4 out of 4 stars
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When most people hear the word, “feminist,” it is usually associated with a negative meaning. It is common to see feminism depicted as women who are entitled and delusional individuals. In other words, there are many people who don’t understand what feminism truly is or the positives behind the word. In Judy Juanita’s DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland, she uses her personal narrative to educate readers on what it means to be a writer, a black woman, and a feminist in America.
DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland is a non-fiction book filled with the author’s essays, poems and letters that all work to complement the narrative well. In the novel, the author talks about her experiences growing up from a young girl straight out of Oakland, to a member of the Black Panther Party. She addresses a wide range of topics that many shy away from such as, the “N” word, guns, single motherhood, and the most pertinent topic, feminism. She also writes about her struggles with her career and writing, which many readers will find themselves being able to relate to.
In the book, the text was well paced and the author didn’t just jump from one subject to another. I found myself interested in the novel as the author wrote in a way that would demand any reader’s attention. I loved the rawness of the narrative. The book carries powerful messages that I feel any reader, no matter their background, can relate to. I would say that the book definitely caters more to a female audience though. The reason is because the theme of women empowerment is strong in the narrative.
The author mentions the challenges that come with not simply being a black woman, but a woman in America. With all the stereotypes and gender inequalities, women are always stuck between peace and war in their own communities. The author not only addresses this fact, but she offers hope through her own personal stories. She allows readers a view into her life and we see her handle divorce and becoming a single parent to her son. Readers also see her triumph as she is able to sell her plays and books.
The author uses her own narrative to empower and enlighten readers. This book enlightens readers as they read about her time as a member of the Black Panther Party. It's interesting to read the author's perspective as she spoke of her role and the overall beliefs of the group. She also empowers readers as she writes about different women who paved the way for other women. Women who are viewed as the "under dogs" of society such as single mothers or women from challenging backgrounds, are showcased in a positive light. The author makes sure that through the text, her readers can feel uplifted and many will begin to understand what a feminist truly is.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. If I had to give a negative, it would be that there were some parts of the book that just seemed like filler material. I had to force myself to read the entire novel and not just skip to the author’s essays or personal stories about her life. For the most part, I felt this book was a powerful read. The book addresses some heavy topics, but it was well written and each topic had something that can be learned from it. I would recommend this book to a female audience, whether they refer to themselves as a feminist or not. This book is empowering, raw, enlightening and I feel it could be a great benefit to its readers.
DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland
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