Saturday, December 27, 2008

3. "Full Frontal Feminism" by Jessica Valenti

Valenti, Jessica. Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters. Berkeley: Seal Press, 2007.

Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

In Full Frontal Feminism, Jessica Valenti wants us to believe that feminism is one of the greatest things to ever happen, and I believe her. Valenti outlines how women of the twenty first century are faced with many obstacles and the important role that feminism will play in overcoming these obstacles. In chapters like “If These Uterine Walls Could Talk” and “You’re a Hardcore Feminist, I Swear” Valenti exposes the dangers of misogynist attitudes and encourages women to find their own form of feminism. Valenti writes, “Besides, at the end of the day, feminism is really something you define for yourself” (14).

The title suggests that the book is for “young” women but Valenti fails to define exactly who these “young women” are. It seems, based on some deductions I’ve made on the amount of time she spends writing towards a particular type of woman, that the young woman she is writing to is attractive, white (ahem, the cover of the book is a skinny, naked white woman), heterosexual, and between the age of 18 and 25 years old. This choice limits the scope of the book putting Valenti in danger of contradicting herself.

Valenti has, nonetheless done decent research and the writing, although gritty and full of f-bombs, keeps a steady pace. The book, despite its faults, is a good starting point for newbies to feminist theory. It is loaded with awesome resources and great bibliographic info. The language is accessible and the message is clear and well-supported: feminism effing rocks.

3 darts out of 5

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2. Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Cast, P.C. and Kristin. Marked. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007.
Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

Marked documents the story of Zoey, an average teenage girl who just wants to fit in. Zoey is “marked” which means she has begun the process of changing into a vampire. Luckily, there is a vampire finishing school located right in her hometown. Convenient coincidences aside, readers must trudge along with the protagonist while she whines about wanting to fit in for the next 300 pages. Once I got past the inherent racism of the text (every non-Western or indigenous culture to have ever existed are vampire cultures) the book was a fast read.

This book is like Twilight meets Harry Potter meets Mean Girls but the plot lacks the kind of substance that I was hoping for. The incessant pop-culture references and teeny-bopper narration become irritating after a while. As a teen, I would have been annoyed at the lack of credit Cast gives to her teenage readership. Marked, which is the first book in the House of Night series, sets up the possibility for an interesting sequel and provides a fascinating new take on what it means to be a vampire. It also sends pretty decent messages to its young readers: be open and accepting of people be they gay, or straight, black or white, etc.; respect yourself; love your body, and stand up to wrongdoers.

Rating: 2 darts out of 5