Tuesday, 16 June 2015

'Hot Feminist' by Polly Vernon

I haven’t heard anybody say that we need one but on the off chance that Feminism™ is looking for a PR person then Polly Vernon is putting her hand up. In Hot Feminist the Grazia columnist and Times writer spells out her own manifesto (missing a trick right there) for modern day feminism. And it is fun, girls, fun! *withering eye roll*

In Polly’s feminism, which makes you a ‘hot feminist’ by the way, women are primarily concerned with what they’re wearing and they're busy lusting after men. From time to time they remember that they should also say a few things about being ever so angry about the pay gap, abortion access and rape stats. But mostly hot feminists are interested in looking good and making sure that they’re justified it to themselves that it’s a matter of choice and not because they’re shallow.

Good grief!

Hot Feminist is just what feminism does not need. Just as tireless campaigners like Julie Bindel, Caroline Criado Perez, Finn Mackay, Laura Bates, Nimco Ali et al work their socks off for women to be recognised in society as people not sex objects, for FGM to be criminalised, and prostitution and sexual violence against women to be taken more seriously and for the importance of women-only spaces (among many other issues)… someone like Polly Vernon comes along with fluffy Fun Feminism™ urging women to dress well (she gives a lot of fashion advice in her book), love men all of the time, and drink Diet Coke ‘cos that’s feminist (how?).

Sample quote: “Pick your lipstick the way you pick your women… Sorry, sorry, not women… Racehorses! The way you pick your racehorse. Go for the ones with the good names!”

Not a joke. This is on page 150 if you don’t believe me.

In Polly’s world, you should definitely call yourself a feminist because it’s fashionable to these days and nobody will judge you anymore and if they do then hey, you’re a hot feminist so that’s OK (!). In Hot Feminist she shoehorns in one or two brief mentions to abortion rights and the pay gap, as if to justify hitching her book to the Fun Feminism™ bandwagon. She recounts details of her sexual assault when she was a university student but does so by making light of the attack, which really and truly confused me. What was her message here? That sexual assault is something to laugh off? That it’s not so serious because it happens to so many women? I honestly and truly don’t know. And I despair.

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