Full Frontal Feminism is a book written by Jessica Valenti explaining what modern feminism is, its relevance, and why it is necessary. Using inspiring examples, humor, and emotional language, Valenti tries to convince women that feminism is a powerful tool that not only empowers them to decide for themselves, but also makes them feel good about themselves. Her stance on feminism is seen in her statement when she says, “It’s a positive, life-changing, fun, and cool way to live your life; one that presupposes that you are worth more than your ability to please guys” (246). The various issues discussed in the book include feminism history, reproductive rights, domestic abuse, injustice in the labor market, body image, female sexuality etc. In addition, Valenti also talks about women as machines for making babies, marriage, dating, and unmarried women who are denied birth control by pharmacists among other issues. In general, this book is very interesting, readable and informative not only to women but also every person who is affiliated with feminism.
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Full Frontal Feminism is easy to read and is written in a very conversational style thus making the book very interesting. Her arguments are rational and well researched; however, her constant use of confrontational and insulting language together with frequent exaggerations tends to weaken her points. Her points are very blunt and straightforward with no apologies. For instance, she does not shy away from mentioning that some past women’s rights activists were racists who fought mostly for the rights of white women from the upper middle class (69). Being an activist, she does not also bore the reader with a lot of theory, but presents her facts directly; making this book a good read for people interested in feminism but find reading theories a daunting task.
I disagree with the “conscious clause laws” discussed in Valenti (86-87), which allows healthcare professionals not to dispense medication if it is against their religion, morals etc. She says that this law may lead to nurses not to treat gay patients because it against their religion. While the law may be interpreted to allow this to happen, not dispensing medication does not logically lead to nurses not treating patients. She talks about unmarried women who are denied birth control by “nutties” such as pharmacists. I think her attack on pharmacists is not only uncalled for and insulting, but also weakens her arguments. As a pharmacist in the making, I get distracted by her insults and the way she argues her points, instead of listening to her arguments.
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While I understand that Valenti’s aim is to reach out to those young ladies who shy away from feminism, the way she presents her arguments is not right in my opinion. Even though she has very good points about feminism, I think she is trying to make it look sexy in order to appeal to young women and girls for instance, Chapter 2, where she talks about feminism leading to a better sex. In her opening statement of the chapter she says, “I’m better in bed than you are. And I have feminism to thank for it” (78). I totally agree that feminists have greater sex, but I think she was better off discussing other more important issues about feminism than just having great sex because of being a feminist. Every woman enjoys great sex, but it should not be the basis of being a feminist. In my opinion, the way to persuade women to have interest in feminism is by honestly tackling the issues women face in the society and not by making it sexy. I think women choose to be feminists because of the numerous things that are against women in the society. Real feminism advocate for the overall rights of women in the society not just great sex.
Another important point to note is Valenti’s choice not to elaborate on some vital issues. For instance, when she talks about emergency contraception, she explains that contrary to popular belief, emergency contraceptives do not cause abortions, which I agree with (88). She states that emergency pills only prevent ovulation, fertilization, or implantation. She however does not talk about the fact that life starts at fertilization, and if the fertilized egg is prevented from being implanted into the uterus and expelled from the body, a life is killed. Emergency contraception being a sensitive issue, it would have been better if she presented both sides of the argument. In general, Valenti’s book is both an eye-opener and an interesting book to read that I recommend for anyone interested in feminism.