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.
Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2015.
Here we have the intro:
Here we have how the name came to be decided upon: because 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.
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 …?