Something Needs to Change: A Feminist Rant


I am sick of YA books ignoring feminism. I am sick of YA female protagonists having so much internalised misogyny that it is teaching other girls to be that way. I am sick of the ‘hot abusive bad boy’ trope. I am sick of YA love interests controlling their girlfriends, and teaching younger audiences that this is acceptable, and even something to aspire too! I am sick of sexism being ignored and overlooked, or sometimes even praised. I am sick of anti-feminist YA and I demand change.

I recently read What’s A Girl Gotta Do? By Holly Bourne; it has changed my life, and made me realise just how much books - and the world - need to change. In the book, Lottie sets out to call out every piece of sexism she sees, and it was just so inspirational. We follow her struggles through it - because what she did would have pretty tough! - and it empowered and uplifted me so much that I want to change things. And this starts with YA books.

YA books are pretty progressive in their ideas about social justice. There’s books about race, class, feminism, gender, mental health that I don’t think you would find in any other genre, and I think this is a great thing! It’s one of the reasons why I love YA books so much. Obviously, they are targeted towards teenagers, and what better way to start to change the world than with the next generation? YA readers are often very open minded, so making books more feminist would teach people just how important the political movement is.

It’s pretty hard being a feminist - pretty much everything we do is over-analysed and criticized (which in itself is pretty sexist!). Everyone who added to #IAmAFeminist a few weeks ago got hate and people trolling them, just for sharing their opinion. It’s clear that either people don’t know the true meaning of feminism, or just plainly dislike women (I think it’s a bit of both!).

In addition to this, I point you towards a recent interview with Sarah Jessica Parker. In this, she said that she wasn’t a feminist because she believed that all genders should be equal. (Personally I believe people like this aren’t the biggest problem - we’re all fighting for the same cause, and while their ignorance does annoy me, I think we should be focusing on bigger problems, like FGM and rape culture, as well as actually doing things about it). But I think this shows that she needs to be educated, because I’m sure she isn’t the only one who feels like this. (You can see the interview here). Kim Kardashian has also recently said she isn’t a feminist (which you can see here).

I am so angry because so many books just ignore feminism, even if the authors claim to be feminists. I believe (as controversial as this may be!) that just calling yourself a feminist isn’t enough - ask most women and they will tell you they’re a feminist (I hope!). (Obviously, it’s better to identify as a feminist than not, but I still don’t think it’s enough). I think that to make change, we need to use our voices and not be silenced, and authors can do this through their books.

It doesn’t have to be specifically discussing the feminist movement. I think that just talking about feminist ideas is super helpful and will really go a long way to enlightening people! If all authors chipped in, it would change the world! For example, in Trouble by Non Pratt (yes, yes, I can’t write a discussion without mentioning this book!), feminism isn’t outright discussed, but Hannah talks about how her being ‘easy’ doesn’t denote her self worth. She is proud of who she is! I love the way it talks about slut shaming and misogyny during sex, and it changed the way I thought about feminism slightly. I know it will do the same for so many other people who read it too!

YA books need to show that no always means no. There’s so many romance books (especially in the paranormal genre) where the girl is telling the guy she doesn’t want to kiss/have sex with him, but he keeps persisting, sometimes even to the point of physically grabbing her. The girl finds this hot and irresistible, and it’s so wrong - we should not be teaching people that assault is attractive. This is so toxic and is just adding to rape culture! So many books are guilty of this - Hush Hush, Obsidian, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Shatter Me are just some examples.

Something needs to be done, and awareness needs to be spread. I believe feminism is essential for everyone, and the time when the whole world becomes feminist is when sexism might finally be destroyed, and the patriarchy might be taken down. Awareness will help the movement so much and if authors are able to help spread it, they would be doing so much for the feminist movement. Everyone might be able to be made aware, and it would create a generation of feminists!

That’s why What’s A Girl Gotta Do? is so important. It’s empowering, and really inspired me to follow in Lottie’s footsteps to call out sexism! I think I’m already quite aware of modern everyday sexism, so my experiences of the book will be different - for me, it inspired me to do what Lottie did, and I could really relate to her experiences. For others, it will ‘enlighten’ on how much sexism there is everyday, and inspire them to do further research on the feminist campaign. It’s such an important book, and I really hope Holly Bourne inspires authors to do what she’s done so fantastically well.

If you want to do more reading on feminism, I would recommend:
  • All the Rage (tw rape)
  • Asking For It (tw rape) and Only Ever Yours
  • Trouble
  • Spinster Trilogy (Am I Normal Yet?, How Hard Can Love Be?, What’s A Girl Gotta Do?)
  • Needlework (I haven’t read this one yet, but I own it, and it’s meant to be amazing!)
  • An Ember in the Ashes (this is fantasy and doesn’t really talk about feminism, but I loved the ideas of gender and women and thought it was so feminist)

Non fiction:
  • I Call Myself A Feminist (I would recommend this if you are looking for more reasons to be a feminist or a recently one - I rated it not too highly because I found the ideas to not be too progressive, but I think that was just me, because I think I’ve become a lot more used to it, and maybe even a little desensitized with the environment I’ve grown up in and the liberal circles I tend to be more active in)
  • Bad Feminist (more on intersectional feminism, and feminism and race)
  • Everyday Sexism and Girl Up (I haven’t read these yet but I really want to, and they’ve been recommended to me so many times!)
  • We Should All Be Feminists

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