Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

Let’s get the feminist party started!Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It’s packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, politician Wen...

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Title:Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World
Author:Kelly Jensen
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:240 pages

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Reviews

  • Courtney
    Mar 27, 2015

    I am so very excited to have an essay (!) in this anthology and am honored to be in the company of so many amazing contributors. I can't wait to share more about it closer to pub, and in the mean time, if it sounds like your thing, I hope you'll add it to your To-Read list! :D

  • Kelly
    Jul 01, 2015

    This book now belongs to every person who needs it & who deserves it. Keep fighting the good fight.

    A couple nice pieces *about* the book --

    An interview with me about editing and about the awesome power of teenagers at Teen Vogue:

    A look at the book from Kayla Whaley, one of the contributors, and what "feminism" is and means:

  • Ben Babcock
    Jan 13, 2017

    I suppose I should start with one of those disclaimers about how I received a free electronic copy of this from NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers. However, I also preordered

    hard copies with my own money (OK, someone else’s money in gift card form) even before that request was approved. But why wait a whole three weeks when I could read it earlier than that?

    how excited I am for

    . It turns out that this

    I suppose I should start with one of those disclaimers about how I received a free electronic copy of this from NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers. However, I also preordered

    hard copies with my own money (OK, someone else’s money in gift card form) even before that request was approved. But why wait a whole three weeks when I could read it earlier than that?

    how excited I am for

    . It turns out that this book is everything I wanted, and more.

    I really like this trend of telling me how many contributors there are in the title of the work, because it saves me from having to count. Suffice it to say, I’m not going to review each piece individually. I

    point out that Kelly Jensen has clearly made the effort to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible in this book.

    features pieces from white women, Black women, Indigenous women, trans men and trans women, straight women, gay women, and even that rarest of breeds, yes, the straight white male. The contributors are of various ages, professions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Indeed, pretty much the only thing that unites all of them is that they are in this book, and they identify as feminist.

    Readers won’t see themselves in every contributor and every piece in

    . And that’s kind of the point. The essays and other pieces in this collection seek to give advice, sure. Beyond this, though, they simply

    . Readers won’t see themselves in every contributor, but they will hopefully identify with

    of the contributors. And they will get a chance to hear from voices whose experiences are very different from their own. For example, Constance Augusta Zaber’s “Dragging Myself into Self-Love” would surely resonate with many boys:

    (Emphasis mine.) Although I perform gender in a fairly standard, masculine way, I definitely understand where Zaber is coming from and can identify with chafing at some of the restrictions placed upon people who perform gender as male. For boys who are considering that they might be trans or nonbinary or agender or simply prefer more fashion choices, this is an essay that tells them they are not alone. For the girls who are the primary target audience of

    , it’s a glimpse into how feminist thought and action benefits all people, regardless of gender.

    is unequivocal in its inclusiveness:

    (Yeah, a little asexual representation there. Not a whole lot, unfortunately, but a little. Also, in case you’re reading this and wondering: yes, there really are feminism parties. They are every second Thursday, and like the dark side, we have cookies, although we don’t have imperialist oppression of entire planetary systems.)

    Mikki Kendall also puts it very well in her essay, “Facets of Feminism”, when she says, “A feminism that is exclusionary, that makes objects out of some women and saviors out of others, is implicitly harmful.… An inclusive feminism is a more effective feminism.” And earlier in this chapter, the book reminds us that liking problematic media doesn’t disqualify you as a feminist either, that “it’s from these problematic representations that great feminist dialogue emerges”, and then cites one of my favourite problematic shows,

    . This is a salient point to remember in an age that bombards us with media representation that is often simultaneously problematic and entertaining, and I appreciate that

    takes the time to counter the myth that feminism means hating men, hating yourself, or indeed, hating everything—it does not.

    The word

    is certainly more in the popular mind than it was when I was a teenager in the early noughties. My adolescence straddled the divide between pre- and post-social media, as well as pre- and post-smartphone; in Grade 8 it was all about the LiveJournal and the GeoCities, and by the time I was graduating high school Facebook had thrown open its doors to the general public and the iPhone had just heralded the beginning of the smartphone era. In this environment, feminism was something we didn’t really discuss too much as teenagers. I ran with a pretty smart group of kids (after my first high school closed in Grade 10, I took to eating lunch in the band wing with the “band geeks”, despite my lack of musical talent, because lots of them were from my old school and it seemed preferable to the noisy cafeteria). We were reasonably enlightened, I’d like to say, and we talked about these kinds of issues. But textbooks and theories and that kind of academic rigour were not yet on the horizon, so we didn’t always have the

    required to grapple with them.

    This book is much more accessible. It covers pretty much everything and anything related to feminism to one degree or another. I appreciate that it has separate chapters on

    and

    , since these are very different but often conflated concepts. I like that it has a combination of personal essays, reprinted essays, interviews, comics and drawings, and lists. The “scrapbook style” book is not a form I want to read all the time, but I acknowledge its appeal. As an adult and a professional and (gasp) an intellectual, I can read all the academic theory books about feminism that I want. I can’t really put those into the hands of teenagers, however, and expect them to have the same eye-opening experiences that I do. Instead,

    is a book with ideas, stories, and advice they can take an act on immediately.

    Even as feminism becomes more popular, it also becomes a commodity. Corporations are happy to co-opt feminist slogans and terminology if it means they can

    feminism. “Buy this thing to make you more feminist!” “Buy this thing to support our feminist initiatives!” Buy, buy, buy. “Buy this to learn the ultimate secret to feminism…” Except there is no secret. There is no one, right way to be feminist. There is no feminist checklist that, if followed, will make you the perfect, unprivileged, unbiased, feminist person.

    OK, I lied. There is a secret. Do you want to know what it is?

    Most young people

    feminists.

    They might not know it, and if they know it, they might not readily admit to it (because that can come with a social cost they are unwilling to pay). But young people, by and large, believe in their own empowerment. They believe in equality for all genders. They don’t understand what the fuss is about if you love someone of the same gender—or if you don’t fall in love at all. The stories we see in the news about proms being shut down because a girl wants to bring another girl, or wear a tuxedo, or wears a dress that is too short—it’s not other teens shutting down these events, creating this fuss. It’s the adults who are unwilling to open their minds and change their views. I can’t remember who said this, but young people are always on the winning side of history.

    embraces this youth power and energy rather than talking down to it. It sees the feminist, good and bad and hidden and out, in everyone and speaks to them. It’s a little bit Oprah, I guess: “You can be feminist! And you can be feminist! And

    can be feminist!”, but I don’t see this as a bad thing. The worst thing we, adult progressives and feminists and allies, can do at this point is to ignore, condescend, or silence young people trying to speak up, learn about, and claim a feminist identity.

    is a book for youth that is proudly, loudly feminist and tells young people that they can shout about (or not, as they choose) being feminist too. I think that’s pretty cool.

  • Amanda
    Oct 15, 2015

    intersectional.

    unapologetic.

    educational.

    feminist-as-fuck.

    going-to-make-some-men-very-angry-and-how-great-is-that?

  • Mari Yeung
    Jan 05, 2016

    THIS SOUNDS AWESOME.

    LOOK AT THAT COVER.

    I would have preferred an entire new book by Courtney Summers, but this will do :)

    I can't wait!

  • Jacquelyn
    Jan 30, 2017

    This was a really great collection of stories/writing pieces that was extremely inspiring, eye-opening, and vital to this day in society. I thought that the different pieces and authors were all so interesting and educational. I learned a lot about feminism in general but also about intersectional feminism and what it does and does not mean to call yourself a feminist. There were a lot of diverse authors and topics discussed in this book and I loved seeing feminism discussed by people of all dif

    This was a really great collection of stories/writing pieces that was extremely inspiring, eye-opening, and vital to this day in society. I thought that the different pieces and authors were all so interesting and educational. I learned a lot about feminism in general but also about intersectional feminism and what it does and does not mean to call yourself a feminist. There were a lot of diverse authors and topics discussed in this book and I loved seeing feminism discussed by people of all different religions, ethnicities, races, genders, etc. I'd really recommend this book; it's very creative and relative to today's societal issues and discussions.

  • Lala BooksandLala
    Nov 02, 2016

    Fantastic. Diverse. Thoughtful.

  • Emily May
    Jan 12, 2017

    . I am 100% going to get my hands on a finished copy so I can dive back into this book whenever I need it (which is probably a lot).

    It is perhaps never possible to adequately collect enough perspectives to present all aspects of feminism in its entirety,

    .

    covers a wide range of intersectional feminist topics, featuring authors of all colours, races and religions, gay and trans authors, authors

    . I am 100% going to get my hands on a finished copy so I can dive back into this book whenever I need it (which is probably a lot).

    It is perhaps never possible to adequately collect enough perspectives to present all aspects of feminism in its entirety,

    .

    covers a wide range of intersectional feminist topics, featuring authors of all colours, races and religions, gay and trans authors, authors of all shapes and sizes, those with physical and mental disabilities, as well as the able-bodied. It is a truly fantastic work that deserves to be read and celebrated by all.

    When reviewing collections, I tend to either post a short review for each piece - if the book has only a small number of authors (which this doesn't) - or highlight the standout pieces - if the book has a long list of authors (which this does). But I just can't do that here. Who do I single out in a collection about the importance of a vast array of voices? So I'm going to briefly mention them all. Bear with me.

    I feel quite emotional thinking back over all the wonders this book has to offer. From Malinda Lo's opening piece about her youth and feminist influences, which sets the tone for the rest of the work with this rousing speech:

    Followed by Suzannah Weiss' informative history of the word "Feminism", Kody Keplinger's feminist playlist, a powerful excerpt from Roxane Gay's

    (which is incredible and should be read in full), and musings on different types of privilege from a "straight white man"- Matt Nathanson. This concludes the first and introductory section.

    The second section is "Body & Mind", featuring Anne Theriault's moving (and, for me, relatable) story about her mental illness; then Anfie Manfredi's proud reclaiming of her own body and the word "fat", Alida Nugent's thought-provoking discussion of white beauty standards and growing up with Puerto Rican features, Liz Prince's (author of

    ) graphic story about overcoming her own internalized misogyny, and Lily Myers' thoughts on her obsession with food and dieting. This section ends with Constance Augusta Zaber's wonderful piece about female image as a trans woman.

    "Sex & Sexuality" opens with Courtney Summers talking about the demand for females and female characters to be "likable", not mixed-up, damaged human beings.

    Kayla Whaley's letter to her younger self comes next - a painful, beautiful, uplifting addition about her physical disability. Then Rafe Posey discusses being a trans man and a feminist, considering how allowing someone to define their own gender identity is a key component of feminism:

    Then there is Amandla Stenberg's instagram post about how female black lives also matter, Tricia Romano's interview with Laverne Cox (the first trans person to appear on the cover of TIME, Sophia from

    , and just an all-round incredible person), and Mia & Michaela Deprince's shared piece about women in Sierra Leone and other poor regions - Michaela focuses specifically on FGM, and Mia talks about the use of rape as a weapon.

    In "Pop Culture", Zariya Allen opens with an extremely powerful poem called "Somewhere in America", about the lessons being taught to American kids about race, class, and sexual assault. Brenna Clarke Gray discusses fandom and fanfiction, particularly slash and queer representation. Mikki Kendall talks about the different facets of feminism that make up intersectionality and the need for marginalized representation in pop culture. Brandy Colbert lists real life friendships between black women. Amandla Stenberg makes another appearance with a video transcript where she addresses cultural appropriation. Then Kelly Jensen interviews Laurie Halse Anderson and Courtney Summers about sexual violence and speaking up.

    "Relationships" sees Sarah McCarry talk about girlhood, growing up and her own hatred of girls - McCarry also lists great girl friendships in fiction, followed by Wendy Xu's graphic story on the fetishization of Asian women by white men. Then Siobhan Vivian's deeply personal and moving letter to her teen self about losing her virginity, and Kaye Mirza adds her unapologetic Muslim feminist perspective to the mix, challenging assumptions made about wearing the hijab.

    Brandy Colbert returns to talk about "sisterhood" - the importance of black female friendships, and Jessica Luther discusses what it means to have a heterosexual feminist relationship.

    In "Confidence & Ambition", Ashley Hope Perez talks "breaking the nice girl commandments", Lily Myers' returns with a free verse poem - "Shrinking Women" - about the ways women make space for men (and shouldn't), Erika Y. Wurth offers her perspective on growing up as a Native American girl by writing a letter to her teen self, and Shveta Thakrar writes an evocative piece about self-harm and anxiety. Former Texas senator, Wendy Davis, tells us to fight for our dreams but also own our failures and don't let them define us.

    And, finally, "Go Your Own Way". In this section, Daniel José Older opens with a lyrical musing about the many journeys to feminism, the many stories being told, the many different forms of oppression and privilege. Nova Ren Suma follows with a personal story that was equal parts enraging and inspiring (her experiences with an all-male syllabus and sexist teacher made my blood boil). Brenna Clarke Grey offers a list of comics by women, about women. Kody Keplinger talks personal choices and deciding not to have kids. Allison Peyton Steger & Rebecca Sexton add a humourous illustrated guide to becoming a superheroine. Mindy Kaling urges us not to worry if we're not popular and having crazy, exciting times in high school - the quiet, studious individuals have all the good times to look forward to after.

    Kelly Jensen closes this collection with a thoughtful essay about embracing her own "quiet feminism". Not all of us are the banner-waving, shouting type of feminists; not all of us have that kind of personality, but that doesn't mean our own quiet forms of feminist expression are any less important.

    Also a special mention to the art contributors:

    "Bad Hair Day" by Stasia Burrington

    "Judgements" by Pomona Lake

    "Drawing for Inspiration" by Michelle Hiraishi

    "Opportunity" by Risa Rodil

    "That’s What She Became" by Jen Talley

    "Intersectional Rosie the Riveter" by Tyler Feder

    In the end, this is just a really really great book. It's

    . With graphic stories, illustrations, playlists and reading lists, this book is both important AND an absolute pleasure to read.

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  • April (Aprilius Maximus)
    Nov 13, 2016

    Review coming soon!

  • Fatma
    Jan 31, 2017

    I need to get my hands on this ASAP.