Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: F'em: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls

Jennifer Baumgardner's latest, F'em!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls leaves a lot to be desired, least of all the title, which hardly applies to any essay in the collection at all. The book is a mix of interviews with some of the biggest names in the feminist community, including Ani Difranco, Loretta Ross and Julia Serano, along with personal essays about Baumgardner's own life and perspective.

But in out of the eight interviews in the book, there are only three women of color. In the interview with Debbie Stoller, she states that
     "trying to struggle for feminism, just feminism, is almost impossible, because of all these other causes that get placed in front. If you look at the democratic convention from the 1970's, when women agitated for equal rights, then the feminist cause became the lesbian cause...When we are talking about gay people's right to marry, we don't also start talking about women's position in marriages and independence and yada yada yada. When racism is in the news, people don't also start talking about women's rights."

Can I just a moment to publicly say what the fuck? The white and hetero privilege in that statement; truly throughout her entire interview (she also complains that working long hours, even if you love what you do is awful and that "stay-at-home parents need to contribute something to the picture") is disgusting. Stoller is the founder of Bust and I'm honestly content to never pick up another issue if these are in fact her true feelings. Obviously, she says more in the interview, but this two main statements were extremely upsetting and frustrating to me as a feminist who believes that intersectionality is key and vital to the feminist movement.

Jennifer Baumgardner has contributed a lot to the feminist movement, but which one? Her books are geared toward a white women's viewpoint, which is undoubtedly why I did enjoy some of the essays in the book: I was the target audience. The book mainly touches on pregnancy (both of hers), children and abortion. I don't begrudge her topics, she is writing what she knows and what she worked for as an activist, which includes her I Had an Abortion project. I just found it difficult to connect with her writing, knowing that she could go so much deeper and touch on topics that aren't broadcast in the way others are. She is similar to Jessica Valenti in that nature, because they are both white women, they have significant power in what their messages about feminism are and they fall short by skimming the surface.

(Photo credit: Book Depository)

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