Book review by Tanita Davis via Finding Wonderland 2/7/2017.
Synopsis: To me, this book is about identity, and how we live it out in our individual ways. The book is divided into Beginning the Journey, Bodies & Minds, Gender & Sexuality, Pop Culture, Relationships, Confidence & Ambition, and finally concludes with Go Your Own Way, which touches on the many ways people can be feminists. Each section has between 8 – 15 essays, cartoons, lists, glossaries, illustrations, songs, or doodles on the subject, written by people of various identities and abilities. Readers feel welcomed into the book from any direction. I started out reading from the front cover, and then flipped to a cartoon, circled back to another essay, and then read specific essays on various topics after that. Eventually, I made my way through everything.
Observations: Feminism is a concept which, when one is familiar with a world which lacks intersectionality, one does not necessarily expect to find oneself. To be blunt: I didn’t really think this book was for me. Full disclosure: I’ve met and quite like the editor, I’ve met some of the poets and artists and essayists, but… Feminism. It’s not an identity I’ve had time to explore.
As a woman of color, feminism seemed like unto yoga: something a lot of white women get into seriously and give side-eye at other people for not quite belonging. As a person raised in faith and wrestling with relating a tradition-bound religious patriarchy to an allegedly loving and equality creating Divinity, feminism seemed like something both too deep and too complicated to add to the mix. And yet: shouldn’t anyone who believes in human equality be feminist? I realized I wasn’t quite sure anymore what feminism was supposed to be… and I thought this book would be perfect since it’s aimed at teens, and I know that books for younger readers often help adult readers get a grip on a concept. I sat down and tried to read with an open mind.
Almost at once, I found a few favorite pieces which spoke to my heart, among them Lisa Prince’s So I Guess This Is Growing Up, about her struggles with being a misogynist to becoming feminist; Kaye Mirza’s Faith and the Feminist (“As long as I practice my faith, to many, I am nothing but a secondhand feminist.”); the beautifully drawn, The Princess and the Witch by Wendy Xu; Ashley Hope Pérez’s The “Nice Girl” Feminist, and 5 Tips for “Nice Girl” Feminists. It was like seeing a pair of signal flags waving from the runway saying, “Your Spot Right Here.” There’s this feeling of, “Oh! Huh,” when you find your tribe and didn’t expect it.
Conclusion: This book is something which should simply be experienced. I’m not big on gushing, especially about books done by friends. I try to be objective and restrained. But, I just think this book is worth buying – for anyone. For everyone. I can’t be more objective than that. The little arrows on the front that say “Here We Are” are for you, too. You’re Here. We all are – and it’s a surprise and a hopeful little blessing.
I purchased my copy of this book. You can find HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD edited by Kelly Jensen, at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!