Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Published: 21st September 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Hodder Children’s Books
Pages: 340
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

It’s time to fight like a girl!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

I had been reading a lot of feminist and activist books and I picked this up expecting it to be the kind of book that ignites a fire within me and it did…to a point. One possible reason for this was that I have not experienced the American school system which this novel is so deeply based around so I couldn’t relate in that sense or figure out if things really get this extreme. I read so many American books set in high school and it is the wildest thing to read about these experiences I sometimes can’t tell whether it is just a combination of a variety of experiences or whether all these situations and these people could exist in real life at the same time. I have seen the same formula over and over again I am convinced that it is actually how American school systems work and it’s the most bizarre thing as an outsider to read about.

The other reason I think I wasn’t as impressed was that Viv is the kind of quiet girl who never does anything wrong, doesn’t stand out too much so for her to do anything it is a big deal and she does it in small steps, unsure where to go next and worried about the steps she does take. I wonder if Viv had had a stronger personality it would have changed the story at all. It would suit the character to do something like that so perhaps having timid Vivian makes it more powerful in what she does. It read like My First Feminism and I appreciated what she was doing, but it didn’t grab me. To Mathieu’s ’s credit, it did at times remind me of my own high school experiences, bra snapping was clearly a worldwide thing for teenage boys.

It’s not just the Straight White Girl who fights injustice, Mathieu’s covered the women of colour and lesbian perspectives but it’s brief and almost unnatural. The different perspectives help Viv and the readers understand that everyone has different experiences and understanding that is important. I can’t decide whether this is good inclusion and self-awareness, or a message but it stood out as being Mathieu’s attempt to cover all the bases and it took me from the book briefly because it felt like a side note for the reader to remember.

I feel a bit bad for critiquing this because it wasn’t terrible, but it just fell flat. There were positives, I admired what Vivien was aiming to achieve, and glad she managed to start the revolution she was after. In that it was a success. I don’t suppose Mathieu’s was trying to ignite the reader’s reaction, though maybe she was, but I think you don’t need to have had a strong reaction to enjoy it. I think perhaps I had had this novel build up as a girl power feminist novel that I expected it to pull a few more punches.

You can purchase Moxie via the following

QBD | Book Depository | Booktopia

Angus & Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

 

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Published: 28th September 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Pages: 294
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.

Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.

I had been hearing so much about this book when it was published and I was eager to get my hands on it and experience it for myself. Reading it was all I hoped it would be and more, I filled its pages with Post It’s marking of important and wonderful quotes. I also got to meet Ford at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival which was amazing, as was listening to her in her sessions.

Fight Like A Girl is a book that everyone should read, every girl and every woman, but also every man. So many of my own experiences are laid out in this book. The fact that I can agree with so much of Ford’s words should be worrying, but it’s not. They’re a comfort because it reminds me that I’m not being paranoid or silly when I hold me keys in my fingers walking back to my car late at night, it reminds me I’m not overreacting when I feel uncomfortable having a stranger talk to me at the bus stop when he’s a little drunk, worried what he’ll say and what I’m safe to respond with. It makes me think of all the times I’ve placated a thought to save hurting a man’s feelings and not stood up for something out of fear of personal verbal attack. It’s reminded me that the passion and the fight I feel inside me is one that many women out there are feeling and that it’s ok to feel this way.

Ford addresses many issues and “societal norms” I suppose we could call them through her chapters and she is unapologetic in her words and opinions. Mixed in with her own experiences it’s actually a humorous and enlightening book at times that looks at how society has been constructed to see women as the lesser and the weaker, the one in need of defending and the one who is not only walked over and shut down by the patriarchy, but happy to have it happen.

It’s not all agreement and scoffs at how men are and how childish they can be when their ways of life are challenged. Parts of this book made me sick to my stomach and it makes me angry and sad, but more importantly, it flames the fire I’ve been stoking for the past few years. The feminist I’ve been since my second year of uni and the one who’s gradually doing a little more than fuming internally and sharing Tumblr posts, cheering in the tags.

This is a book for everyone. To quote Ford, it “is a love letter to the girls”. There are some tough topics being discussed in here, but they’re important, and this book is important because if someone doesn’t want to listen to (or believe) a women’s experience from her own mouth, you can always throw this book at them instead.

You can purchase Fight Like A Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Dymocks | Allen & Unwin

Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld | Fishpond

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