Feminism is cool. After what seems like decades of confinement to university campuses, niche publications and the WI, it’s bursting through to mainstream culture in a tidal wave. Feminism is surfacing on TV, in cinemas, in popular books, in mainstream magazines… it’s even on t-shirts! It feels like its being talked about and owned by young women in a way not seen for 30 years and people from all walks of life are taking an interest.
One of those people is stand up comedian Bridget Christie. Prince Charming and I have read Ms. Christie’s book, ‘A Book for Her (and Him if He can Read)‘, so in this post you’re getting two for the price of one. You lucky people!
‘A Book for Her‘ is part career-memoir and part personal journey. In it, Ms Christie talks about how an unfortunate bookseller farting in a shop’s Women’s Studies section set her off on a journey which leads to her becoming the go-to ‘feminist comedian’. The whole journey seems to have surprised her as much as anything else. She begins with a feeling that she needs to know more, but the event puts a wind in her sails that leads her to use her comedic writing and performing talents to bring some of the very harrowing key issues in modern feminism to the fore.
Prince Charming was a bit worried about reading ‘A Book for Her (And Him if He Can Read)‘. “‘Thank goodness for this book’s subtitle. Before I read it, I made sure I went away and dug out my old Peter and Jane books to learn to read. I worked really hard and made sure I could read before tackling Ms Christie’s book, although some of the long words still eluded me and I had to ask Eileen what they meant.”
Well, that’s what dictionaries are for, isn’t it? Fortunately, I’d already learned to read, although I was finding it hard to work out which book I was supposed to read, being a woman and all that. That’s probably why I ended up with so many, I was looking for one which told me it was the one for me, you know, made it REALLY obvious. If only more of them were pink with pictures of women on, it would make the whole process an awful lot easier and I wouldn’t get so swept up in Waterstones.
Once he’d got to grips with all the words and reading malarkey, I found I had to put up with Prince Charming laughing quite a lot at this book. As he puts it “Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was funny and thought provoking.” Goodness, he’s right! It is both funny and thought provoking, getting steadily more powerful as Christie finds her feet and begins talking about the issues she feels strongest about, in particular Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). As she learned more, so did I, which made this a worthwhile, if disjointed, read.
I’ve read a number of books about feminist issues. They’ve varied from factual essay-style texts or to passionate and well-informed, well, rants. ‘A Book for Her‘ is different because it’s about a relatively ordinary woman working out what feminism means to her and deciding for herself why it’s important. She says that she’s not well informed about it at the start, but she has curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, which lead her to a cause and a desire to use the skills she has to change the world.
The book does feel dubiously structured, however, much like a sandcastle as the tide comes in. It’s almost as if Christie just started writing, without any sort of plan, and it’s not until about half way through, as she starts talking about her career to date and transformation into a ‘feminist comedian’, that she seems to find her feet. From then on, it’s very readable and interesting. Before that, it’s funny, but rather meandering and doesn’t really push you to keep reading.
Prince Charming agreed. “I would though have preferred two books, one about Ms Christie’s stand up shows as they all sounded interesting and one about the serious issues the book covers. The two themes could have done with a book each as I felt the direction of the book got lost trying to do both.” That’s a man speaking. And I agree with him, so it must be right!
For me, this book had the strange effect of making me want to watch Christie’s previous shows on DVD. But, oddly, they’re not available, as far as I can tell anyway. I blame the patriarchy.
Overall, I felt that this was a good book for the cautious in that it’s about a personal relationship with feminism, a thoughtful consideration of why the subject is important rather than an impassioned scream telling us it has to be. I will always be grateful to it for the information it provides on FGM. I’d heard the term before, but was shocked by what I read here. And I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now that’s feminism covered, we’re off to read about monster trucks…