Are you a feminist? Do you believe women are human beings and that they deserve all the same rights as men? If so, then you are a feminist . . .
Or are you? Is it really that simple? Outspoken cultural critic Jessa Crispin says somewhere along the way, the movement for female liberation sacrificed meaning for acceptance, and left us with a banal, polite, ineffectual pose that barely challenges the status quo.
In this bracing, fiercely intelligent manifesto, she demands more: nothing less than the total dismantling of the system of oppression—and of what people currently think of as “feminism.”
‘The author’s ferocious critique effectively reframes the terms of any serious discussion of feminism. You’ll never trust a you-go-girl just-lean-in bromide again. Forget busting glass ceilings. Crispin has taken a wrecking ball to the whole structure.’ —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
‘Feminists have, in fact, become polite insiders, and Crispin is here to show them how to punch their way out. A rallying manifesto; start swinging.’ —Library Journal
‘Rabble-rousing, impolitic, and eloquent, Why I Am Not a Feminist models the latitudes and freedoms it wants us all—us women, us feminists, us humans—to embody. Enough with the safety-mongering, says Crispin: Let’s break stuff! Let’s get messy! Let’s make feminism radical again.’ —Laura Kipnis, Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation
Jessa Crispin is the editor and founder of the online magazine Bookslut and the online literary journal Spolia. She is the author of The Dead Ladies Project and The Creative Tarot, and has written for numerous leading publications, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post and others.
Crispin's (The Dead Ladies Project) slim polemic fits into the long tradition of advocates for women's rights condemning the feminist politics of their historical moment for betraying the cause. Modern feminism, the author argues, has become a nonthreatening, commercialized, narcissistic lifestyle. In a series of nine brief chapters, she charges feminists with embracing a "universal feminism, devoid of any real personal internal change" or political action that benefits a privileged few. Many young feminists, she points out, have rejected the fiery radicalism of activists such as Andrea Dworkin, Shulamith Firestone, Germaine Greer, and Catharine MacKinnon in favor of more banal and self-interested versions of feminist philosophy and practice. They embrace victimhood and ideological purity, and are obsessed with individualized power rather than collective action for lasting, systemic change. Critique from within is vital to any movement, but Crispin's analysis relies heavily on outdated stereotypes of young activists and "Internet feminism." This work ignores or disparages the diversity of feminisms embraced by contemporary activists, including those under 30, women of color, trans and non-straight women, disabled feminists, and male allies; "disowning" a falsely singular and caricatured feminism is likely to alienate more readers than it will convert. Those seeking radical inspiration would do better to start elsewhere, perhaps with Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff's 2015 anthology The Feminist Utopia Project.