Body Work & Girlhood by Melissa Febos
Oh @melissafebos how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Over such a dark weekend for women, I dived into the revered professor’s most recent bestselling books, Girlhood and Body Work & they were a salve for my soul.
Shame. Trauma. Childhood. Patriarchy. Expectations. Social Injustice. Being the “Other”. Female Pleasure. Historic misogyny. Psychology. The etymology of language (sl*t & witch as prime examples). LGBTQ+ rights. Creativity. Love. Protest. The Male Gaze – some of the themes explored with intimacy, strength & striking honesty. Both have stories, reflections on culture & anecdotes that add colour & substance to her ideas.
In award winning Girlhood, Febos considers her adolescence & the “insidious ways the patriarchy conditions us to discipline ourselves”. These 7 essays blend investigative reporting & memoir, acting as an ideological call to arms. She interviews others on suffered prejudice & writes with sharp insight & compelling intellect, the grey area within consent is a particularly thought provoking strand running through the pages.
Febos takes heavy topics & injects a wry wit, quick pace & hope in autonomy that makes this hugely readable. @oprahsays every woman should read Girlhood. She’s right.
Body Work, The Radical Power of Personal Narrative is a love letter to readers & writers. Drawing on her life, from addict & dominatrix to Harvard night school, she challenges the denigration of female, minority & victim experience in literature. “The resistance to memoirs about trauma is a resistance to movement for social justice. Those who benefit from a dominant power structure want art that represents them, reinforces the status quo – the genius of social conditioning”.
She presents writing & reading as a way to heal, a freeing tool of protest. Irreverently creating a guide for writers that is interesting for everyone, she comments on privilege & urges for a liberation of literature from its classist, hierarchal foundations.
Buy these books. Free your mind – Chaya