Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters.

Jessica Valenti
(Seal Press, 2007, 256pp, RRP £7.88)

Full Frontal Feminism (FFF) is the first book from Jessica Valenti’s. Best known for founding the online feminist blog ‘’, Valenti’s credentials run much deeper including work for organisations such as Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. FFF has received its fair share of controversy, starting with the choice of front cover. Book covers are designed to grab your attention and this fits the bill, pulling you in with a bare, slim female torso emblazoned across the front. Book covers also tend to suggest something regarding the contents of the book and the question here is why choose an image of a nameless (not to mention headless!) female body for a book tackling feminist issues such as debates surrounding beauty and body size? FFF covers a lot of ground in its 256 pages. Meanings of feminism, sex, popular culture, politics, violence against women, reproductive rights, work and employment, relationships, feminism in history, men and feminism, beauty and (rather too briefly) academic feminism are all covered. There is also a chapter of useful resources at the back of the book which gives it a real action-promoting feel.
Valenti provides a fresh feel to some long debated and challenged ideas and openly also acknowledges oppression can be multiple, multilayered and experienced differently by different women. She has tried to be inclusive throughout, considering women outside of the white, middle-class, heterosexual box (something which a lot of feminist authors I’ve read tend not to consider). The style of the book (conversational and packed full with profanities and American slang) reflects the fact that it is a quick-fire introduction to feminism for young women and, in particular, young women who may have been put off by it previously. This is where the book excels as it tackles some serious issues yet maintains a down-to-earth and often light-hearted approach throughout.

Reviewed by Laura Way

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