From Jennifer Baumgardner, one of the leading voices of Third Wave feminism, comes this provocative, thoughtful, often funny collection of essays and interviews that offers a state of the union on contemporary feminist issues.
F 'em! is a mix of old and new essays by Baumgardner, ranging in tone from laugh-out-loud confessional to sobering analysis. She investigates topics as varied as purity balls, sexuality, motherhood, and shared breastfeeding; rape, reproductive rights, and the future of feminism. The essays in F 'em! are rounded out by candid one-on-one interviews with leading feminists who have influenced Baumgardner's perspectives—including Riot Grrrls' Kathleen Hanna, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, transgender activist Julia Serano, and artists like Ani DiFranco, Björk, and Amy Ray. At turns intimate, fierce, philosophical, and funny, they are an intimate window into the minds and hearts of Third Wave pioneers. Holding it all together is Baumgardner's insightful thinking about what it means to be a feminist today, as she answers frequently-asked questions: What does it mean to be a woman today? Do we even need feminism anymore?
Thought-provoking and cutting-edge, F 'em! provides a clearer and more complete understanding of feminism—its past, its present, and its future.
Now in her 40s, writer, activist, and Third Wave feminist Baumgardner (Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics) has "shed the skin of a young feminist'" and become smarter and more sophisticated. Her sophistication is evident in this well-organized, thoughtful, informative, and funny collection of essays and interviews in which she covers everything from "feminism as a myth" to father-daughter purity balls. Especially riveting sections include Baumgardner's portrayal of her younger self, the "cold reality" of working for Ms. in the 1990s, and the hilarious chapter "How to Do Everything Wrong," which examines her life choices. With skillful segues between topics, she writes lucidly about the transformative powers of children as well as the darker side of feminist issues, including abortion and incest. If there's a weakness in the book, it would be the interviews, though she's chosen a rich collection of personalities from musician Bj rk to Bust cofounder and editor Debbie Stoller. In addition, it would have been helpful for unfamiliar readers if Baumgardner had defined First Wave through Fourth Wave feminists at the beginning, rather than at the very end.