Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Feminist Orchestra: I Call Myself A Feminist- Edited by Victoria Pope, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride, Martha Mosse.

The first book for March in Jean (BookishThoughts)'s book club, The Feminist Orchestra, is I Call Myself A Feminist: The view from twenty-five women under thirty. An edited collection of essays, written by women under thirty, this book offers various perspectives from women on their reasons for calling themselves feminists. There is plenty of discussion going on the thread on the Goodreads page where everyone one seems to be coming to a similar consensus.

One common comment is on the feeling that some of the chapters could go a little more in depth than they do. Depth was a bit of an issue for me in some of the essays. Some of them almost felt like first drafts... and this was all the more obvious next to the stand out chapters, where I became really aware of the difference in quality of writing. However I'm willing to chalk this up to an earnest attempt to get multiple voices of women under 30. Not meaning to imply younger writers are not good writers, but more that in some cases this will have perhaps been their 3rd essay on feminism and not their 100th.

It's also maybe a taste thing. I was really drawn to the more stylised or topic specific essays like Naomi Mitchison's 'A Typical Engineer', which focussed on feminism in the male dominated engineering industry, and Alice Stride's 'This is NOT a feminist rant: the language of silencing women' , which looked at the all too persuasive 'sexist whisper', and 'My journey to feminism' by Louise O'Neill, which had a similar outline to other chapters, but was full of O'Neill's clever wit, sarcasm and humour. In these essays the author's personal voice or writing style really strongly showed through, and I preferred these in contrast to the almost schooly personal statement vibes I got from a few.

The effort to include non-white and non-cis and non-straight feminist voices, however was so great to see. I felt like my claims of intersectional-feminism were bolstered by these diverse stories. Maysa Haque's 'Islam is my feminism and feminism is my Islam' was so interesting, and I always appreciate some cat love. '"Roti kamana": stories of survival' by Samira Shackle was equal parts immensely illuminating and horrifying. And the words of Meltem Avcii in her essay 'Why I call myself a feminist' were seriously powerful.

So I have finished with the feeling that I could probably manage to get my teeth into some more advanced/academic feminist writing, which is an exciting thought as I'd quite like to have a bookshelf full of feminist books that I've actually read AND understood. 

This month it's Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which I plan to read in a much more timely manner than I did with this one!

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