Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide To Why Feminism Matters
by Jessica Valenti
- Pages: 256
- ISBN: 1580052010
- Link: Goodreads
- Format: Paperback
- Published on: March 27th 2007
- Published by: Seal Press
How many times have you heard a girl or young woman say something along the lines of “I’m not a feminist, but…” Feminism today gets a bad wrap: backlash culture tells us that feminism is either dead or that it only draws hairy, man hating lesbians. Enter Jessica Valenti, who supposedly wants to dispel myths about feminism and explain what feminism is really about. Unfortunately, the Feministing founder fails in Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide To Why Feminism Matters. Others have already pointed out the problems with Valenti’s work in Full Frontal Feminism and have already done so more eloquently than I’m going to be able to (if you’re on Goodreads, two good examples are reviews written by Mandy Van Deven of Elevate Difference and Ciara Xyerra).
Instead of explaining her ideas in depth or expanding upon existing ones, Valenti merely skims the surface of many issues. Quite often, it will start to sound like she’s about to make an interesting point, but instead end the thought with something like “yeah”, “terrifying”, or “puke”. I can understand wanting to keep things short and sweet when you’re writing a blog post*, but if you can’t explain your position in your book, you have some pretty serious problems. Among other things, being unable to explain your opinions makes it seem as though your opinions are very shallow and not very well thought out.
Furthermore, Valenti’s discussion of the generational divide comes off as very bratty and self-serving. It sounded like she was trying to say “ignore those pesky older feminists and give me the book deals because I’m the face of the future!” I found this very obnoxious.
Look, I understand that in Full Frontal Feminism, Valenti was trying to make feminism seem less academic and more fun/accessible to the younger crowd. However, I think there are less annoying and obnoxious ways of going about the task. Constant use of “pshaw” might be cute to some, but for me it got really grating really fast.
I should acknowledge that I’m probably not Valenti’s target audience for Full Frontal Feminism. While I consider myself to be a young woman (I’m in my 20s, after all), I’ve identified as a feminist for some time. As such, I wasn’t completely clueless about feminism going into this book. In fact, none of the information in this book was new to me. While I understand that I’m not the young woman Valenti was trying to address in Full Frontal Feminism, I’d argue that Valenti doesn’t cover any new ground here at all and that maybe she should leave the writing up to folks who can write better. So I’m sure some of my frustration stems from the fact that Valenti hasn’t managed to bring anything new to the table with Full Frontal Feminism. Ultimately, I felt that Full Frontal Feminism was completely unnecessary.
*This statement is based more on personal experience than anything else. I personally have a hard time reading lengthy bodies of text on a computer screen; if a blog post gets too long, I’m likely to end up skimming or skipping the post all together.