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Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism Excerpt

By Cultures Of Dignity | August 10, 2017

Girl Up Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everday Sexism is a hilarious and important new novel by Laura Bates. Written for girls 14 through early 20s, this book offers advice to help young women navigate topics of body image, sex, social media, and culture.

Emma Watson perfectly sums up the need for this clever novel full of awesome illustrations in the preface:

‘I will preface this by saying – anything that makes navigating being a teenage girl even slightly easier is a godsend. This book is not for the faint-hearted (think lots of swearing, pictures of vaginas and “patriarchy busting”), but frankly I think that might be what we need – a book that unapologetically addresses what teenage girls are really dealing with. Don’t understand what your teenage daughter is going through or, even if you do, how to help her tackle it? This is the book for you and for her. So necessary. SO timely. Thorough. Straightforward. Well researched. Intelligent. 0% patronizing. Hopefully we can save a few more women some years of self-loathing and “what’s wrong with me” questions.’’  – Emma Watson

Enjoy the following excerpt from Chapter 12, The F-Word.

When I talk about this in schools, I often get asked (usually by suspicious boys), “If it’s truly about equality and not about women being better than men, then why not call it equalism, or humanism?” The answer to this is really simple—first of all, humanism is kind of already another thing, guys. And secondly, the “fem” bit of the word is really important. Yes, we really are campaigning for everybody to be equal, there is no secret evil plan for women to take over the universe. But in order to reach equality, it is women whose rights need to be fought for, because it is women who have traditionally borne the brunt of structural oppression, gender inequality, and sexual violence. And that’s why the “fem” bit is there, and why it’s important. As previously discussed, this doesn’t mean boys can’t face sexism too, and feminism also fights against the gender stereotypes and social expectations that harm men.

Once you realize all of this, it becomes clear that saying you’re not a feminist is a little bit gross and kind of embarrassing. Anyone who actually makes a point of saying that they are not a feminist should be treated socially in exactly the same way as someone who proudly comes out and admits that they never wash their hands after going to the toilet:

  • General bafflement and disapproval
  • Screwing up of noses in their general direction
  • When they hand around nuts, NOBODY takes one

Once you know what feminism means, you realize that the only way to not be a feminist is to think that women and men shouldn’t be equal, which is . . . pretty sexist. There kind of isn’t an in-between. So I think a lot of people who say they aren’t feminists just don’t really get what it means.

The Venn diagram looks roughly like this:

Anybody who says “I’m not a feminist but .. .” is either a feminist or an asshole. Actually, everybody is either a feminist or an asshole. And it doesn’t mean you have to change your hobbies or your personality or join some kind of cult.

Here’s a handy checklist of things you can do and still be a feminist:

• Like fashion
• Wear makeup
• Like men
• Have sex
• Really like sex
• Wear jeans
• Not want to date or marry men
• Not want to date or marry anybody
• Be disabled or nondisabled, religious or nonreligious, employed or unemployed
• Laugh
• Drink cocktails
• Wear a headscarf
• Be a student
• Bake
• Have kids
• Not have kids
• Work
• Be a stay-at-home parent
• Read books
• Fall in love
• Eat bananas
• Have friends (I promise)

Here’s what you can’t do while being a feminist:

• Think men and women shouldn’t be equal

It’s literally that simple.

I realize this is a lot to take in, so to help clarify, follow this simple flowchart to see if YOU might be a feminist:


Adapted from Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. Copyright © 2016 by Laura Bates.  Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

LAURA BATES is a feminist writer, published regularly in The Guardian, Time,, and The Independent, The New Statesman, and is regularly asked for comment by Vice, The Atlantic, and others. She is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project – a crowdsourced collection of stories from women around the world about their experiences with gender inequality. She was named one of the Huffington Post’s Most Inspirational Women of 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Shorty Award in activism. Bates was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honors List, and has been named a Woman of the Year by The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, and Red magazine. GIRL UP is her second book, following the critically acclaimed Everyday Sexism.