Thursday, June 29, 2017

Shrill by Lindy West

Note: This is the cover of the book I purchased but I ordered it from Book Depository so my personal copy may be the British version.

Women matter. Women are half of us. When you raise every woman to believe that we are insignificant, that we are broken, that we are sick, that the only cure is starvation and restraint and smallness; when you pit women against one another, keep us shackled by shame and hunger, obsessing over our flaws rather than our power and potential; when you leverage all of that to sap our money and our time -- that moves the rudder of the world. It steers humanity toward conservatism and walls and the narrow interests of men, and it keeps us adrift in waters where women's safety and humanity are secondary to men's pleasure and convenience. 

~p. 19

I bought Shrill by Lindy West for my personal Feminist Reading Challenge and it was an excellent choice. If someone recommended Shrill to me, I've forgotten, but thank you if you did.

Lindy West is a writer and comedian and Shrill is a pretty well-rounded look at what it's like being a woman, with special emphases on what it's like to be overweight and her personal crusade to get male comedians to stop making rape jokes, or at least understand why they're hurtful rather than funny.

I can't recall the name of the other book I read by a comedian, this year, which was also supposedly a "feminist" read but which I found more of a litany of the author's boyfriends and sex life, but I can tell you that Shrill is what I was hoping for when I picked up that other book. West is funny, sharp, and painfully honest. She really gets at the heart of being female - the frustrations, the inequities, the horror of rape culture, the judgment about bodies (even amongst women). I can't recall any other book that's made me feel quite the way this one did -- that, "I'm not alone!" sensation. I was constantly nodding and thinking, "Thank you for saying that." My only complaint is that there was a good bit of repetition about being fat and her effort to get male comedians to understand why rape jokes are offensive, not humorous -- especially to women who have experienced sexual assault (it was a hard sell). But, they're both important topics. So, I gave the book 5 stars and I plan to keep it for a reread.

Highly recommended - Lindy West started out shy and became blunt at least partly by necessity. And, what a voice she has. She is an exceptional writer - smart, candid, refreshingly honest about what it's like being a woman, in general, while also sharing her personal challenges. I'll bet she's a hoot in person but if you stepped on her toes, she'd tell you.

©2017 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I just may have to read this one. I loved the quote you shared.

    1. I hope you will, Jenny. I thought it was excellent. She can be pretty crude, though. I forgot to mention that.


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