Book review :: Hot Feminist

Dear readers,
The next time someone calls you a hypocritical little feminist because you might have (accidentally) laughed at a sexist joke or cracked one on men or something other of the sort that doesn't conform to a "typical" feminist ideology, throw this book at their big fat head. This can achieve three things:
1. The blow might knock sense into their head
2. They might pick it up and read it
3. (Hopefully) The blow can kill them

Hot FeministHot Feminist by Polly Vernon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review was first published for The Hans India

The gears of feminism have shifted putting into motion a new wave of political ideologies towards gender equality. Polly Vernon’s first book is modern feminism 101 with tips and tricks for acing it

Unabashedly real, unapologetically brazen

London-based Grazia columnist, Polly Vernon sure knows how to brew a storm in a teacup. Those who read her in the past know how she brazenly talks on controversial subjects. And, what more controversial a subject than 'feminism', in this case, 'hot feminism'?

Polly's first book, ‘Hot Feminist’ is heavily white and almost memoir-ish. But, fret not. It might be perceived as feminism for only whites or for a certain class of people, but in reality what Polly is trying here is to empower women of all colours through the anecdotes she narrates. And, make you laugh a little in that process.

Narrated in an offhand language, the book is presented in four major chapters, ‘Non-Judgement Day’, ‘The Fashionable Feminist’, ‘Beauty and the Feminist’ and ‘Men, wives, babies’ and two complementary chapters, ‘The Other Things’ and ‘The N Word’.

Polly Vernon strips the behaviour of women and bravely bares it all revealing the most intimate reasons of doing what they do. Yikes! From being a bitch to other women to assorting to manipulative behaviour to get their way, from shaving the ‘V’ for a quality “bang” to campaigning for the right to safe abortion; Polly’s version of a modern feminist does it all unapologetically.

A hot feminist’s rule of thumb is non-judgement; let others be what/who they want to be, let them do what they want to do and so on and so forth. On a much deeper level though, a hot feminist does not spend her energy in challenging every little thing that is sexist and comes in the way of gender equality. “Because we have a shitload of feminist wrath built up within us, and sometimes we misdirect it,” writes Polly. Although, she understands that the little things are a contributing factor to the major things, on which she has her eyes set on by the way, Polly’s feminism directs the feminist “wrath” calculatedly—this includes gender pay gap; right to legal and safe abortion; and rape and sexual assault.

While most the content is globally relevant, geographical idiosyncrasies do creep in especially in the chapter that talks about men and their role in raising children. In Polly’s version, men do not have the mental and emotional stress in raising a child (as much as women do) because they are never conditioned about the burdens of the said “job” and never questioned about it in social groups. However, this is not true in India. Stereotypical gender roles dictate a man to be the sole bread earner in the family and this particular role is a much-discussed one in all social groups in the country.

This could have been Hachette India’s boldest publication so far if not for the ‘Foreword to the Paperback Edition’ that sort of melts the book’s point away; Polly has had to put in justifications for her choices she mentions in it and the backlash she received when it was first published in the UK.

Having said that, if you’re anything like the “hot feminist” — you started shaving your legs at 12 years of age to look sexy because you read somewhere that Angelina Jolie does that, you love to check out guys and imagine scenarios in your head involving them and you don’t want to have babies —this book will make you feel that you’re not alone. And, that’s saying something because it is not a conventional thing to be a woman of such hotness!

The gears of feminism have shifted putting into motion a new wave of political ideologies towards gender equality. Wanting to be ‘hot’ may have more than a little to do with choice, but one cannot deny that there is a certain amount of desire of being fanciable to a potential “partner” associated with it. In the face of changing feminist values, the book comes in as a handyguide as one struggles with their political stance on feminism. It provides an understanding so that one can justify their hypocrisy in the face of little compromises they make with their male/female counterparts in personal and professional lives merely to get along or get their way. Feel a little better about yourself because there is no such thing as a perfect feminist.

It is time to rave the world in red – Ruby Woo lips, Louboutin heels and strappy Gucci dress – take charge and seize power.

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