Wednesday, 17 August 2016

What's a Girl Gotta Do?

When Lottie is harassed in the street on her way to college, she knows something has to change. So, time for a Spinster Club special project! Lottie decides to call out every incident of sexism she sees for a whole month. No matter that her parents, teachers and peers aren't so sure about her sudden unruly behaviour. It's a great project, but is it really the time when she should be planning for her Cambridge entrance exam? Nothing can stop Lottie and her comedy horn, or can it?

Days before the release of What's a Girl Gotta Do? Holly Bourne started the #IAmAFeminist hashtag. I tweeted a few things on it, one a general reason and the other was a specific event that happened to me some time ago but stuck with me. Neither were particularly controversial but they attracted several responses from complete strangers telling me I was wrong. I am pretty sure everyone using that hashtag got the same kind of response. The fact that we can't use a hashtag about feminism without getting trolled is kind of a reason why we still need it.

So Lottie's experiences are not uncommon. Most I have experienced at some point and if not me personally, I know people who have. And yeah, by themselves, some of them are not big things but Lottie ponders whether all these small things we let slide, snowball into the big things that ruin lives.

If you've read Holly's other books, you know there's plenty of fun alongside the important messages and there's a lot to love about Lottie. The honking a horn at people is a bit ridiculous but fabulous and I love that sometimes she even honks it at herself.

Rule no. 1 - Call out anything you see that is unfair or unequal to one gender
Rule no. 2 - Don't call out the same thing twice, so you can sleep and breathe
Rule no. 3 - Always try to keep it funny

The opening scene is actually something that happened to Holly and wanting to address that fear in fiction helped form the Spinster Club. I've had some horrible things shouted at me in the street and I've had my way blocked by men "having a laugh" too. Why is this acceptable? We're just meant to shrug it off but Lottie decides to do something about it and stands up to them. Even if I as a reader felt a little scared for her at times.

Lottie talks about cognitive dissonance, when we hold two views which contradict each other. She thinks her attitude to body hair is one but not her love of make-up. One of the best bits is her insistence to carry on wearing the make-up that is part of her identity. Yes you can wear lipstick at the same time as caring about women's rights. If you enjoy something that's traditionally feminine, you do not have to stop doing it in order to be a "real feminist".

But you know, we all get tired of the constant barrage of things we should be annoyed at. Media is dulling us to the endless horrors in the world and some of us just want a quiet life. The book looks at activist burnout too and when it's right to take a step back and look after yourself first.

It said something about how society can't be changed in a lifetime. That so many people who fight for what's right won't see the results before they die.

Will is set up to not be liked for his views from the start, although Lottie clearly fancies him. He does want gender equality but he has a problem with the word feminist. And I get it, it has negative connotations to a lot of people, and a certain group find the fem bit means it's not for all genders. A few years ago I wouldn't have called myself a feminist because it implied you were a certain kind of person rather than someone who cared about equality.

But through fiction, and a lot of vocal authors on social media, I've become OK with the label. Just today I read a news article on Olympic medalists (which has thankfully been corrected since) where the man was the cyclist and the woman merely his fiance rather than the Olympic medalist she is and I wanted Lottie's horn to honk at it.

Oh and if you haven't read the other Spinster Club books, this is the third in the series and whilst each is standalone there are a few things that could be spoiled by reading this one first (like relationship story arcs).

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Book Source: Purchased

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