Full Frontal Feminism

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Women’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

Jessica Valenti

ISBN 978-1-58005-201-6

Seal Press


Review by Sophie b Watson, 2004

So many women start sentences with, “I’m no feminist, but….”. After all who wants to be a rabid, men-hating, bra-burning, hairy-legged militant? (Not that any of us have ever actually seen such a creature.) However, most women obviously do want equal rights, equal pay, control over our reproductive  rights, healthy sex education, more women in leadership positions, affordable childcare, an end to the increasingly normalised violence against women, and to be more than mere lusty objects for male consumption. Some people feel feminism has served its purpose but as Jessica Valenti outlines in her new book: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Women’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters there’s no time to rest on the laurels’ of previous generations.

The founder of feministing.com Valenti offers a strong primer to young women who she feels are feminists but just don’t want to identify themselves as such because it’s not perceived as cool and it might make them unpopular with men. Valenti’s self-described love letter to feminism aims to re-coolify it with her straight-talking, fact-giving, sassy manifesto. One bonus of being a feminist according to Valenti is that feminists have better sex. Unchaining oneself from the tyranny of the beauty myth can lead to a gloriously, un-self-conscious, authentic and celebratory sexual life.

What’s most impressive about the book is the amount of information Valenti provides about women’s rights throughout the US citing examples of states where unmarried common law couples do not have the same rights regarding domestic violence as married couples do, and other states where raping your wife is not considered illegal, and how under current legislation pharmacists are actually allowed to deny unmarried women birth control. Valenti delves far and wide into the exciting counterculture and highlights grass roots feminist activism like the group who, to counter Maxim magazine’s notorious annual top 100 hot women list, came up with an alternate top 100 list of women who are ranked for their achievements, rather than bodies.

The tone of the book can be a bit soundbitey, but overall it’s exciting to see a young edgy voice reaching out to other young women to tell them they are far more than what society tells them they are, urging them to believe in themselves as humans, not just female objects. It’s a hard job and sometimes she swears like a truck driver. I would highly recommend it for any young woman looking for the straight story on feminism and some healthy sex education.

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