Why I Am Not a FeministWhy I Am Not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jessa Crispin does an excellent job outlining a lot of the basic, and more sophisticated, tenets of feminism in her effort to clarify how pop-culture has bastardized many of feminism’s original initiatives. Her main arguments are against universal feminism, choice feminism, and outrage (the kind you see online mostly). I can’t sum up the book, nor do it justice here, and I will likely have to listen again to really understand her message, but on first listen her thoughts struck me on two distinct levels.

1. Before listening to this book I had only a laymen’s understanding of feminism, one heavily influenced by pop-culture and my brief forays onto internet discussion boards and various TED talks (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s primarily). Ms. Crispin’s arguments painted an entirely different portrait of feminism for me, and she was really right on the money with a lot of things I had perceived but couldn’t put words to. For example her argument that measuring feminism through standard patriarchal success metrics (how many female CEOs are there now?) is a hollow, meaningless practice. Also she mentions that if we are working only on being individually more egalitarian then it becomes just another metric with which we measure ourselves against others within a patriarchal schema, and as such is useless/counterproductive.

2. Surprisingly, for me, her book underlined a lot of the areas where I suffer in life that I previously thought had nothing to do with gender and so nothing to do with feminism. Comparing myself to others under traditional metrics of success, the narcissism that accompanies an individual effort to be more egalitarian (vs a community-based approach), and the reminder that our self-development culture wherein we focus on improving our flaws is a culture of oppression for all of us.

I listened to this book on Audible, but I think I would like to read it as well so that I can take notes on the more controversial statements she makes throughout.

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photo credit: spanaut walking away via photopin (license)

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