3 out of 4 stars
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To an unenlightened observer, Brenna Stevenson Dilts might seem like a muddle of contradictions. How else would you describe a self-proclaimed feminist who wears make-up, likes to get her nails done, and loves the color pink? In Feminist in Pink, Brenna reflects upon this misconception, tracing its roots back to the social constructs that define what is and what is not. But here’s something Brenna wishes readers would realize: Two things can be true at the same time, and the truth of one doesn’t automatically negate that of another.
Throughout the book, Brenna ponders upon the difficulty of moving beyond black-and-white thinking and learning to “live in the gray,” the need to embrace multiple truths, and what it ultimately means to have a feminist point of view. She is quick to debunk the stereotype of a feminist as “a lesbian with short hair, wearing no make-up, that hates men,” reclaiming the definition of feminism as the search to be equal to and “not to be better than” another. This pursuit for equality isn’t just for women; it’s for everyone.
Terse and candid, Brenna relates her personal experiences alongside insights on many of life’s dichotomies (e.g., self-care versus selfishness, empathy versus apathy). The prose bursts with both passion and purpose. Writing, after all, entails putting yourself out there and rendering yourself vulnerable. Brenna fully embraces the process, secure in the knowledge that there’s strength in vulnerability. She recounts moments of pain and helplessness, and she honestly discloses what she thought and felt. It’s not easy to share yourself with the world, and doing so is a test of courage that Brenna passes with flying colors.
Feminist in Pink has been a decade in the making, and it shows in how informative and substantial the book is. There’s hardly anything that I’d call fluff or filler material — truly a welcome surprise for a non-fiction book. Brenna, who has degrees in psychology and social work, calls her narrative a “research memoir.” Her passion for evidence-based information really shows in the way she included research results and additional data from other books, all of which are meticulously cited and referenced. Overall, Feminist in Pink strikes a nice balance between a personal journal and an academic treatise, a perfect demonstration that seemingly contradictory things can exist at the same time.
Brenna’s writing is also fraught with paradoxes. The tone is alternately serious and amusing, and the language is both technical and accessible — and sometimes profane. Who says you can’t talk about heuristics and sociotropy, “emotional sh*tstorms,” and reclaiming your virginity all in the same breath? Everything reinforces Brenna’s idea of “living in a world of ‘ands,’ not ‘buts.’”
I would have given Feminist in Pink the full score, were it not for some editing (e.g., spelling inconsistencies) and formatting (e.g., italicization of words) issues. There’s a lot of cleaning up left to do in these areas, so 3 out of 4 stars is my final rating. More mature readers will perhaps relate better to Brenna’s experiences, but anyone who wishes to delve into the feminist mindset will find this “research memoir” an informative read.
Feminist in Pink
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