Tag Archives: feminism

Flame in the Mist by Reneè Ahdieh. Review 

I want to clear something up with regards to this book. It is not a Milan retelling despite what’s been going around. For one it’s set in Japan not China and for two other than cross dressing it has no similarities at all. Disclaimer: I will be using Mulan Gifs in this review because I can 😉 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the review. 

I received Flame in the Mist in my May Fairyloot box and instantly fell in love with the cover. I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! The premise interested me as well, I’ve not read much about Japanese folklore or myths and legends and my entire experience of any kind of Japanese literature is the novels of Haruki Murakami. So I was admittedly very interested to step out into the unknown. 

I’m really glad that I did! Mariko is travelling to the imperial city in a litter when it is attacked, all her samurai and servants are killed and Mariko, convinced it is the work of the infamous renegades, The Black Clan, sets out to find them, infiltrate them and find out why they wanted her dead. I loved the character of Mariko or at least the idea of her, not once was she described as particularly beautiful apart from in the view as a prize for the Emperors son. Instead she is smart, a scholar, a whiz with her mind and with inventions and you know what? That’s really cool and makes a nice change. Lots of books feature smart girls but often the focus is on the fact that they are beautiful and smart. It was nice to see something fresh here. 

I liked all of the characters who all had a lot of story, I’d certainly like to know more of their stories though as it feels a bit like we were fed titbits. This combined with the ending is definitely making me hope for a second novel! 

I also really liked that Mariko didn’t become some fearsome warrior because that would have just been too Mulan inspired for words. In fact she is an individual in her own right completely separate from any other fictional character I’ve read and I loved her the more for it! 

The storyline was well played if a little slow to begin with. It soon picked up the pace and we were treated to folklore, culture, division between rich and poor, man and woman, dark magic and most importantly what I viewed as the moral of the story that the lines between good and evil are not always that well drawn. 

In summary I really liked this book and feel that it is off to a promising start for a series or at least a second book, so fingers crossed there will be one! 

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Review. 

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of the classics but hallelujah I seem to have found an classic author I can actually get on with. 

Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd is not a great tome of a book and neither is it a difficult read in terms of language or content. But the messages it gives are big ones. 

Bathsheba Everdeen is a headstrong young woman with no less than three suitors. First there is Gabriel Oak who proposes to her first when he is attempting life as a gentleman farmer, then there is an actual gentleman farmer Mr Boldwood who also proposes marriage and is asked to wait. Finally there is the seductive soldier Frank Troy who is completely unsuitable but hey, everyone likes a bad boy right? 

Literally though, Bathsheba is the worst! She’s so annoying! So conceited, so arrogant, she clearly thinks herself to be stunning and strong and usually I’d love the idea of such an apparent feminist but in this case she doesn’t even come across as a feminist. What she comes across as is selfish and at times just a little bit bloody stupid! 

I did enjoy the novel because the prose is excellent and the storyline well put together. It is not a criticism of the author’s work to say that Bathsheba is what she is, it is more that I think Hardy probably wrote her that way. She could never discover the error of her ways after all if she didn’t make errors in the first place! 

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter. Review

I really, really, really, wanted to like this book. I love Dawn O’Porter and her Column is the first thing I read in Glamour magazine every month. When I saw she was publishing a novel championing feminism I was really excited, and when I saw it on Netgalley I jumped at the chance. 

I wasn’t wholly disappointed don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, there was just too much going on

The novel is split between 3 characters; 

Tara is a documentary producer and a single mother of a 6 year old daughter, after a hot date in a bar she does something which is going to change her life forever. 

Camilla (Cam) was one of the first people to treat her blog as a business. She’s living the high life in her million pound Victorian flat with her 28 year old lover (Cam is 36) and her ability to write great feminist posts. Right now that involves becoming ‘the face of childless women’. 

Stella is having problems getting her life together, her mother and her twin sister died within a year of each other and now she’s had some devastating news of her own. News that’s made her just a little bit crazy. 

The novel covers A LOT of issues. I kind of get why, I see why Dawn an avid feminist herself would want to write about absolutely everything. I know what that’s like because when I start talking feminism I want to blurt it all out too. But that’s unfortunately how this novel feels. Like Dawn is trying to cram every single feminist issue into one 400 page book. 

Just a smidgen of what is covered in this book: 

  • Women with younger lovers 
  • Women having casual sex 
  • Women not telling men their pregnant 
  • Women mastrubating 
  • Sexism in the workplace 
  • Feminism in different age groups 
  • Cancer 
  • Crazy people who want babies so bad they create nefarious plans 
  • The solidarity of female friendships 

These subjects all matter don’t get me wrong. They’re all important subjects, they all need addressing but the flood of them all at once made this book boring, tedious and forced at times. 

I felt like feminism was being rammed down my throat and that’s coming from me as a feminist. This book felt like that angry bra burner who physically attacks men in the street. Not to ever tell an author how to write their book but this would have worked better as 3 serials. It doesn’t work as a novel. It’s just too far fetched. 

The Power Naomi Alderman Review 

When I first heard about The Power my initial thoughts were FINALLY. Finally someone has written something about women becoming powerful. Women being treated like equals, having rights. An end to the oppression and gender inequality. It seemed like a cross between the Hunger Games and the suffragette movement.
For the first half The Power fulfilled what I had expected. All of a sudden all over the world women were taking back their lives. Child rapists were murdered, sex workers rebelled against their captors and escaped, Saudi Arabia was bedlam as women oppressed for centuries fought back against the men who had controlled them. In the second half however things changed. It happened slowly but I began to feel uncomfortable. These women weren’t using these powers for good. They were using to rape, maim, enslave and destroy. They had turned the world on its head and simply changed the roles. Women now treat men as they have been treating them. Hurrah I hear you shout but no. Its not like that. Feminism and empowerment is not about vengeance and destruction it is about equality for women and men alike. This book is a book about oppression of a sex the only difference being it is men who are oppressed and not women. It is not a nice feeling.

The novel has several different narrators. There is Roxy the crime boss’s daughter from London, Allie an orphan from Jackson, Tunde a Nigerian journalist and an female American mayor looking to rise in the political race. Its a definite skill of this author to be able to change the readers views halfway through the novel, discovering that the characters they originally empathised with they now abhor and vice-versa.

This novel offers an interesting perspective on what the world would be like should women become tyrannical. My only criticism would be that the novel could have been longer. It was relatively short for its genre and I felt that it left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction as it answered no questions nor provided any information about what might happen next.

What does feminism mean to me… 

Remember that time you were standing your ground in your battle against racism and you said ‘there are good and bad in all people’ or ‘just because one person of a certain race or religion did something terrible it doesn’t make them all the same?’ 

It’s a great philosophy to have and one that I use myself. What I don’t understand is why this doesn’t apply to feminists as well. 

People choose to be feminists because they want to stand up for something they believe in. Namely equality. This comes across in different ways dependant on the person. Some women like Tess Holliday choose to celebrate feminism using body positivity and the right to choose to be whatever size you want to be without conforming to the standards of beauty the Western World expects of us. Other feminists like Malala Yousafzai fight for the rights of women in 3rd world countries to have the right to education and a voice. Then there’s Kim Kardashian but I’m not getting in to that… 

My point being that I’m getting a little tired of everybody using social media as a platform to try and destroy the feminist movement. I’m sick of going on Facebook and seeing these new videos and vlogs by men using feminism and misconstrued quotes from feminists to slander and drive women back under the rock we’ve spent hundreds of years crawling out from under. 

Not everyone is going to agree with your brand of feminism. Not every feminist wants to grow their armpit hair, put on ten stone, win a Nobel peace prize or post a naked selfie on Twitter but they should still have the choice to do that if they wish. Feminism is about equality. It’s not about man hating or burning bras or not respecting the fact that men have issues too. In fact it’s just the opposite. 

Feminists want to get rid of the idea that men have to conform to a certain masculine expectation. They want to respect that men don’t have to go to the gym everyday or have their beards shaved in a certain way to be attractive or live to unrealistic body standard set by the media and celebrities. If your a guy I bet your nodding your head and saying hell yeah right now because why should you be expected to do that? But then maybe you’re also the sort of guy who thinks that women should wear makeup and bras and shave their body hair in order to be attractive. 

We might not all agree on the semantics of person specific branches of feminism but that is exactly what they are: person specific. Not every feminist believes in the exact same particulars but overall we agree that certain things need to be made more equal. That if men can choose to either shave or keep their body hair and still be attractive then women should as well. You can’t complain that your other half takes 3 hours to get ready when society dictates that she has too in order to be feminine. 

So this is what feminism means to me: 

  • Where I hold the same qualification or same role as a male colleague I would expect to be paid the same amount of money. That means a base salary not inclusive of overtime or annual leave. – I am lucky in my job that this is the case but I know at least one male who is paid £3,000 a year more than his female colleague for working the same role.  So yes in some cases the pay gap does exist. 
  • I want to be able to feel comfortable wearing what I want including makeup. – I still feel despite all my views against it that I cannot have the confidence to go to work without putting makeup on. 
  • I want to be able to look after my own body without people disdainfully telling me that I have lost or put on weight. 
  • I want to educate people on how feminism stands up for women in the 3rd world who are not as lucky as us. Women who still can’t vote, can’t show their skin, are forced into arranged marriages often with violent men many years older than them, women who are not allowed an education or who are mutilated, murdered and raped. They need feminism even more than you and I. 
  • I want to promote gender equality and the idea that if genders were equal there would be no necessity for this pathetic and pointless competition that is battling out on social media. I want to promote body confidence whether you are male or female or a person with gender dysphoria. 

I’d love to hear people’s views on what feminism means to them so please get involved and let’s share the love and the fight for a better and most importantly equal future! 

30 day writing challenge – day 6 – someone you admire and why. 

There are May people I admire. I could name hundreds from family members to celebrities and famous figures from the past. The person I’ve chose though is Caitlin Moran. I have written about Caitlin before or namely her book ‘How to be a Woman’. So why do I admire Caitlin? 

Caitlin is the sort of woman I aspire to be. Passionate about the things she believes in. Open about her past and present without feelings of shame or embarrassment. She is openly, brazenly and wonderfully a feminist. She stands up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to discuss topics that are usually off limits like growing her pubic hair or the in depth details of childbirth. 

She is admirable because she is funny, she speaks her mind and isn’t afraid to be everything a feminist should be. Caitlin is everything that all women should be. 

Can you ever be a ‘perfect’ feminist? 

I watched a short video the other day which unfortunately I can’t remember where I saw it in order to reference! Anyway the video was about being a ‘bad’ feminist and was basically a run through of reasons you might think yourself unable to be a feminist. Some were silly reasons like am I a bad feminist if I shave my legs/do I have to be nice to people I don’t like just because they’re women etc. 

The video got me thinking about my own life as a feminist and what feminism means to me. As a feminist I believe in having equal rights to men. Being paid the same money to do the same job etc but when I really delve into my psyche I do think that in some ways I could be a bad feminist. 

  • I shave my legs not because I particularly want to but because I do conform to a beauty standard set by others and don’t think my boyfriend would like it if I went round with legs and armpits hairier than his. Neither do I want to be stared at in the street for it
  • I do like it when men hold doors open for me and I appreciate it when someone buys me a drink 
  • I expect my boyfriend to pay for things sometimes

But then the more I evaluated those choices the more I thought about them rationally. My boyfriend earns more money than me and if it was the other way round I wouldn’t mind being the one to pay for the meal or buy him some drinks. Yes I conform to the beauty standard but i don’t judge women who don’t and I respect their choices. I think that is what feminism is about after all it’s the choice to do what you want with your body and damn the consequences of what other people think. We will always be judged for something irregardless of if we are men or women. Whether it’s for tattoos, piercings, body modifications, jobs, home life or earnings. Inevitably what feminism is about is if your not going to judge the guy who shaves his armpits why are you judging the woman who doesn’t? 

(And a little door opening for someone is manners after all :p)