A fascinating exploration of how we 'do' gender. From the early labeling of infants to the ironclad enforcement of grooming and interpersonal behavior, gender expression is neither a matter of biological mandate nor individual choice. Emer O'Toole nimbly weaves philosophy and personal experience into a vivid depiction of gender identity as performance art.
The blogger and columnist, who is emerging as one of the leading lights of the new feminism, uses anecdotes from her own life - from 'cross-dressing to pube-growing and full-body waxing' - to illuminate some of the the dos and don'ts for women trying to set themself free from gender stereotypes.
A witty, engaging appeal for everybody to stop conforming so rigidly to gender stereotypes.... As this thoughtful, funny book reminds us, being a girl can mean a lot of things. And with luck one day women will all get to decide for themselves what that is.
An entertaining book that makes you question the conventions of gender. I expect it will attract comparisons with Caitlin Moran's How to be A Woman. Like Moran's work, I wish it could be handed out to every teenage girl as a self-esteem booster.
What I love most about Emer's writing is that she is not only able to explain complex ideas about feminist theory in a way that is engaging and relatable, but it is also really funny. If you love reading feminism which is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, this book is the obvious next step up from Caitlin Moran. Get your hands on a copy.
The book is personal, in that it's her own story of playing a different role, and it's chatty and funny and likeable, much as the author herself seems to be.
Part autobiography, part heartfelt plea to change the way we look at gender, Girls will be Girls is an excellent primer on feminist theory. Every teenage girl should be given a copy.
As a possible fourth wave of Western feminism beckons, new titles on the subject are appearing with increasing regularity. O'Toole holds her own in a crowded space, albeit one in need of a greater diversity of female voices. Her accessible approach to theory, interwoven with her chatty, self-reflective style and gender insights from an Irish perspective creates a welcome addition to the current crop of popular feminist writing.
In her excellent and eye-opening book Girls Will Be Girls, Emer O'Toole discusses the impact of the often stereotypical 'lenses' through which we see the world and the importance of examining those lenses in order to better understand our ingrained and normalised prejudice. In her book, How to Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran suggests that things would be easier if some pigeons would shit all over the glass ceiling, because we would then at least be able to see what we are dealing with. O'Toole's book performs a similar function... allowing us to see clearly the boundaries that are often invisible and unquestioned... A witty, pacy and exhilirating lesson in beginning to colour outside the lines.
Girls will be Girls is a funny and compelling read, combining fascinating, relatable storytelling with meticulous research and real practical advice for challenging patriarchal gender roles in your own small, large, thin, fat, feminine, masculine, hairy, unhairy way (and anything and everything in between!)
O'Toole follows the personal example set by Caitlin Moran to such powerful effect, as she explores through anecdote and recollections from childhood and adolescence a powerful concept familiar to those who have studies feminist theory since the 1970s: the notion of one's gender as a performance, a construction that can be altered.
A hilarious, honest and probing journey through what it means to be female, from haircutting to sexual discovery.
Girls Will be Girls is bloody amazing, so go and read it right now.