I Call Myself A Feminist is a collection of essays on feminism, written by a group of twenty five women under thirty. Interspersed with quotes from famous feminists, these essays get at the heart of modern feminism, discussing issues as widespread as catcalling, female genital mutilation, trans activism, sexual assault, education, intersectional discrimination, workplace sexism, and many more, this collection is easily one of the best, brightest and funniest assemblages of feminist work I have seen.
By limiting the collection to essays written by women under thirty, this collection allows the voices of young feminists the space to share their own stories about their feminist history and vocalise their concerns about how the patriarchy and misogyny operates in their world. I have rarely come across a collection such as this which focuses so significantly on the concerns of young feminists, those who have inherited a rich feminist history and tradition, and have, by extension, inherited all the stereotypes and problematics of this feminist tradition. More than one of the women in this collection have a personal family connection to a famous feminist or feminist movement, and the discussion that this collection allows them to have about their connection to historical feminism and the expectations around furthering the feminist cause is a vital one, especially when considering how young people are often the ones who seek the most revolutionary changes in society.
Perhaps the most poignant theme carried across the collection is a concern for the term ‘feminism’ itself, and the problematic associations people have attributed to the word in the last few decades. As a young feminist, I completely empathise with this concern. In many spaces, feminism is still considered a dirty word, used in connection with the archaic idea of the angry bra burning feminist, the feminist who hates all men and wants to eliminate them in order for female domination to ensue. I don’t think I have ever met a feminist like this in my life, and the likelihood of my meeting one any time soon is extremely slim. And yet, to call yourself a feminist can often mean that people immediately envision this version of you – a bitter angry woman who wants to complain about everything.
I Call Myself A Feminist seeks to reclaim the feminist label for those who seek both small and immediate changes alongside fundamental shifts in human thinking. The essayists in this collection proclaim their appreciation for the feminists before them, whilst also seeking to write their own feminism, seeking equality and justice in all aspects of life. As the editors state in their introduction to the collection:
“This book is for everyone everywhere – a statement of intent. ‘I call myself a feminist’ is an active, personal and powerful phrase. It is a statement of a way of thinking that we have chosen to become a part of us – a part of the many quirks and intrigue that make us ourselves.”
It is for this reason that I cannot help but sing my praises for this book. I Call Myself A Feminist is an important read for young feminists, to encourage them to unashamedly, unabashedly call themselves feminists, without fear or worry for the connotations that the label has held before. It is call for us all to find our own definition of what it means to be feminist, and to actively hold ourselves to account when enacting our own feminism.
I Call Myself A Feminist is now available in all good bookstores. As always, INWORDSANDINK encourages its reader to buy from and support their local independent bookstores.
Thank you once again to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of I Call Myself A Feminist. Whilst I was sent the book for reviewing purposes, I was not in any way paid or financially obligated to write this review.
© Hayley New 2016