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Time for another The Personal is Political series post! If you are unfamiliar with this series I’ve created, check out the introduction and explanation of how I review books for these posts. If you are familiar, then you already know what to expect from me in this review, and I hope you’re excited! I received a lot of positive feedback on the first review which really meant a lot to me. Thank you to everyone who commented or messaged me privately!
OK, let’s get started.
I received a free, advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher for the reading & reviewing opportunity.
I Am a Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times
by Monique Polak
Published on May 7th, 2019 by Orca Book Publishers
How’s the writing? ★★★★★
Much like the other book I read from this series, the writing was very smooth and transitioned well from chapter to chapter. Because there was more personal content, it wasn’t quite as formal as the last, but I still felt like the writing was very professional and polished.
Was this educational/informational? ★★★★★
This was incredibly educational! Being a feminist doesn’t require you to know everything about the history of the fight for equality, but if you are interested in gaining some knowledge about the waves of feminism, this is a great place to start your research. The book is very informational and has a bit of a textbook feel to it. Statistics are provided at times, but this is mostly a book about the past, present, and history. You’ll learn what has come before you, what feminists are fighting for now, and what we hope to see in the future.
Was the information credible? ★★★★★
Because this book references hard facts at times, a full list of citations is included in the back of the book, separated by chapters. Looking over the citations, many come from sources such as the American Psychological Association, centers for justice statistics, university conducted research, and more.
How personal was this? Did it include any biases? ★★★★★
This book was definitely more personal than the last that I reviewed in this series. While this book does clearly aim to inform, there was more personal content that added to the writer’s purpose. In the beginning, the author talks about a 13 year old girl she interviewed, who, when asked if she considered herself a feminist, answered, “I’m not sure. But I do believe women should have equal rights.’ ‘In that case’, the author states, ‘you are a feminist.'” Interviews between the author and feminists from all over the world are featured like this in the book, so while it is a bit more personal, it doesn’t take away from the overall learning experiences. A few times throughout, the author will offer a slightly more intimate experience or thought, but never in an overwhelmingly biased way. For example, because the author is a teacher, she shares things she has tried to teach her students about the fight for equality among all.
Was this intersectional? ★★★★★
Apart from the history lesson that this provided me, my favorite part of it was the inclusiveness. A book about feminism that does not aim to include everyone really misses the whole point, don’t you think? The sixth chapter in this book is all about diversity: it covers race, Indigeneity, gender and sexuality, disabled persons, and sex workers. This chapter is one most packed with factual information, sharing stats such as :
60% of women with disabilities have experienced some form of violence (p. 85 in digital copy)
black women experience poverty at a higher rate than any other group, with the exception of Indigenous women (p.77)
40,000 individuals lost their government jobs between the 1950s and 1990s because of their sexual orientation (p.84)
in 2014, black women had the highest unemployment rate (10.5%) among women, compared to 5.2% for white women (p.77)
according to a study done in 2014 by the University of Victoria’s Institute for Gender and Health, 77% of Canadian sex workers are women (p.88)
women with disabilities are 4x more likely to have been sexually assaulted than women without disabilities (p.86)
in the US, Indigenous women are far more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women (p.80)
lesbian and bisexual women frequently face discrimination in the workplace, earning lower salaries and having less opportunity for advancement (p.83)
in Canada, Indigenous women make up only 3% of the female population, yet make up 10% of all females murdered in Canada (p.80)
According to Statistics Canada, 294 sex workers in Canada were murdered between the years 1991-2014 (p.88)
That’s a lot of information and a lot of inclusivity.
How relevant is this topic to society as a whole? ★★★★★
Equal rights is important in all countries of the world. For that reason, I think it’s important that feminist books reference the inequalities all around the world to fully cover the problem that we face as a general society. It can sometimes be easy to forget about the rights of women in other countries when you are fighting for yours where you live, but it matters everywhere. This book did not just cover the things women face in America or even Canada. The second chapter of this book aimed to educate about access to education and heath care for women around the world, the major issue of female genital mutilation, war in other countries and the detrimental effect placed on girls and women, and even sex slavery. These are humongous problems in our society, even if these terrors are happening thousands of miles away from you.
How relevant is this topic to the feminist movement? ★★★★★
“If you are living in relative comfort in North America- meaning you have food, clothing, a safe place to live and access to health care and education- you may also grow up thinking there’s no need for feminism. But there is. Feminism is not a done deal.” (p. 12)
Considering that this book is entirely about feminism, it’s obviously very relevant to the topic. It was not harmful in any way to the movement (meaning it did not spread hate or false information). It included issues from all over the world and that effect women of all different cultural backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and identities.
My final reaction
After reading the last book in this series from Orca, I knew going into this that I was going to get educated. I had an idea of what to expect this time around, but that didn’t make the bulk of information any less shocking. This provided a diverse, inclusive, informal, personal look into women’s rights and the fights across the globe to gain equality. This is the type of book that I want to share with people when they say, “What rights don’t women have that men have?!”. This is the type of book you want to share with people who don’t understand how you can call yourself such a “dirty word” like feminist. It educates and it informs. If I hadn’t already been an advocate for intersectional feminism before this, I would’ve been after it.
Final tally: 35/35 stars → 5 star read!
I know that this is only my second review in this series and that both have been five star ratings thus far, but I promise if you read these books, you’d feel the same way about them!