Hot feminist

Browsing The Guardian today wondering what Cameron’s (prime minister of some small islands off Europe) latest cock-ups were, I found Polly Vernon’s piece in the Books section about her book, Hot Feminist, and horrors! the criticism it received. Or rather, she received too.

I knew Hot Feminist would prove contentious when I wrote it. I didn’t write it for shock value alone; or even at all. Why did I write it? To present my version of feminism: wayward, ideologically impure, politically incorrect, un-academic, flawed to hell – and no less passionately held for all that. To ease any potential readers’ feminist guilt by exposing myself as more slapdash than they; to make a case for an ultimately inclusive movement, via the example of my own haphazard, clothes-, looks- and man-oriented adventures in feminism.

I wanted to address feminism as a fashion writer, as someone deeply involved in that complicated, sometimes compromised world, with its myriad messages about women: who we should be, how we should look. I wanted to talk about feminism and sexiness; about how I don’t always mind being objectified by the male gaze, and how I am more than capable of objectifying back. I wanted to talk about my life, my experiences. Hot Feminist is a memoir. I believe a book that incorporates extensive fashion tips, alongside one woman’s experiences of abortion and of violent sexual assault, might make a point about the light and shade of the modern female’s life.

Apparently Hot Feminism received a ‘sustained barrage of hate … on Twitter and elsewhere‘. And, many of these people hadn’t even read the book, merely the negative reviews. (There was a positive review from the Daily Telegraph, which may indicate something in itself.)

So, over I popped to Amazon for a Look Inside.

      Hot Feminism
      Modern feminism
      With style
      Without judgement
      Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2015.

Here we have the intro:

Intro

Intro

Here we have how the name came to be decided upon: because it’s porny.

It's porny :)

It’s porny 🙂


And here we have Feminist Fatigue. At this point I was reminded of violetwisp’s musings about feminism. Maybe violet would like this book if she hasn’t already read it.

Vernon pays tribute to the feminists of the sixties and then goes on to dismiss that old-fashioned tosh. What’s needed is feminism for today. Fashion! Make-up! Diets! Being objectified! Because today’s woman is so independent she can objectify and ogle right back. Jeez. Is that what feminists in the 60s onwards fought for?

Also – feminism is what you want it to be. And you decide whether or not you are a feminist. By which token you could claim to be a devout feminist if you are a fundagelical, support no contraception, no abortion, and a woman’s place is clearly in the home, tripping over 13 children.

Vernon says journalism is her trade. Well, far be it from me to pick holes, but you haven’t got trade papers have you? You might work in journalism, you might be a journalist, but if you haven’t got shorthand then you haven’t qualified.

I can't even do shorthand

I can’t even do shorthand

A qualification isn’t essential to get a job in journalism, more like persistence and rhino hide. But still, it’s annoying to see someone claiming a trade and then smirking that they don’t even have shorthand.

The devil is no longer in the detail:

I say what I am; therefore I am.

While I’m on the subject, there is nothing worse than journalists, or anyone involved in publishing for their day job, producing errors in their books. Especially in the Amazon preview pages. As for Hodder and Stoughton, suggest you look for some new editors/proofreaders.

Another common fault journalists make is to write a full book (this is some 300+ pages) in the style of a short column on a newspaper/magazine article. A book is not the same. Unless you are John Pilger. (His books are good.)

So have I bought this book? Of course not. Based on the preview it looked vapid, superfluous, over used exclamation points and brackets, and was contradictory. Goodness knows what the whole book is like.

But really, who on earth would write a book called ‘Hot Feminist’ – complete with fashion tips – and expect to be taken seriously?

And this is today’s journalism and feminism …?

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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49 Responses to Hot feminist

  1. makagutu says:

    Maybe your former profession has been run down the drain.

    Like

  2. violetwisp says:

    I think that form of thinking makes me cringe – I’d have to read more to be sure. People have their own interpretation within specific areas but the overall goal is the same – equality of treatment for women. Of course we all have different ideas on how this can be achieved, or even what it would look like. I think it’s natural. Feminism is not a religion – there is no correct way to view things. We’re all just speculating about how to get there and what it would look like given some of the general differences between men and women (oooh, controversial!!)

    Like

    • I thought you would agree with her fluidity to be honest. And, you had written about being increasingly fed-up with what she terms Feminist Fatigue, which sounded like the same thing to your disillusionment, but hey, if I’m wrong fine.

      No, it’s not a religion. Just as atheism isn’t.

      I’ve no idea how Vernon wants to get anywhere. Seems to me she is like a bland Julie Birchill. Writes about not wanting babies and wearing pretty clothes. But, I’ve read very little of her writing. And of what I’ve seen so far, I’m unlikely to read more.

      Like

      • violetwisp says:

        I think I started off irritated that there was an attempt to sully ‘feminism’ but then realised that I’m starting to get negative connotations from the word – purely from subscribing to too many feminists site that are preaching a form of hatred against anyone not born with a vagina (and anyone who disagrees with them). I guess it’s like the passive notion that Christianity is about love and then subscribing to some evangelical sites. It’s not the whole picture but your sense of the group identity changes.

        As for this writer, the whole girly world passes me by to a great extent and I find chat about clothes etc to be really boring. But I think she may make (based on your summary) interesting points about objectification. I’m afraid I enjoy leering at handsome young men, and so find it difficult to analyse where the undoubtedly more problematic objectification of women sits within what is natural for sexual animals.

        Like

        • I think you are buying into the ‘feminists hate men’ propaganda by the sound of it. Oh, and ‘fems who don’t accept trans women’, obviously. You do mean both, yes? And not just trans women?

          Is there ever a group identity within any movement? There are always disagreements, whether socialism, environmentalism, or capitalism, for example. But the idea that feminism is whatever you want it to be is making a mockery of the progress that was made in the last century.

          I used to like clothes and loved dressmaking. But I had no interested in talking about it. Why? Just. Why?

          Ah yes. Of course. It’s natural to objectify. Biology huh? So, when you leer at young men, do you see them as mere sex objects and fantasise about having sex with them?

          Like

          • violetwisp says:

            “the idea that feminism is whatever you want it to be is making a mockery of the progress that was made in the last century.”
            I don’t agree. That’s the kind of statement that makes it sounds like a religion. It’s about equality – what equality looks like and how we get it are fluid works in progress. Our societies, our understanding of ourselves, and our innate biases are in a constant state of flux.

            “But I had no interested in talking about it. Why? Just.”
            Yes, exactly. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to our attitude towards clothes. They’re just clothes.

            “So, when you leer at young men, do you see them as mere sex objects and fantasise about having sex with them?”
            What a question! Without incriminating myself, isn’t that the nature of leering?

            Like

          • But surely, you are putting your perception of feminism first with that statement. To you it is about equality (for all). To others, it is about how they express themselves through empowerment.
            To others again, it is about getting rid of thousands of years of oppression.

            It’s about equality – what equality looks like and how we get it are fluid works in progress. Our societies, our understanding of ourselves, and our innate biases are in a constant state of flux.

            What was it you said to tildeb the other day?

            patronising, pseudo-intellectual waffle.

            And on objectification:

            Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals.

            The concept of sexual objectification and, in particular, the objectification of women, is an important idea in feminist theory and psychological theories derived from feminism. Many feminists regard sexual objectification as deplorable and as playing an important role in gender inequality. However, some social commentators argue that some modern women objectify themselves as an expression of their empowerment.

            No doubt objectification is the new female empowerment.

            MsDoUntoMenAsWeAreDoneBy.

            Like

          • violetwisp says:

            I’m kind of flattered that anything I write could look pseudo-intellectual. Concerned obviously that it made no sense, as it seems simple and obvious to me, but then I’m not a writer. I see humans in a constant state of evolution, never with all the answers. That make more sense?

            As I said about objectification, I recognise it has harmful consequences for disadvantaged groups (in this case, women) – driving their value down to mere sex. I don’t know how to place that alongside the knowledge that depending on how our sex drive functions we’re likely to find certain people at a glance sexually attractive – whatever our gender or sexuality.

            Like

          • Don’t forget the patronising waffle 🙂
            Er, not really. I see regression a lot of the time.
            Did you read the definition of sexual objectification?

            Like

          • violetwisp says:

            Yes. Hot men are hot men. What can I do? You’re making me feel like you think I should heed the words of Jesus and never even think the thought! 😉

            Like

          • I think I’m beginning to realise why we have different views of feminism.

            Like

        • Not that I want to prolong this discussion you’re having with Roughseas any further, but I have to jump in on the “feminism can be whatever anyone wants it to be.” How would you prove that statement?
          The problem with saying something like that is a departure from references and facts; Technically speaking, what has to be done first is the establishment of a definition i.e.

          A) Feminism is the school of thought which has as its primordial point the concept that all individuals should be treated as equal citizens independent of their gender.
          Therefore:
          B) If a woman accepts lower pay for the same job as a man or engages in X, Y or Z activities which reinforce her role as a second class citizen, then that is not feminism.

          It’s precisely departing from the way we categorize knowledge and develop logic that allows for Christian fundamentalist women to say that female subjugation is the right and real *feminism*- although what they’re actually doing is destroying language as we know it.

          Like

          • Wait. I paraphrased the ‘feminism is what you want’. Based on a) Vernon’s look inside Amazon pages and b) thought it sounded rather like violet’s view of feminism, ie warm and fuzzy and equal. So, don’t put my assumptions into her keyboard. So to type.

            Now regarding A) I think you and violet agree.

            However I don’t 🙂 Because what that is doing, with such a bland statement, is discounting the odd few years of oppression/discrimination. It is also buying into the bizarre equality theory.

            So for example, when so-called feminists support Islamic groups wanting to ban Maryam Namazie, I am worried. I am worried about feminists who say a minority (for now) religious group in the UK should take preference over a former Muslim woman who wants to speak about her experiences. This is the religion that has recently raped four women and stoned them to death for adultery. Sure, we should put Islamic fundamental views before those of women.

            But I will agree on B.

            Like

          • My comment was regarding method not statements themselves: If A is _____, then ____. You’re welcomed to change that to “grass is defined as _____, then____.”

            Violet, on more than one occasion, has appealed to a variety of relativism which implies, for example, that all opinions are equal. When she says we’re in a “constant state of evolution” or “that it’s not a religion”- the implication is it can be anything anyone wants it to be.

            ‘Tis not so. Without precise definitions, parameters and standards there can’t even be a discussion.

            Like

          • Thank you for the explanation darling. Given that it was well past my bedtime, clearly some of my brain cells had gone to sleep. But yes, in that case, I do agree with your analysis of (lack of) method.

            Like

  3. The title ‘Hot Feminist’ is a strong indicator to me that the read may well be truly appalling, and from what I’ve gleaned, what might have been an interesting glimpse into yet another angle of someone’s definition of feminism has been lost in a large pile of steaming tripe. I have not read it mind you. But your excerpts do put me off. A lot.

    – esme upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    • That the idea of feminism (of whatever type) needs to have the incentive of fashion tips and hotness leaves my scratching my head, still mostly covered with brown, not grey/white. Plus I am puzzled why a 40+ year old woman (if I have got that right) is writing like a hyperactive teenager? Just. Weird.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ruth says:

    I could somewhat relate to what violetwisp termed feminist fatigue, but this book doesn’t sound remotely feminist. I’ve asked the question of you before about frilly dresses and heels. I’m kind of confused sometimes about some issues as regards feminism, but “porny” and “fashion tips” and an apparent desire to be objectified “sometimes” I’m not confused about. Reminds me of a book I once read telling Christian women how to act like porn stars for their husbands to keep them from cheating on them. Smh… Perhaps the reason she got a barrage of hate is because she has completely missed the point of feminism.

    Like

    • The term Feminist Fatigue was used by the author Polly Vernon in her book, but it sounded remarkably similar to violet’s recent post, hence my link back.
      I never did write the frilly frocks and heels one did I? Sorry, I’ll try and push it back up the agenda.
      But, ‘porny, fashion tips, objectification’ not to mention ‘skinny’ and ‘diet’ are where it all gets blurred. What is the difference between a so-called self-proclaimed feminist saying these are GOOD THINGS and a Christian manual on how to prevent your husband from straying (cos, it’s your fault if he does)? On the one hand, they boil down to the same thing. On the other it is a woman’s choice and empowerment.
      I am so waiting for this woman to get into her fifties and start to be ignored. Although she has said no to botox. So far.
      Should women trade on their looks (if they have them) while they can?

      Like

      • Ruth says:

        Apparently women only have value if they’re fashionable and hot in either case.

        No, you didn’t. I’ll wait patiently. Though I will add I think I’ve figured part of it out in that we’re indoctrinated to dress in ways that supposedly please men. I don’t dress particularly “frilly”, though I do like dresses(usually business) and heels. But I also wear jeans and sneakers. As a feminist am I supposed to dress dowdy and masculine? Unisex? I think those are the questions that I have about it. Am I meant to attempt to conceal my gender?

        Like

        • Fashionable, hot, and young. And probably submissive.

          You should have seen my work clothes. There was a British drama series, where one character said: ‘your skirt can never be too short and your legs can never be too long’. I was very good at that.

          I’ll take the rest of your comment though for the post because it does raise all the questions. Rather than write a blog post as a response!

          Like

          • Ruth says:

            Most definitely submissive. How did I leave that one out.

            I don’t have long legs and short skirts don’t look very good on me. When I was a bit younger the hour glass thing worked well.

            Like

          • I’ve never said I didn’t buy into what was expected. I could just have done better!
            I did an hour glass. A very slim one though. Not a True Hourglass™. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ruth says:

            Well if it was a slim hourglass it wasn’t a real hourglass. You were never really an hourglass at all.

            My sand has shifted. o_O

            Like

          • I know 😉
            But some books said it was 🙂
            I’ve acquired sand. From somewhere. I’d prefer the not true hourglass.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ruth says:

            Truth be told, I’d prefer not true hourglass, too. I’d prefer tall and slender but I’ve played the hand genetics dealt me. Genetics are starting to piss me off, though. While I’d rather have something a little different, pear-shaped wasn’t what I had in mind.

            Like

          • Hey, it was fun being called a boy when I was young (not). And being called flat-chested. Only took me about 40 years to work out there was a certain amount of jealousy in there. 😦 About the only thing that sinks in, is that whatever we are, isn’t right. 👿

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ruth says:

            No matter what that is.

            Like

          • Nicely said, because that’s the point. We shouldn’t have to meet some unachievable etheral unreal superimposed standard of the ideal woman. [goes off to look for sick bucket]

            Liked by 2 people

          • Ruth says:

            Well, no. And I’ve found that women can be a lot harsher than men in that regard.

            May I borrow it when you’re done?

            Like

          • It’s a permanent fixture. So no. In fact it’s Mckennedy Way. Sweet popcorn. Acquired from a customer. Serves for a washing bucket mostly. But I do like to have it on hand just in case. Popcorn buckets. Recommended as sick buckets 🙂 In fact if I ate a mouthful of popcorn I would be sick!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. lonestarlove says:

    Roughseas, although this little blurb I am about to give you does not quite go with the book you’ve described above, it at least demonstrates that some women have developed a system to combat some forms of feminism here in the States. You have to check this out. I literally laughed out loud and applauded the point these politicos are trying to make. They acknowledge the Bills do not have a chance, but at least it highlights the absurdity of the slanted gender driven politics we that are in place now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/02/16/kentucky-lawmakers-bill-would-require-men-to-get-wifes-permission-for-viagra.html?intcmp=hplnws

    Buah ha ha!!

    Like

    • Thanks for the link lonestar. ’Twas interesting. Shame that people have to go to such lengths to point out the idiocy in other laws. I noticed the suggestion about gun laws too …

      I’ll never understand US politics in my life!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lonestarlove says:

        I live here and still don’t understand a lot of it. LOL!

        Like

        • So why can’t you have a simple system? As soon as you have elected one president, you start campaigning for another. Poor person hasn’t even got their foot in the door and they have to worry about being re-elected. Then, you have these political appointment of judges to your supreme court. How impartial is that in the law? Unbelievable. Politics everywhere are crap, but America makes a real humungous meal out of it. Sorry. I’m digressing on my own post 😀

          Liked by 3 people

          • Emma says:

            Politics here is a sport, like horse racing. The well-heeled and the pundits all but place bets on their favorite candidates, and cheer them on during the ludicrously expensive and protracted election process. There is absolutely no reasonable justification for this circus, but as all things American, it too must be big, loud, and obnoxious.

            Liked by 1 person

          • That figures. I don’t agree with horse-racing either. So basically, the horses are like the populace, used and abused for the benefit of a rich minority.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Words must be so irritated with people. Each has an identity, then some person looking to earn a buck or applause warps the thing until it’s unrecognizable. Marketing, greed, and hunger for power has been many a noun’s downfall….and the rest of the parts of speech aren’t staying well connected either.
    So much is all about the money now – books, politics, you name it.
    (Justice Scalia wasn’t even cold and the jackals – all of who declared how much they respected him – were fighting over the spoils. Talk about inappropriate…and once again the Americans are demonstrating boarish behavior.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh dear. I’m so glad I spent hours practicing my Pitmans Teeline, I needn’t have bothered. Not that I’m a fully functioning journalist anymore but still … makes me proud to be female (not).

    Like

    • Me too. I knew quite a few people who had to put back their Prof Test because they didn’t have their 100wpm. What annoyed me about her description of her ‘trade’ and ‘core skill set’ was swanking about not having shorthand when the rest of us worked hard on that and other exams.

      Anyway, don’t care if she’s been deputy ed of the Observer magazine, her style of writing in the ‘Look Inside’ is appalling. Let alone her illogical thought process.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. theoccasionalman says:

    I am totally with you, that this book sounds completely uninteresting. Or interesting for the wrong reasons, a sort of anthropological foray into the mind of a woman I have nothing in common with. But I think she has one correct idea, that what the mainstream culture thinks of as “feminism” doesn’t serve a lot of women. I’ll admit that the mainstream idea of feminism is warped, but that warped definition is the only one a lot of people get. (Hence the ‘womanist’ movement, cf Alice Walker.)

    Women my age grew up watching all those Meg Ryan movies where the women have professional success, but feel empty until they have the right man in their lives (preferably Tom Hanks or Hugh Jackman–getting Billy Crystal in her life was sort of a disaster). The message was that not only can you have it all, you should want to — both the family and the job, at least two or three things that require full-time work. Then, when they run into situations like my friend did, where she felt she was choosing graduate school and a career in social work over having her own children, they feel betrayed because they don’t live in a movie. [My friend doesn’t, btw. I’m just using her as an example of a you-really-can’t-have-it-all situation.] And they think feminism has let them down, when it was really Hollywood.

    This book doesn’t appeal to you and me because we’re not its intended audience. She’s trying to pacify the people who feel as if feminists look down on them, the women without theoretical training who would are too fascinated by cute shoes to notice income inequality. But instead of giving them the theoretical training in a form they can understand, she’s just telling them it’s okay to want cute shoes. She may have a good goal, giving a voice to women who feel left out of feminism, but goes about it in a bad way.

    I feel like I’ve started talking (or at least thinking) in circles. Too much caffeine today. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense. Also sorry if I’ve started pontificating about something that’s really none of my business; being a man, I can’t help it sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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