Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole

Title: Girls Will Be Girls
Author: Emer O'Toole
Publisher:  Orion
Pages: 288
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir

Being a woman is, largely, about performance - how we dress and modify our bodies, what we say, the roles we play, and how we conform to expectations. Gender stereotypes are still deeply embedded in our society, but Emer O'Toole is on a mission to re-write the old script and bend the rules of gender - and she shows how and why we should all be joining in.

Exploring what it means to 'act like a girl', Emer takes us on a hilarious and thought-provoking journey through her life (including singing 'Get Your Pits Out for the Lads' on national TV after growing out her body hair). Cross-dressing, booty-shaking, sexual disasters, family dinners and full-body waxing are all lovingly dissected in search of wisdom.

With game-changing ideas, academic intelligence and laugh-out-loud humour, this book will open your mind and revolutionise the way that you think about gender.
This is a really hard book to review. I was expecting Girls Will Be Girls to be more of a scientific non-fiction when actually it is more of a memoir. I do like a good memoir, but this one didn't really 'open my mind' like the blurb claimed.

It is essentially about Emer O'Toole's experience growing up in Ireland and how gender expectations affected her and how she became a feminist. None of the ideas in here were that unique to me. It was funny in places but ultimately I found myself rolling my eyes. There is nothing new or revolutionary about dressing like a boy on occasion or not shaving your armpits, it's all been done before. I think this book is geared more towards feminist newbies who aren't really familiar with a lot of the basic feminist rhetoric.

As a memoir, it was fascinating to read about some of Emer's experiences with sexism and gender stereotypes in Irish culture. She does have a a few good points about the fluidity of gender and sexuality. I think Emer's hope for a genderless society where everyone is treated completely equally is a nice idea but I'm not sure all women would want that. I'm more geared towards liberation myself rather than strict equality.

Regardless of my personal opinions, I can't deny this is a fascinating look at an individual's experiences with feminism and gender politics. It's not exactly the same to my own experiences and that is great as it showed me a new perspective.

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