Hot Feminist – Polly Vernon
I really wanted to start reading more about topics that interest me, like gender politics and feminism. Especially because I consider myself a feminist, but very rarely read academic or non fiction texts about feminism. Also because declaring that you’re a feminist on the internet scares the crap out of me, so I would like to be able to get to a point where I am so well read on the subject that I can do it with confidence and take down all the fools who dare question it. Because if you believe that feminism is a hatred of men rather than a vision of equality for everyone no matter what your gender is (which extends to those of many, non specific and transgenders as well as people of multiple races and creeds) then you probably are a bit of a fool. So, I grabbed this when I saw it advertised on bookbridgr (thanks guys for sending it to me) it’s just a shame that this wasn’t the feminist experience I was looking for.
Hot (adj.) : (Of a person) Attractive ‘a hot chick’
Fem-i-n-ist (n.) : A person who supports feminism, the movement that advocates equal rights for women
Polly Vernon, Grazia columnist, Times feature writer (hair-flicker, Brazilian-waxer, jeans obsessive, outrageous flirt) presents a brave new perspective on feminism.
Drawing on her dedicated, life-long pursuit of hotness – having dismissed many of the rules on ‘good’ feminism at some point in the early 90s – she’ll teach you everything you ever wanted to know about being a feminist when you care about how you look. When part of your brain is constantly monologuing on fashion. When you check out your own reflection in every reflective surface. When your depilation practices are pretty much out of control. When you just really want to be fancied.
Hot Feminist is based on a principle of non-judgment (because there’s enough already), honesty about how often we mess this up, and empowerment through looks. Part memoir, part road map, it’s a rolling, raucous rejection of all those things we’re convinced we shouldn’t think / wear/ feel/ say/ buy/ want – and a celebration of all the things we can.
It is modern feminism, with style, without judgment.
Is it modern feminism though? Because like, I always understood that feminism meant equality for all genders and that the point of it was to stop the disrespect associated with ‘feminine’ traits etc. I didn’t realise that people actually found it difficult to enjoy femininity and also be a feminist. Like, if you’re into make up, wear it. Who gives a crap? Are you a guy? Are you a girl? Are you another gender entirely? You think eyeliner makes your eyes poppin’ and you want them to look hella good while also being a pro at your job and stuff – you go for it. Here’s an example in the form of a story. A little while ago the band Twenty One Pilots performed on TV, one of them, Tyler, wore a long coat and a pair of shorts. At the end of the performance, Sacha Baron Cohen, who was in character to promote his film, Grimsby (for those that don’t know, he rarely appears at anything as his actual self) criticised Tyler for wearing a dress. People laughed. Yes, it was a joke, all done in jest presumably showing that Sacha Baron Cohen is actually taking the piss out of ignorant people, either way, the fact that someone identifying as a man apparently wearing a dress is funny in any way is exactly why we all need feminism, its not just about women. Apparently though, the idea of enjoying femininity whilst being a feminist is something that troubles Polly Vernon as this entire book is basically her very patronisingly explaining that she likes men, high heels and red lipstick, but she also cares about equality. Like… yeah, fine, but there are many more wider issues that can be discussed here.
Its a shame that the book’s content is so infuriating, because Polly is actually a very witty and engaging writer, even if she does come across as being a little self absorbed at times. To me, this book was just very oversimplified and didn’t really grasp any of the main concepts of feminism and what the movement is striving for as far as I understand it. Yes, it is important that people feel that they can aspire to be conventionally attractive and still care about feminism, but did this idea really need to go on for 364 pages?
There is a major issue with people tearing other people (mostly women) down for wanting to look pretty and trying to attract the attention of men, to me, anyone who claims to be a feminist whilst judging others for the way they live their lives, is someone who does not understand feminism. We should be supporting each other, not tearing each other down, so I do think books like this spread an important message because Polly does explain that feminism isn’t about hating men, or hating girls who want to pretty themselves up for the men in their lives – good, this is something that most feminist texts I’ve read seem to forget. For me, it’s just a shame there isn’t really much else in the book. I came out of it just really wanting there to be more discussion and more topics that come under the umbrella of feminism. A lot of the book read like an issue of Cosmo, there were lots of fashion tips and things like that, which is fine, but I wanted so much more.
I just think being part of the tumblr generation and being into non judgemental equality, (I am one of those annoying people that gives themselves anxiety because they check their privilege at like every single moment of the day) many of the things that Polly was saying weren’t new or revolutionary to me, because seriously, you can dress however you want and behave however you want without judgement. As long as you aren’t breaking the law or causing actual physical harm to other people, you do you. You identify as male and want to wear a dress, you rock the hell out of it, you identify as female and you want to wear make up but also talk about astrophysics, go for it. You identify as a different gender and want to incorporate traits of both in the way you dress, then you do it and you like fly as hell. That to me is sort of the point of feminism. Not judging people or treating them any more or less than anyone else.
Regardless, if you like fashion, lifestyle books and Cailtin Moran style prose, then check this out, just don’t go looking for serious discussions on feminism because you won’t find it here.