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Can We All Be Feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism

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Why do some women struggle to identify as feminists, despite their commitment to gender equality? How do other aspects of our identities - such as race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and more - impact how we relate to feminism? Why is intersectionality so important? In challenging, incisive, and fearless essays - all of which appear here for the first time - sevente Why do some women struggle to identify as feminists, despite their commitment to gender equality? How do other aspects of our identities - such as race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and more - impact how we relate to feminism? Why is intersectionality so important? In challenging, incisive, and fearless essays - all of which appear here for the first time - seventeen writers from diverse backgrounds wrestle with these questions, and more. A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all. Including essays by: Soofiya Andry, Gabrielle Bellot, Caitlin Cruz, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Brit Bennett, Evette Dionne, Aisha Gani, Afua Hirsch, Juliet Jacques, Wei Ming Kam, Mariya Karimjee, Eishar Kaur, Emer O’Toole, Frances Ryan, Zoé Samudzi, Charlotte Shane, and Selina Thompson


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Why do some women struggle to identify as feminists, despite their commitment to gender equality? How do other aspects of our identities - such as race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and more - impact how we relate to feminism? Why is intersectionality so important? In challenging, incisive, and fearless essays - all of which appear here for the first time - sevente Why do some women struggle to identify as feminists, despite their commitment to gender equality? How do other aspects of our identities - such as race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and more - impact how we relate to feminism? Why is intersectionality so important? In challenging, incisive, and fearless essays - all of which appear here for the first time - seventeen writers from diverse backgrounds wrestle with these questions, and more. A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all. Including essays by: Soofiya Andry, Gabrielle Bellot, Caitlin Cruz, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Brit Bennett, Evette Dionne, Aisha Gani, Afua Hirsch, Juliet Jacques, Wei Ming Kam, Mariya Karimjee, Eishar Kaur, Emer O’Toole, Frances Ryan, Zoé Samudzi, Charlotte Shane, and Selina Thompson

30 review for Can We All Be Feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    I absolutely loved this essay collection. Illuminating, uncomfortable, important, and the epitome of intersectional. Each essay broadened my perspective and taught me something new. This was absolutely another case where I feel like I nearly highlighted the whole thing, there was just so much to take away. I definitely recommend this for anyone who calls themself a feminist.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    This is a very helpful collection in defining the scope of intersectional feminism. The concept of intersectionality has been bubbling up to "mainstream feminism" for the last 5 years or so, but has really started to be seen & heard in the Trump era. I really appreciated having a single volume provide so much clarity as to exactly WHAT we're talking about with respect to intersectionality- for instance, I really appreciated having "immigrant" added to my thinking about intersectional feminis This is a very helpful collection in defining the scope of intersectional feminism. The concept of intersectionality has been bubbling up to "mainstream feminism" for the last 5 years or so, but has really started to be seen & heard in the Trump era. I really appreciated having a single volume provide so much clarity as to exactly WHAT we're talking about with respect to intersectionality- for instance, I really appreciated having "immigrant" added to my thinking about intersectional feminism re:race or nationality. I really liked the essay on fat feminism, in particular. I do think some of the arguments in here are a little flat; however, I suspect this is mostly because this is still an emerging area to be formally explored (at least in recent years- the authors do a great job of raising up voices from throughout the history of feminism to show just how long these issues have been raised & ignored). Would definitely recommend for anyone interested in expanding their understanding of intersectionality- this is such an important conversation as we move towards more freedom, fairness, justice, equality, etc. for EVERYONE

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    Utterly brilliant!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    A really stellar collection. Highly recommended!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

    This is a lot, but it gave me so, so much to think about from so many different points of view.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    LOVED this collection. So thoughtfully written and thought-provoking. A great primer for intersectional feminism, and also helpful for continued learning. Not too theory heavy and I learned a lot.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ylenia

    [ 4.5 stars ] This collection of essays was extremely enlightening & a very timely read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana Portwood

    I am a white woman of privilege who has only recently learned to question established systems of power for their inherent racism. I am also a woman who has suffered misogyny, abuse, fear, and shame because of my gender. This book met me at the intersectionality of these two truths and showed me how far I have traveled, and how very far I have yet to go to better advocate for all women and to be a better human in general. I believe we can't help where and how we are born, but we can help whether I am a white woman of privilege who has only recently learned to question established systems of power for their inherent racism. I am also a woman who has suffered misogyny, abuse, fear, and shame because of my gender. This book met me at the intersectionality of these two truths and showed me how far I have traveled, and how very far I have yet to go to better advocate for all women and to be a better human in general. I believe we can't help where and how we are born, but we can help whether or not we choose to stay blind to systems which oppress, which promote injustice and which dehumanize people groups. I have been proud to call myself a feminist without seeking to understand women whose life experience is very different from mine. I am glad this brave book was written so that we can better understand a bit more about each other, and the ways we inadvertently, or worse, intentionally exclude the very people we claim to advocate for. This is an important book for anyone who wants to better understand the richness and beauty of the lives of the diverse people all around us. Ours is not the only narrative.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Niamh

    Especially with feminism, I want a book to teach me something. I want it to open me up to some new perspectives, particularly one that due to my own upbringing and the inherent privileges I'm afforded due to my race/class/sexuality/gender/ability etc. And this slim collection of essays from a variety of amazing and intelligent people definitely taught me something with each different perspective. This is, in its purest form, an excellent book. It pushes intersectionality right to the forefront o Especially with feminism, I want a book to teach me something. I want it to open me up to some new perspectives, particularly one that due to my own upbringing and the inherent privileges I'm afforded due to my race/class/sexuality/gender/ability etc. And this slim collection of essays from a variety of amazing and intelligent people definitely taught me something with each different perspective. This is, in its purest form, an excellent book. It pushes intersectionality right to the forefront of the feminist debate, with many of the writers weaving personal experiences into their essays. Whether they're discussing bisexuality and the Catholic church in Latin America, how feminism often ignores disabled women, how black women are seen in the US, in Europe and in the UK, how transgender rights and non-binary rights are ignored by popular feminism, it's done so in such an eloquent manner that you have to sit up and listen. My favourite essay was by Afua Hirsch, a black British woman who wrote the book 'Brit-Ish: On Race, Identity and Belonging', where she spoke actively about being sought after as 'the voice' for whether children can dress up as non-white characters for Halloween. She made a mention to another essay where a writer discussed the problematic nature of white people dressing up like Moana, and it really struck me as important, especially as I know white people who have done exactly that. This is an amazing book, and I highly recommend that people go out and buy it, read it and check that intersectionality is a key part of their feminism.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlott

    4,5/5 Barbara Smith, in an interview in How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (2017), said : "What we were saying is that we have a right as people who are not just female, who are not solely Black, who are not just lesbians, who are not just working class, or workers - that we are people who embody all of these identities, and we have a right to build and define political theory and practice based upon that reality." That sentiment also finds itself in the new anthol 4,5/5 Barbara Smith, in an interview in How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (2017), said : "What we were saying is that we have a right as people who are not just female, who are not solely Black, who are not just lesbians, who are not just working class, or workers - that we are people who embody all of these identities, and we have a right to build and define political theory and practice based upon that reality." That sentiment also finds itself in the new anthology Can We All Be Feminists?: Seventeen Writers on Intersectionality, Identity and Finding the Right Way Forward for Feminism, edited by just twenty-years-old writer and activist June Eric-Udorie. These wonderful essay - by writers such as Gabrielle Bellot, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Afua Hirsch, and many more - tackle a width of topics while the different authors describe their relationships to (Mainstream) feminism, the exclusions they experience(d), and the feminism(s) they aspire to. A prevalent topic is migration and the many experiences which come with it for many of the authors are children of migrants or have migrated themselves, mostly from Carribean, African, and Asian countries to the UK or USA. As with most anthologies, I did not find every text equally satisfying to read. For a book so inclined on putting intersectional analysis front and centre, I was surprised about some rather cis-normative writing on reproductive rights in some texts (while others showed how you can write about the topic without perpetuating the idea that women = vagina and uterus). Also at times, I wished for more links to and deeper engagement with earlier conceptual, theoretical, and activist works (especially going beyond the naming of Kimberly Crenshaw). But these critical points aside, I would highly recommend the book. I feel it might make a great book for many different readers: people who want to get into feminism, people who want to broaden their ideas, and people who will find themselves reflected in this multi-faceted anthology.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aubrie

    This book is very self-explanatory, it's an anthology of essays about intersectional feminism. I think everyone could benefit from reading this, especially since what we see about feminism in the media is often streamlined to fit a very narrow point of view. Because these essays are written by a group of very diverse women, we can better understand that feminism shouldn't be limited to one box. The essays range from things like body diversity, ableism, racism, abortion, homophobia, transphobia, i This book is very self-explanatory, it's an anthology of essays about intersectional feminism. I think everyone could benefit from reading this, especially since what we see about feminism in the media is often streamlined to fit a very narrow point of view. Because these essays are written by a group of very diverse women, we can better understand that feminism shouldn't be limited to one box. The essays range from things like body diversity, ableism, racism, abortion, homophobia, transphobia, immigration, and more. And the reason mainstream feminism fails others is because it does not include these things. As an example, someone may claim they are a feminists, but because they may have certain privileges they may forget to fight for those who have little to none to begin with. As a feminist, I believe that to be empowered, we must fight for and therefore empower others. But as a feminist, I also feel that the media does us a great disservice when it comes to spreading the right kind of information. I never thought to do research on what is talked about in these essays because I had no idea that these things happened. One example was the information about immigration and how many countries don't want women to immigrate on their own because it doesn't help the economy since there is a wage gap. There is one thing I struggle to agree with when it comes to feminism, and that is religion. In one essay, a woman talks about her struggle with being bisexual and Catholic. Personally I don't think any groups benefit from religion, especially feminism. I grew up knowing both Catholicism and Evangelism, and I know how controlling and abusive they are. I don't think religion should have any place in feminism except for us to have it dismantled. I always feel like the books I've read about feminism are only starters or introductions. This book isn't much different. I definitely think there are more feminist issues that need to be covered. And while this book talked about ableism, homophobia, etc., I think it's only the smallest taste. We can talk all day about the wrongs inflicted upon us, but I haven't read a book yet that can answer the question: How exactly do we solve it? Some simple solutions are offered such as showing up to marches, but is that really the only way? How do we reach out to our government officials? How do we get people to vote? How do we find and sign the right petitions? What groups or charities would benefit from volunteers or a donation? Where do we go when we need help? These are just some of the sort of questions I would like answered. Overall, I think you should read this regardless of who you are. If you are new to feminism it's a great introduction, and even if you've been in the good fight for a while I guarantee you'll learn something new.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robin Morgan

    I read this inspiring book about womanhood and the feminists who are fighting a struggle for their gender thanks to my good neighbor and “sister” who allowed me to read it on her KINDLE before she did. What woman doesn’t know the 1971 song by Helen Reddy “I Am Woman”? This song, is a song which celebrates female empowerment and became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement. We need to remember that this movement has been a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism I read this inspiring book about womanhood and the feminists who are fighting a struggle for their gender thanks to my good neighbor and “sister” who allowed me to read it on her KINDLE before she did. What woman doesn’t know the 1971 song by Helen Reddy “I Am Woman”? This song, is a song which celebrates female empowerment and became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement. We need to remember that this movement has been a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism. The problem for some, I feel, is that this branch of what can be described as being profound feminism which has its basis in present-day thinking by women from a broad spectrum of diverse cultural, economic, and racial backgrounds to lift themselves up from being merely a second-class society member. And, if wasn’t for these feminists where would womankind be today. However, I feel that according to an on-line definition of “Intersectionality”: It is not a property of a particular school of feminism. Intersectional feminism is a comprehensive social justice doctrine somewhat inspired by feminist ideology and which has adopted much of its terminology from feminism, but is itself not feminism. But these days, with the ongoing struggle for gender equality, the diversified classifications of who women are, creates a conflict for those who called themselves a feminist. The beauty that I found in reading this marvelous, rather somewhat revolutionary ideological book whose intention is to promote the too often overlook voices of women today, to be inspirational for feminists everywhere. And it’s through the 17 essays contained in this anthology, written by 17 authors with highly diversified backgrounds and how they deal with the myriad of issues surrounding feminists and their movement, that readers are almost guaranteed a change in their perception of themselves and hopefully will teach its readers something they never knew before regarding feminism itself. In the end, the burning question for all feminists everywhere is whether this book will, with the all the paraphernalia it is giving its readers, as well as a renewed assessment of what being a true feminist is for them, be enough to recreate feminism into something which will truthfully befits what it should be for today and for all of today’s women. Only time will tell what the ultimate outcome would be, and hopefully, I’d love to see it happen; which is why I’ve given the book’s marvelous, insightful editor, June Eric-Udorie, 5 STARS, for having diligently compiled all the essays it contains. And hopefully the words of Helen Reddy’s song will once again truly mean something.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Măriuţa

    I was very much looking forward to reading this. Started, but stopped dead in my tracks during the intro alone. The authoress chilled me to my bone with her feelings of superiority. She feels that her feminism is the only correct type of feminism and everyone else who is not doing what she does is wrong. She wastes no time in impaling white women for not picking up her cause and says "The problem with mainstream feminism, again and again, is the frivolity of the issues it is concerned with: mansp I was very much looking forward to reading this. Started, but stopped dead in my tracks during the intro alone. The authoress chilled me to my bone with her feelings of superiority. She feels that her feminism is the only correct type of feminism and everyone else who is not doing what she does is wrong. She wastes no time in impaling white women for not picking up her cause and says "The problem with mainstream feminism, again and again, is the frivolity of the issues it is concerned with: manspreading, “girl power” and female “empowerment.” She shockingly calls them 'lesser battles' not even coming close to what she's going through as an African-American, disabled, queer woman. While I agree that her problems are severe and that our society causes her to suffer needlessly on a daily basis, I must say life has taught me, as a woman, never to say others fight 'lesser battles.' Apart from that, from a writing point of view, she appeals to extreme claims just to get her point across. She says white feminists concern themselves with articles like "CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND WEAR MAKEUP?" This is an absurdist view as clearly this is not what feminism, even mainstream one is all about. A few pages later, I am confused as she speaks about intersectionality, but fails to be so herself, all in a very tone deaf paragraph. "white feminists (...) Do these so-called feminists ever stop to consider the fact that there are women who can’t even get through the door—whether because of racism, fatphobia, homophobia, or transphobia—let alone into the boardroom?" She seems to labor under the impression that all white, mainstream feminists are women, skinny, straight, and have no bigger problems than makeup and manspreading. And i am sitting here reading this shocked. Major fail on other two accounts - no men exist in her world. As if there are no feminist men. Where is your equality and intersectionality now? Secondly, without being ageist, this absolutely comes across as the point of view of a 20 yo (which she is) freshly off her teenage years who thinks her personal problems are the biggest thing in the world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Once in a while, I come across a book that gives me plenty of food for thought. Can We All Be Feminists was one of them. It put how I felt about feminism into words. I have always identified as a feminist since I was little. However, during these past years, I felt like feminism failed me. I felt like it was focusing on trifling things. And I felt somehow uneasy to identify with the movement I used to admired and felt proud to support. This book somehow helped me reconcile with feminism by layin Once in a while, I come across a book that gives me plenty of food for thought. Can We All Be Feminists was one of them. It put how I felt about feminism into words. I have always identified as a feminist since I was little. However, during these past years, I felt like feminism failed me. I felt like it was focusing on trifling things. And I felt somehow uneasy to identify with the movement I used to admired and felt proud to support. This book somehow helped me reconcile with feminism by laying the foundation of how feminism should be transformed. This book put intersectionality at the centre of feminism debate by presenting different perspectives. Weaving personal experiences into their essays, various writers talk about issues that mainstream feminism fails to tackle. They discuss how feminism ignores disability, transgender women, imperialist nostalgia, deviant bodies, immigration, and more... This book really broadened my perspective and made me recognize the privileges I have inherited due to my class/sexuality/gender/ability etc. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone as it was written by different women from various background and it helps to understand that feminism should not be limited to one box.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A good comprehensive and intersectional (as oft referenced) book of essays looking at feminism from varied viewpoints from the body to whiteness (which is also oft referenced and some essays explore this more distinctly than others) to insular feminism to religion & feminism to expectation. Eric-Udorie did a good job of gaining voices that represent the transgender, disabled, queer, and Black/brown viewpoints as well as voices like Nicole Dennis-Benn and Evette Dionne speaking on how they ca A good comprehensive and intersectional (as oft referenced) book of essays looking at feminism from varied viewpoints from the body to whiteness (which is also oft referenced and some essays explore this more distinctly than others) to insular feminism to religion & feminism to expectation. Eric-Udorie did a good job of gaining voices that represent the transgender, disabled, queer, and Black/brown viewpoints as well as voices like Nicole Dennis-Benn and Evette Dionne speaking on how they came to a better and more inclusive understanding of feminism. Gabrielle Bellot's, Wei Ming Jam, Emer O'Toole, and Soofiya Andry's stuck out the most to me for their uniqueness and continually topical/relevant material that also opened my eyes further to privilege and also issues on a larger and international level.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julia Kardon

    The first anthology on feminism to tackle intersectionality, this groundbreaking collection has essays on feminist issues that are rarely discussed as feminist issues: race, class, Islam, fat, religion, sex work, disability, and more! I was particularly stunned by the nuance with which June Eric-Udorie introduces the topics, especially since she's only nineteen. (!) I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the limitations of feminism and the issues facing the movement today, partic The first anthology on feminism to tackle intersectionality, this groundbreaking collection has essays on feminist issues that are rarely discussed as feminist issues: race, class, Islam, fat, religion, sex work, disability, and more! I was particularly stunned by the nuance with which June Eric-Udorie introduces the topics, especially since she's only nineteen. (!) I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the limitations of feminism and the issues facing the movement today, particularly marginalized women who have felt left out of the feminist movement and white women who tend to overlook how the issues that face them might be different than the issues that face other women.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    This anthology has been curated and edited so thoughtfully. Articulating intersectional feminist issues through both theory and personal anecdotes, each essay grapples with the central question: can we all be feminists? Recommended reading for anyone who identifies as a feminist, providing a vital reminder of (or introduction to) all the ways in which this term is fraught for those that the movement neglects and excludes.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amirah Jiwa

    Like most essay collections, I enjoyed some pieces more than others but overall this was a great (re)introduction to intersectionality. I especially enjoyed the introduction by Eric-Udorie—it provided a concise but comprehensive overview of feminism (and the movement's shortcomings).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melinda Lewis

    Super helpful and a necessary reminder that complacency is a threat.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    This is a compelling collection of essays on intersectional feminism, calling on readers to question their privilege and consider a broader definition of feminism than has previously been offered in the mainstream discussions. This collection was timely, thought provoking, inclusive, and a prism of perspectives. I was captivated by the depth of perspectives and the honesty of the discussions. This is one of the most powerful essay collections I have read in a long time. June Eric-Udorie has asse This is a compelling collection of essays on intersectional feminism, calling on readers to question their privilege and consider a broader definition of feminism than has previously been offered in the mainstream discussions. This collection was timely, thought provoking, inclusive, and a prism of perspectives. I was captivated by the depth of perspectives and the honesty of the discussions. This is one of the most powerful essay collections I have read in a long time. June Eric-Udorie has assembled a stellar collection, and at only 20 years of age I have so much respect for what this young activist has already achieved in her career. What immediately connected me to each essay was that the authors described their first encounter with feminism, and the realization that it didn’t fit squarely with other aspects of their life. The topics that it covers have their finger on the pulse as some of the most pressing contemporary discussions ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement, Ireland's abortion referendum, to transgender women and comments made by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that have been particularly polarizing. It also looked at issues like disability, income, the body, beauty, religion, and a myriad of other considered yet emotional connections with feminism. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for an ARC of this collection (out 25 September 2018) in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ada Ezeji

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Gordon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

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