Book cover found on lindywest.com
By Michelle Gaudet
“In a certain light, feminism is just the long, slow realization that the stuff you love hates you.”
What we are reading: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
About the author: Lindy West is a writer, editor, and performer from Seattle whose work focuses on pop culture, social justice, humour, and body image. She is a columnist at The Guardian and contributes to This American Life. Her work has appeared in Jezebel, The Stranger, and GQ.
The main idea: Lindy West has been a part of pop culture discourse for several years, writing in various places about the misogyny of rape jokes in comedy and being a self-proclaimed “fat girl.” Part memoir and part cultural analysis, each essay in Shrill takes us through an aspect of her life that feels universal through her conversational tone and wit. The book is a hysterical commentary on being a funny woman in an industry that refuses to admit women are funny. It’s about being a large woman in a world that refuses to be believe she doesn’t want to be smaller. It’s about being kind and standing up for yourself in an industry where Internet trolls attack on all fronts.
Take aways: Lindy West – and her editor – deserve all the praise for the pacing of this book. The first chapter is the weakest, with the worst jokes. Then, through embarrassing stories and real-talks about period shaming, you grow to love her and her joke delivery. By the middle of the book, you respect her; by the end, you are raising your freaking feminist sword with her and writing a book review about what a great human she is. Disclaimer: by the third chapter you will yell-laugh in the lunchroom at work.
West hits on countless feminist topics in this book, from being happy in her plus-size body, to taking down comedians making rape jokes. But for me, the most resonant of all was how she humanized the issues in her essays. She makes her personal experiences feel universal, and writes with bracing vulnerability considering the attacks she receives for her work. West is openhearted and forgiving, rooted in kindness. From loving herself first, to fighting off male comedians who refused to see harmful rape jokes as such, Lindy West speaks up with intelligence, a clear head, and a lot of fury.
Shrill takes back a word used to describe over-emotional women. Women are told not to be shrill, to be polite, to apologize, to calm down, to relax. Lindy West didn’t listen, I’m not listening. And we’re not going to start.
Michelle Gaudet is an SFU communication grad, a bibliophile running out of shelf space, and a wizard. She is happiest when reading outdoors, listening to country music, and finding new podcasts.