Published May 2016 by Hatchette Books
Source: purchased for my Nook
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible--like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you--writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.
Last year I kicked off the year with some Caitlyn Moran. It felt like the perfect way to start the year; and, I must say, it kind of inspired me to be more vocal, to make my voice heard. If we are Facebook friends, you may have gotten quite tired of it. I decided starting the year with feminism again would be a good idea.
Do you know Lindy West? West has been very active on the internet and has even appeared a couple of times on one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life. But I had never heard of her. Which may have been a good thing going into this book. I had no preconceived notions nor did I have any idea that so much of it was going to resonate so strongly with me.
"...when you're a fat person, you can't hide your vulnerability, because you are it and it is you. Being fat is like walking around with a sandwich board that says, "HERE'S WHERE TO HURT ME!"West put into words so much of what I've felt in my life. She spent most of her life feeling bad about her weight, being made to feel bad about her weight. And then she started to get mad.
"America's monomaniacal fixation on female thinness isn't a distant abstraction...it is a constant, pervasive taint that warps every single woman's life. 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 save 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."West is angry about the world treating women as second-class citizens. I mean, she uses A LOT of caps! But she is also extremely funny, and vulnerable (in the good way!), and honest. It's not a perfect book; as with all collections, some pieces are stronger than others. But I loved this book; it gave me all of the feels. Plus, I'm really pissed these days about the way our culture treats the most vulnerable of its citizens but West gives me hope knowing that there are loud women out there fighting the good fight.
"My little victories - trolls [the internet variety], rape jokes, fat people's humanity - are world-building. Fighting for diverse voices is world-building. Proclaiming the inherent value of fat people is world-building. Believing rape victims is world-building. Voting is world-building. So is kindness, compassion, listening, making space, saying yes, saying no. We're all building our world, right now, in real time. Let's build it better."