Writing ★★ Cover ★★★★ Informative ★★ PROS: CONS: Redundant Too much repetition Narrow definition of feminism
I like to switch up my reading a little, going from fiction, to non-fiction and vice-versa. I saw Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed some months ago, and was really looking forward to read it and learn from its content.
I thought about whether or not I should share my review of the book with you, as I really don’t like leaving negative reviews. I am always looking to promote authors and encourage them in their labor. However, life is not all made of roses.
Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed aims to show how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. The promise to the reader is huge; to understand what feminism is and how to lead a feminist life. However, within the first pages of the book, I quickly realized that I was not going to finish it. I tried my best to get through the book, telling myself that I just needed to get through the (long) introduction and that then! the book and all its promises would be revealed to me. I should have known better. The introduction sets the tone to the book, serving as a preview of what is yet to come. Sara Ahmed starts off the book as one would expect, through a recollection of memories of her childhood that led her to become a feminist. However, her writing is very scattered and quite redundant. She justifies repetition as a way to reinforce an idea. Although it may be true, I found it quite annoying to find words and concepts to be regurgitated to me every two paragraphs, as if I, the reader would not be able to grasp the highlighted concepts and understand the full implications of what being a feminist or leading a feminist life entails.
I also could not really agree with Sara Ahmed’s view of feminism. It seems that for her, feminism is really a result of either sexism or harassment. However, I believe that feminism embraces many social injustices and seeks to bring social justice as a whole, by promoting an egalitarian and respectful society. Also, Sara Ahmed thinks of feminism as being something that is “sensational”. In fact, she goes through several paragraphs to define the term for us readers (in case we do not understand it), and reiterate that feminism is sensational. I can’t agree with that, as it seems like feminism is a superficial cause, that is not even a cause, but merely a trend which everyone is slowly adopting. Feminism is much more than that.
Living a Feminist Life, should have been a guide to all those who seek to lead a feminist life. Instead, I thought it was more of a memoir, a recollection of life events that led the author to become a feminist. It is also a repository of inspirational quotes by other famous feminists. As such, I think the book should have been titled more like “A collection of personal experiences” or something like “How I live a feminist life, and what inspires me“. I personally have not learned much from this book, and probably this is because I couldn’t make my way through its end. I guess, not all books are meant to be finished, and despite my reluctance to give up, I had to make amends and close the book.
Of course, this is my take on Living a Feminist Life. Another person might have actually enjoyed it better than I did. I really wish it had been me.
Thank you to NetGalley, and Duke University Press for an ARC of Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed,