We’ve come a long way since the women’s right’s movement of the 1960′s- women are working in greater numbers than ever before, and in many ways, we’re closer to Equal Rights than we’ve ever been before. But as feminist and blogger Jessica Valenti points out in her 2007 book, Full Frontal Feminism, we’ve still got a long, long way to go . In the book, Ms. Valenti explores different areas of concern for the ongoing women’s right’s movement, and why it’s more important than ever for feminists and women to fight for equality.
I admit, I’m pretty new to feminism. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to roll my eyes with the best of them when the men in my life have said sexist things. But it didn’t really start to get to me until last year. One person in particular sort of set me down this path of wanting to know more about feminism and women’s rights and abilities, when he argued that women were illogical and crazy (citing the same ideology as former Harvard President Lawrence Summers that women were just naturally not as good at math or science- which Valenti brings up on page 10).
Full Frontal Feminism is a great introduction to the “third wave” of feminism for the current generation. It covers everything from the history of feminism to current wage gaps, from legislation affecting women to the insanity that is the wedding industry, and everything in between. In particular, I appreciated that Valenti not only discussed how negative attitudes toward women hurts women- it hurts men as well by forcing them to live up to restrictive gender norms and roles. For those of us whose gender studies education left a lot to be desired, it was a bit overwhelming to take in all of the ways in which equality was still a long way off.
Valenti’s conversational style makes it easier to take in all of her points. Rather than feeling like I was being lectured at or talked down to, I felt like I had a much better grasp on exactly what feminism was, and why it mattered, by the time I was done reading this book. And in light of the vitriol surrounding women (and in particular their reproductive rights and lack thereof) during this election cycle, it has made this book all the more timely and important.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about feminism, but isn’t sure where to start (Valenti has provided a detailed list of resources). I also recommend this book to anyone who thinks feminism doesn’t matter or is only for hairy liberal women. Because it’s definitely not.