A collection that aims to turn feminism’s gaze away from an agenda largely set by privileged white women.
In an eloquent and searing introduction, debut editor Eric-Udorie—an undergraduate at Duke University who was named Elle UK’s Female Activist of the Year in 2017—takes white feminists to task for ignoring the stories, suffering, goals, and power of “women of color, disabled women, queer women, trans women, poor women, and other marginalized groups.” The essays that follow examine everything from films about trans people to the death of Sandra Bland to body hair. Novelist Brit Bennett contributes an especially lyrical piece about the body-spirit dualism she learned as a young black girl in church. British journalist Aisha Gani offers a brilliant reading of the portrayal of Muslim women on TV (“a Muslim woman should not be newsworthy only if she is the first visibly Muslim woman in a particular field”). Several writers consider how political issues not always thought of as feminist problems—e.g., British immigration policy, cuts to Medicaid, the highly flawed American prison system—would look if seen through a feminist lens. One of the most incisive essays is by Frances Ryan, a columnist for the Guardian. She criticizes the way that disability typically features in abortion-rights discourse about abortion, discourse in which the prospect of being forced to raise a disabled child is held up as a specter of ghastliness meant to convince the likes of Phyllis Schlafly that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. This line of reasoning, Ryan notes, bolsters a cultural script in which disability is “something to be avoided at all costs.” She also argues that a feminist approach to reproductive rights that took disability seriously would include a fight to protect the rights of disabled women to raise children.
Eric-Udorie calls to mind a young Audre Lorde, and her anthology feels like a 21st-century version of This Bridge Called My Back.