Feminism is about equality, right? But for whom? Mikki Kendall unpacks the reasons why feminism has become a movement which instead of focusing on helping all women have their basic needs met is focused on white women gaining equality alongside white men and forgetting marginalized communities along the way. And quite frankly she is right; “As debates over last names, body hair, and the best way to be a CEO have taken center stage in the discourse surrounding modern feminism, it’s not difficult to see why some would be questioning the legitimacy of a women’s movement that serves only the narrow interests of middle- and upper-class white women.”
Comprising of eighteen essays with titles like ‘Solidarity Is Still for White Women’, ‘It’s Raining Patriarchy’ and ‘The Fetishization of Fierce’ Kendall is constantly examining the lack of equality in feminism through an expanse of topics not typically thought of as feminist issues like gun violence, domestic abuse, hunger, housing, toxic masculinity, and gentrification all through deeply personal and moving accounts of Kendall’s own life explaining why in fact these are feminist issues “for women who are struggling to keep themselves housed, fed, and clothed, it’s not a question of working hard enough. They are leaning in, but not in search of equal pay or “having it all”; their quest for equal pay starts with equal access to education and opportunity. They need feminism to recognize that everything that affects women is a feminist issue, whether it be food insecurity or access to transit, schools, or a living wage.”
If you consider yourself a feminist, at all, then this book is for you. This is at times an uncomfortable read as it’ll be sure to challenge your thinking, but it’ll also have you yelling ‘YES!’ to the bigger picture and (hopefully) coming to the realisation that what felt like a topic worthy of a heated debate with your mates boyfriend at the dinner table (possibly why we haven’t been invited out for a while…) wasn’t one that will benefit all (even if he was being an asshole), so get out of your own personal feminist bubble and like Kendall says “the most realistic approach to solidarity is one that assumes that sometimes it simply isn’t your turn to be the focus of the conversation.”
Importantly Kendall’s writing style is accessible meaning you wont get lost down a wormhole of academia you don’t understand. However Kendall is an American author and this book is very Americanised in so keep your trusty mate Google at the ready for any terminology that just doesn’t quite make sense. That being said these theories are easily translatable to marginalised communities here in New Zealand or abroad.
I could try and write an inspiring sign off to this review urging you all read this book immediately but turns out I don’t need to, the quote on the cover from Elizabeth Gilbert does it all for me “My wish is that every white woman who calls herself a feminist will read this book.”