Recently I picked up a new book by the feminist youth work collective, Feminist Webs. The Exciting Life of Being a Woman: A Handbook for Women and Girls is a riposte to the rather dreary offerings that can be found in some UK bookshops which provide a nostalgic, new take on the 1950’s children’s annuals which offered a range of sports, crafts and facts to equip young boys with the skills and knowledge to be appropriately ‘boyish’. The equivalent popular books for girls again provide range of appropriate normative gendered ideas and activities.
Funded by the Young Roots grant programme, this new book is described as a ‘feminist survival manual you wish you had read as a teenager’. Chapters include: Resilience, Her story, Riot, Don’t diet, and ‘Politically correct’ or just plain correct’, which perhaps gives the casual reader a taste of the broader explicitly second wave feminist flavour of the text. It reminded me of a scrapbook of ideas. Indeed, on many pages there are spaces for readers to add their notes, ideas and drawings. I was also touched to see archival posters reproduced from the Lancashire Youth Service feminist girls work activity that I had been involved with as a teen girl in the 1980s. Initially, I was not too sure who this collection is aimed at –perhaps existing feminist educators, young women, youth workers, teachers, the future feminist or all of these? Perhaps a clear ‘target market’ is immaterial. After all, I am so very happy that books such as this can be funded and published, and its very quirkiness draws me in to revisit this accessible, inspiring, and curious collection of thoughts, archive material and practical activities which would be of interest to anyone involved in feminist research, practice or activism with young people of all genders.
Fin Cullen, Brunel University