/class, but, except for one very quick chapter and a few asides here and there, it was pretty much written for the white, hetro, middle-to-upper-class cis woman. And I dunno, I found that annoying.
Apart from those few issues, though, I found this to be quite informative, and an enjoyable read. Anyone who thinks that women get the short end of the stick (even those who don't think that) should read this book.
I follow Jessica Valenti on Twitter, where she comes in for some of the most insane abuse from internet trolls that I have ever seen--which is baffling, because her views, in my opinion, are quite moderate, not radical at all. Both curious and wanting to support her mission, I decided to catch up on her books and this, her first, seemed the logical place to start. Of course, at this point I am neither new to feminism nor a "young woman," but the completist in me always feels the need to begin at the beginning!
Having said that, if I were new to the whole feminism thing, I'm not sure that this book would've convinced me. The book covers pretty basic information, but Valenti writes as if we're all already in agreement about all of this--never the right tone to take in an introductory volume, in my opinion. Her language is extremely casual (too casual, I think), and she skips rapidly from topic to topic, barely lighting on anything long enough to have much of an impact on the reader. When I think back on the books I read that made me a feminist (Backlash by Susan Faludi and Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem, fwiw), what they had in common was that they were jam-packed with facts and original (for their times) thoughts and ideas, and they were gracefully written and didn't talk down to the reader. I really couldn't say the same for Full Frontal Feminism. I guess it's possible that today's young women, with their internets and their texting, will react better to this book than I did--but I think I would be more inclined to recommend Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me for a quick, contemporary intro to some important feminist issues.
Despite this, I do look forward to checking out Valenti's other books--I'm under the impression that since they're not particularly geared toward a young audience, they have a somewhat different writing style. And I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from reading Full Frontal Feminism. As these things go, it's definitely better than nothing.
I think this is good as an intro book, as it's full of Feminism 101 in that peppy, third-wave kind of way. It may help some people (mostly woman-identified I think) find more reasons to identify with feminism, and definitely has it's place I think for younger generations who have been unwittingly influenced more by the anti-feminist backlash and conservative vitriol regarding who feminists actually are.
But, I was generally disappointed with it, because I didn't need yet another Feminism 101 book, but I got it mainly because there was so much hype about it being such a great book. And that's frustrating, especially when newly-born feminists look to this sort of book and assume that this is all there is. And, this book really seems targeted largely towards middle class white women.
This seems to be par for the course for Jessica Valenti, although I have nothing against her and I think there is still a real need for her kind of work. But I struggle to find how it pushes any new boundaries, or inspires many to look deeper into more critical and complex concepts, nor does it seem to push anyone to think more critically about race and class as important aspects of feminism.
Which is why I can really only give it 2 stars. It's not awful, it's just not... really adding much either.
This was pretty good. I didn't really learn anything from it, but then again, I didn't really expect to. Valenti does a good job of explaining why feminism needs to matter to young women (and men). I read feministing pretty much every day and this book is very much like the blog, so much of it was quite familiar. She has included a good resource guide at the end to find more information and get involved. She covers body issues, pop culture, politics, working vs. stay-at-home moms, issues of masculinity, and reproductive rights.
The only thing that kind of bugged me was the overabundance of cursing throughout the book. Now, I'm no prude: f__k is my favorite word, but it just seemed to be way too much--maybe it was seeing it in print over and over, but the book would have been better off without so much foul language (God, I sound like my mother). The casual language was comforting for the most part, but after the fourth "hells no," I got a little irritated.
Nevertheless, it is an important book that has a good chance of reaching the intended audience--young women. And I think that any young woman who reads it will benefit.
I wish I could give this book a higher rating but Valenti's voice is just too harsh and narrow minded - she seems to think her feminist views are the only right ones. Even though I agree with most of her views, I don't like the way she presents them - people are never going to listen to your ideas and learn from if you're telling them how "fucking dumb" they are for believing in the cultural norms they were brought up with. She also seems to dumb-down or over-simplify her writing and opinions for this book. I get that she is trying to reach a young audience who is new to feminism in a personal way and that's great but for some reason I just couldn't get as into it as I wanted to.
That said, I LOVED certain aspects of the book: she is spreading the word of feminism and trying to teach others about it, she focuses on taking action and gives real examples of ways you can get involved, the stresses the importance of intersectionality and the fact that feminism also helps men, and lastly she references and quotes some other great women and authors and I literally wrote down all of the books in the resources section at the end.
A pretty general introduction to the important facets of third wave feminism. Definitely targeted towards a younger audience than me. I think Valenti's tone was too aggressively friendly; she underestimates her target audience in my opinion. I wish she'd used some more academic language and that intersectionality was discussed in the very beginning. All in all, a good albeit basic guide to third wave feminism for someone who hasn't encountered too much of that before.
this is very much an introduction to feminism and nothing more. as someone who's identified as a feminist for years, i found it rather boring and even a tad annoying (lots of cursing and teen-speak and the cover is um... a naked white hip). but it's pretty good for what it is. it covers a wide range of issues, gives a lot of examples meant to incite rage over sexism, and is written in a way that would be accessible to someone not used to academic writing. unfortunately its wide scope stretched everything a bit thin. i thought it could have focused more specifically on the ways feminism matters to "young" women (the best chapters were those about reproductive rights and "pop culture gone wild") and less on the typical feminist pillars like working outside the home and conflicts between the waves. the author's preferences were obvious in regards to make-up, marriage, etc, and in some ways that made it fun, but in others i think it was a little inappropriate (the last chapter says "so, truly, thanks for reading my random feminist rants." oh, this was just personal rants? about random topics?). also the history of feminism chapter was truly sad. all in all, an okay introduction for a young woman who suspects she's a feminist but isn't sure, but definitely not academic or the only book an almost-feminist should read.
This is an important book because it reminds us that feminism means nothing more than "women are people too and should be treated as such." She then deconstructs the slurs against "feminists" which I thought was really interesting.
This book is not written in an academic tone. But, it's not supposed to. It's not a book that is supposed to gather dust on shelves but to be passed around friends.
I'm going to bring it into my classroom for my students to read. I'm hoping students are attracted by the nekked woman on the front cover and stick around to question the world around them (including the text itself).
This book is about new aged feminism. It should be more so aimed toward young women who are just learning about feminism. Every topic Jessica Valenti describes throughout this book is pretty common knowledge, but it's a start for some young women to become interested in feminism.
- Jessica Valenti is not going to convince anybody who doesn't already have the same narrow viewpoints she does.
- It's an easy read because it's informal, but she loses most of her cred with all her fucking swearing.
- Her book is a good summary of the main points of feminism. She's a good example of a modern feminist and it's nice that she's passionate about it.
- Although she briefly mentions certain counterarguments, she does not develop a counterargument at all and instead she just hovers over certain topics that I think she'll go more into (ex. gays).
- She made so many assumptions and cheap arguments that I was thoroughly irritated and shaking my head. Ex. "Feminists have the best sex." What kind of argument is that? Ex. Her book seems to be written for girls who like sex and are good-looking and like wearing makeup and high heels and what not. By doing that, she narrows her audience. AND by making that assumption, she is projecting her own image of what a "typical girl" should be, which, since the last time I checked, was what feminists were trying to avoid? Ex. She does not acknowledge that some people do not like sex. She assumes that people who don't have sex do that simply because of society's "shaming" pressure. Yeah, let's just ignore that some people don't have sex because of religion, possible pregnancy, not being straight, or their own morals. Ex. Her writing is so dogmatic. Perhaps she is overestimating her ability to be a persuasive writer when she writes at the end "now that you know how fantastic feminism is..." or something along those lines. Also, I just wanted to throw things whenever she said "just something to think about" after making a point she thinks is kickass. Stop acting so smug. It doesn't do anything but make you seem unlikable and arrogant. Ex. She exploits girls' low self-esteem in order to make people join her cause. She almost expects women to have low self-esteem, which of course in her society-is-pressuring-all-women-to-feel-crappy-because-they-set-unrealistic-high-standards-of-sexiness mentality means that all women must feel bad about themselves and there are no other reasons why you should feel bad about yourself and that's why you should be a feminist because it's the only way to feel better about yourself. By creating images of piteous women who have so many problems, she demonstrates that she doesn't respect women like she says she does. Why not start with the assumption that women are strong and are possible of loving themselves because they have a strong sense of who they are and what they want? Ex. She assumes that all girls feel ashamed if they sleep with guys and that they are called sluts constantly. And that if they don't sleep with people, they're not sexy. She actually talks about several of these kinds of dilemmas where women are screwed whichever way they behave. I'm guessing not all girls have this horrible dilemma. I've personally never heard anybody being called ugly or not sexy if they don't have sex. I've heard that they're "no fun," but never that they're ugly. A lot of people have moral or practical reasons to not have sex and I think a lot of people understand that.
- Some of the advice in the back of the book is not advice I think should be given to women. Ex. "Don't Diet." Obviously don't simply diet because you think it'll make you sexier... but diet if that's what you decide is best for you. This is about health. If you follow Valenti's advice and don't diet because defeating gender norms is good for the feminist cause, it's still unhealthy. You are still hurting yourself (by overeating). And I thought Valenti wanted girls to take care of themselves?
- Some good points: I like what she said about being educated about sex. Everybody should be educated, no question. Abstinence-only education is not effective at all. You can't teach morals (not having sex), but you can teach actions (how to put on a condom, how to obtain birth control). I quite liked the chapter about men, although it did not escape much of her narrow-minded point of view on men. She absolutely dismisses sexist men, pretty much saying, "don't bother with them." Actually, what I think you should do, is talk to them quietly about why they think what they think. Get a discussion going. Anyway, back to the chapter... I'm glad she acknowledged that sexism hurts both men and women. I also liked the chapter about violence. Nobody, not just women, should feel afraid of being beat or hurt. Everyone deserves to be safe and feel safe. Don't stay in abusive relationships (this goes for both men and women).
- Some people might like her strong and opinionated writing, but it's honestly not going to convince any non-feminists. If you agree with most of her points, then you'll probably think she's funny and enjoyable to read. But if you're not already a feminist, then you'll just find yourself picking apart arguments, hoping for her to concede a point, but ultimately being disappointed because she never does. If you, for example, were pro-life (though why would you be?) and read this book, you would not find anything that legitimately addresses why you feel you do. All you'd get is "if you're anti-choice, you must be an old white guy who hates women." If narrow-minded yet strongly opinionated woman like Jessica Valenti fall under the word "feminist," then it's no wonder people hate the term and think that it's extreme.
- I confess that I didn't read this book with an open mind, and I really should have, but then again, why should I keep an open mind when reading an author who clearly doesn't?
If you want to learn about feminism in a funny way with real examples and stories than this is the book for you. This book is not a "story", this book is full of facts and tips that flow in a way that make you want to keep reading. This isn't just about "feminism" in the way we traditionally think about it. This book explains what people (male/female/gay/lesbian/straight/transgender/etc..) should and shouldn't be doing to ensure equality for themselves and their bodies. While it may be funny it is real information that women can relate too. Some of the fun facts are clearly the authors own bias but she shares it in a way that makes you laugh, "Don't have sex with republicans.(Okay, that one is just mine.)" page 32. Having the book written in this way makes it an easy and quick read, some chapters you could quickly skim through and others you want to go back and read again because you have to question if you really read those words. How often do you really find a book where the author explains to you that, "In Mississippi you can buy a gun with no background check, but vibrators are outlawed." (page 38)
This book makes you look at biases that exist and explains what you need to be aware of and what is not being told to you. As I was reading about the different bias's it made me think of another story, "How it Feels to Be Colored Me". The bias's are presented in much different ways but they both stop and make you think of yourself and what you really don't know about yourself and other people, only what we think we know (our own bias).
Trying to think about what wasn't good in this book wasn't easy. I really can't think of any "cons" to not read this book, in my opinion all men and women should read this book. It's fun to skim through and reread pages, you can actually learn a lot. It is written in common language that we can all relate too, it is the same language I hear on a regular basis. I'm trying to think what my favorite quote from this book is and I can't just think of one but I leave this quote to make an impression on you, "The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that's not royally fu**ed up". (page 5)
Okay, love this book. But I don't think it'll work for everyone, depending on how many WS classes you've had. If you're a self-identified hardcore feminist then you won't really find anything new. However, I still think it's worth a read for the simple affirmation of "Thank god someone else agrees with me!" And her writing is pretty humorous, if sometimes forced into psuedo-hip, nonchalant cursing commentary. And the phrase "par for the course" is overused, but that might just be because I've read huge chunks of it over a couple days.
She does make some interesting insights into the "wave gap" and the bullshit cultural objectification touted as "empowerment" (ahem Pussycat Dolls ahem).
If you don't identify as much of a feminist, then I think this is really worth your time. There may be more than one or two epiphanies in these pages. And I think men should read it too; I know I'm giving it to my boyfriend when I'm done!
All in all, I *heart* Jessica Valenti. I'll of course keeping going to feministing.com and buying future books. Hopefully with time, and better editors, she'll be able to refine her voice and expand the audience she's addressing. Lord knows we need more people to hear it.
This is a very conversational book, definitely aimed at younger readers. I did not realize when I picked it up that I was no longer a young woman! Still, Valenti discusses the front-running issues of 'fourth wave' feminism in a sister-friend tone with plenty of academic references and footnotes to give further fuel for girls who want to learn more. Hell, the chapter on Masculinity and growing up male in America had me scribbling titles and authors on my bedside notepad. I appreciated the new source texts that Valenti references, but was a little shocked that I didn't see nods to any of the greats [I'm thinking of Cunt, Riot Grrls, anything by Deb Tannen, The Feminine Mystique, The Second Sex:] anywhere other than the 'additional reading' page, given the number of outside references she made. She runs a reasoned discussion of the importance of feminism to the layman conversation, though, and perhaps my taste for established academia is showing. Regardless, this is a great primer for young girls in the contemporary issues, causes, and accomplishments of feminism, as well as a good zeitgeist shot of what's probably the end of the 'waves' terminology. Valenti counts herself in the third wave and seems to address her readers as the fourth wave, but makes reference to the decline of the wave nomenclature and the desire to move forward without these overarching labels [though she does not discuss the sub-genre movement, which I think has become a point of confusion for young women already stymied in the idea that the seperatism of feminism that steeps and scars our history is somewhat inherent in calling yourself a lipstick/amazon/anti-porn/sex-positive/third world/post colonial/eco/anarchist/equity feminist. I admit that I have trouble with this myself, sometimes:]. I would be proud and excited to pass this book on to young girls in my circle, though I would probably hold off till they were about 16 for parts of the sex discussion that could raise awkward questions with younger girls not in my direct care.
I wanted to hear what young feminists are saying these days. She writes in an irreverent “potty mouth” urban style that seems real and will appeal to younger women, and what she writes is smart and true, and does tackle some of the newer issues, like girl on girl for male titillation, lipstick and mascara and fashion and how it is okay, emergency contraception. I am still trying to get over how many times she used shit in the book, as in “shit, they are crazy” or “shit, I can’t believe I…” I did cringe at the word m#$%^f*&*^&, it is the line or crosses near it, I think, for me. Otherwise, I liked it, and while I can’t see a young woman reading it really young, as I had hoped, it has value. I thought a lot about the mascara thing; and how some say we shouldn’t wear it because it reinforces cultural stereotypes about what is attractive; she wears makeup and fun clothes and is okay with it; and I am too- I don’t wear makeup to look like anyone else, or to fit an ideal. I am also inspired to do more internet campaigning for women’s issues and humanity’s issues; if we are silent, then we are invisible.
Jessica Valenti is the rock star feminist of our generation. She makes feminism cool, relevant, and universally acceptable. I am more of an advanced feminist and frequent feministing.com reader, so many of the topics covered by Jessica weren't new to me, but I gave a copy to my friend who just graduated high school as a primer on feminism. Most important, Jessica makes the personal political and imbues her own experiences throughout the broader themes of the book. Her approach is inclusive; she also addresses racism, discrimination against gays and lesbians, and the impact of class on feminism and the women's movement. I would highly recommend this book to young people of all ages and to their parents and grandparents and others for help in understanding what today's young women face in schools, workplaces, relationships, and society in general. It's a quick, fun read that will definitely inspire you to take action and join the legions of fans who (deservingly) worship Ms. Valenti.
Wow, this book was just, wow. I was a woman who cringed at the word feminist, but I wanted equal pay, reproductive rights, and power over my own body. I like to look nice and shave my legs, so I didn't identify with the stereotypical feminist. Now, I'm proud to say I'm a feminist. No matter what people, usually men, would have you believe, we women do have less and it's time for that to change.
Read this book, give it to your daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers as well as your spouses, sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Women's rights affect us all and we all deserve to live in a society where we can walk down the street without fear and have the right to do what we want with our own body. If you don't know there's a problem, how can you work on fixing it?
I can't stress this enough, you need to read this book!
Like her other book, The Purity Myth, Valenti has a tendency to build straw man arguments for her opponents, as well making numerous hasty generalizations about Republicans and pro-life supporters. In spite of such tendencies, I really enjoyed her exposé of sexism and anti-feminist movements in American society today. I would definitely recommend it for those that say "I'm not a Feminist, I'm a humanist." Insightful and funny, it was a very quick read.
I love that Valenti does a great job recapping the history of feminism, celebrating what has been accomplished, and looking forward to the work that still needs to be done. Even if you are conservative and do not consider yourself a feminist, you will (hopefully) at least see that today's expectations of gender roles are far from perfect and have a long way to go toward making the world a better place for men and women.