Here We Are
by Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Perseus Books Group, Running Press
Summary: Let’s get the feminist party started!
Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It’s packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular YA authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. Altogether, the book features more than forty-four pieces, with an eight-page insert of full-color illustrations.
Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.
I will start this review by saying that I received an online copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange of a honest review.
I will start by saying that I will not take any part in discussions about feminism here but as usual you are more than welcome to share your thoughts in the comments box if you want to. However I must say there isn't a better time to publish a book about this subject than nowadays. The truth is western society has been changing its paradigms since the middle of XX century and of course it reflects on how we face today's challenges when discussing gender equality. Girls and young ladies are being feed wirh many versions of what feminism is (or should be) today but sometimes the people and institutions feeding them forget the subject's core and what we should be talking about. Feminism is, for all the purposes, no matter how you represent or think about the movement, the search of equal rights to men and women. This is also how I see it and how my own vision reflected on this book.
Here We Are is a collection of essays from different sources to discuss what is feminism. Its target group are young people (even if there is a particular focus mainly on girls - which, from my perspective, mixes the message from the beginning) and it considers all the subjects and concerns about teenagers and youth development nowadays.
I enjoyed the visual art and the structure created in order to make it specially appealing for young people who generally don't read non-fiction. I also appreciated the presence of essays written by men, even if the book was quite unbalanced and gave you more female writers. However one of the aims of this book is also to make girls around the world to know their inner voices matters, that what they think is valid and important and that they have a place in this world. Due to that I can understand the final decision to engage them by this strategy. Other gripping aspect was the presence of pop culture elements to help the readers see how much this subject is underlined in their lives, in so many different spheres we can't imagine it. So having lists of movies, song lyrics or TV shows (I don't want to lie but I have the idea I also saw one of these) which represent good feminist examples, showing they don't need to become different people or very engaged activists to stand up for themselves and protect their rights, is also something very enlightening.
I found very intelligent the divided structure to the various aspects, making it easier to dive in when different doubts arise. Even so, the last few essays lacked the cohesive structured presented on the first ones and seamed to be put together just to fill an empty space.
As much I understand the need to create space and encourage the girls (and boys) to stand up for themselves, to have ideas, to discuss them and to look for better, equal and fair futures, I found that many essays focused on emancipation - which is one of the many pillars of the feminism but not the only one (which caused me some itchy feelings when reading the book) - stepping aside from other aspects.
Another positive remark is the approach to the different stages of feminism in History and I think the descriptions will make young readers better prepared to deal with the challenges associated with the concept and the label itself.
I would be lying if I didn't told you I have also learned a few things during this reading, like the concept of intersectionality feminism which - for me - before reading this book and getting closer to the subject wasn't really a matter of discussion (not because it didn't matter but because I faced all the challenges presented to women on the same big package). I was forced to admit to myself that's because I don't fit in any other labels that pull someone to the middle of a big judgmental and fierce bowl of thoughts.
Finally, I'm not American neither do care much about public personalities but I understand the importance of role models and therefore, having essays written by people who these teenagers are aspiring to turn alike in the future was important as it's a hint of hope and encouragement to become better citizens and more prepared to deal with their future challenges.
About the author:
Addicted to the library Claudia loves to read on the move and we can usualy find her sitting in a train or bus reading while commuting to and from work. But don't be fooled she is also keeping an eye on the landscape and all around her. She is an avid defender of sustainability and volunteering and it's as easy to find her starting a new project as it is to find her chatting with her friends. She is a dreamer and loves good stories so she keeps looking for them in her personal life.