Monday, September 22, 2008
Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti
In a world where "rape culture" is prevalent, women are still not making as much money as men on the dollar, and abstinence only education is still what's being pushed in the classrooms, I would have to wholeheartedly agree with Valenti that fighting for women's rights is an important issue and that feminism still has a function in our society. It's feminists like Valenti, however, that frighten me. Yes, there is good cause for women to be angry, but if the well educated women are screaming and slinging a distracting amount of obscenity around while they are trying to get their point across, they aren't going to use their platform for change effectively.
Full Frontal Feminism quickly glosses over all of the major issues in a way that would not be very enlightening to anyone with previous knowledge on women's issues/rights. I suppose this is appropriate though, given that it is after all suppose to be a young woman's guide and targeted directly at women who do not already consider themselves feminists (though why one of those would read this without it being shoved at them I do not know.) Valenti's writing tries too hard to be hip and push the envelope with an excessive amount of f-bomb dropping and conservative-bashing. For example, in her chapter about women reclaiming a more healthy sense of sexuality, she included not having sex with Republicans in her sex tips. Is that really necessary?
The main issue I have with Valenti is that the majority of her book rides on opinion and not fact. Given that she studied at Rutgers and worked for a variety of women's organizations (such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood) it seems like she would be a woman ready to back up her witty quips with stats. While there are places where she does give reference where reference is due it's not nearly consistent enough.
I use to volunteer at the Women's Center on campus and if I ran out of things to do on my desk shift I could usually be found reading the books on their Women's Lit shelf. Let's just say that if I went back now to volunteer I wouldn't be putting my copy of Full Frontal Feminism on their shelves. I'll stick to Eve Ensler and co.
If you are interested in what Valenti has to say, she's responsible for the feministing website.