Cons: Somewhat problematic Instagram scrolling -like of a book which is for some reason categorised under the section of Feminist/Gender studies
Expectations don’t unfortunately always meet reality and so was the case for myself with Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. Having followed the massive hype around the piece I was fascinated and excited to begin the journey with it. After reading three pages, I started to feel awkward as the dialogue between Given’s past self and the person she is today is definitely not plausible. No, this is not fiction but it could have been executed using plausible language.
The book is easy to consume. It combines basics of intersectional feminism (doesn’t go in depth) and a glimpse of the author’s life as a feminist queer woman as self-help meets memoir-of-a-sort. Given shows the controversy of how society treats women and offers good points about being single, toxic masculinity, body positivity, pretty privilege, avoiding stereotypes, the problem of assuming (e.g. gender, sexuality, background, pronouns) and noticing one’s unconditional bias.
However, the book repeats what has already been said and written many times before and doesn’t offer any original insights. Gaslighting is being mentioned at multiple occations and, at times, not accordingly to its definition. The same incident appears with the chapter about “The Female Gaze” which lacks proper explanation and interpretation, not to mention the right definition. Some matters are black and white and Given has a tendency to throw out her own opinions in the form of universal truths, for instance: “We are wired to fall in love with emotionally unavailable people.” No, dear author, we are not.
In short, Given’s book is a fascinatingly illustrated feminist self-help book for privileged white heterosexual cis-women. Instead of acknowledging queer readers thus, offering readers queer theory, Given only writes about her own experiences. There are also accusations of Given having copied Chidera Eggerue’s work (which I won’t take any further since I haven’t read Eggerues What a Time to Be Alone).
The book is an easy read with a lot of good points and reminders and a great book in the form of feminism 101 but unfortunately, it’s not for me. After reading the piece, I’m craving cake because of a metaphor. A whole lotta cake.