BEHIND THE NETRA BOOK REVIEW - I met Laura Bates last year when we were both performing at the EMPOWER HOUSE show at the Theatre Royal. I already thought she was phenomenal after reading ‘Everyday Sexism’ and seeing her talk at the show. And now that I have finally had a chance to finish reading ‘Girl Up,’ I have nothing but more praise for this woman. I could only wish that I had a book like this as a teenager and I could give it to all my students. She has highlighted all the important life lessons that young people should be taught (and are so often not), about consent, self-pleasure, unrealistic beauty standards and the importance and empowerment behind feminism. The text was inclusive of nearly all on the gender and sexuality spectrums and she was refreshingly honest and witty in her approach. She has entertainingly weaved opinions, statistics and real life examples throughout the book. I would love to see more intersectionality within her writing but perhaps this wasn’t quite the audience for it. It is definitely aimed at more of a teenage audience but it is still a must read for anyone who is raising / teaching / being a girl or for anyone that needs to be better informed on gender issues here in the UK. If you haven’t read ‘Everyday Sexism’ – go read that first - then get on this one! It’s an unapologetic feminist voice that needs to be heard. Laura will be talking about ‘Girl Up’ as a part of the British Academy's season on Inequalities later this year. Check it out!
Behind the Netra Book Review - I finally got around to finishing Naomi Wolf's 'Vagina - A New Biography.' Firstly, don't let the title scare you into hiding. Wolf shares her personal journey in an attempt to analyse the intersectionality between sexuality and creativity. Much of her findings are backed with a range of interesting scientific evidence that suggests that the vagina is not merely flesh, but an intrinsic component of the female brain—and thus has a fundamental connection to female consciousness itself. As much as I loved Wolf's infamous 'Beauty Myth' back when I was a teenager, this text was sadly a bit of a let down. The book claims to be tackling a social taboo that is the Vagina but I feel that Eve Ensler dealt with it much better in the Vagina Monologues two decades ago. The book hardly liberates women, I feel it gives public intellectuals a legitimate reason to have a good laugh at female genitalia and makes a parody of mainstream feminist debate. I'd put it under the collection of celebrity faux-feminism that aims to titillate and make sales but does nothing for feminist debate. I'd still recommend to read it if you're up for some interesting analogies and wordplay but if you're really interested in important issues of sex, power and suffering then have a look at Butler, Banerji or Valenti.