A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF Book Review
How do you review a book you have no business reviewing? A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF, by Drs. Brittney Cooper, Chanel Craft Tanner, and Susanna Morris is one of a growing collection of girl empowerment books that offers raw honesty and complete support for Black teen girls and their allies. The inclusivity of this feminist book for teens makes it suitable for every teen (and body!) who is questioning societal norms and the patriarchy.
But as a feminist — and BIPOC, trans, queer, disabled, and nonbinary ally — I jumped at the chance to check out this feminist book for teens.
Teens, Am I Right?!
Initially, I planned to get a few teenage feminists to help me with some real-life feedback. It would be a breeze to post a review with their help.
"This teen feminist think it's great!" sounds a lot better than, "This old white mom thinks…."
But not one single teenager followed through on helping me out in time for the deadline. And why should they? Why should the cis white woman (aka me) get a free ride? Not because they weren't interested in the book or subject, but simply because I timed it wrong - school started, COVID surged, life got crazy with the holidays. The usual.
Oh, and they're not my kids — so I couldn't make them. 😉
Which had me reading this intersectional feminist book geared towards marginalized feminist teenagers and their allies cover to cover. And yes, I would have read it anyway, but now my words have more weight in this review. This is what I was trying to avoid —giving white words weight on a subject where we could benefit far more by sitting down and shutting up.
But so much of the advice and insight in this book applies to me. Decades of being told to play nice, stay skinny, look like a model, do more, be more, give more. These tropes are as ingrained in my psyche as they are in capitalistic patriarchal communities worldwide.
The bottom line is I love it and highly recommend it — both for yourself and your feminist or feminist-ally teen. Let's just hope I don't screw up explaining why.
Hey! If any of the words you've read have you confused, we've all been there. Honestly, don't worry. You're here, exploring a subject you probably never expected to be learning about, and you're doing your best to help a teenager you know. High-fives all around! The first step into anything new is always a bit scary. So just keep going and know you're doing the right thing. You got this!
If your teen:
Then this book, A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF, is for them.
While it's definitely written for and to Black teen girls, this girls empowerment book openly welcomes everybody who supports feminism and gender/identity freedom. Trans, queer, nonbinary, BIPOC, white - this book care who you are as long as you support freedom and feminism. The authors are clear that white supremacy, colorism, and the capitalistic patriarchy are all repressive means of keeping women and marginalized societies and people from being equal.
Suppose your teen needs a feminist teen book and understands that not everyone is treated equally. In that case, this book offers excellent insights, knowledge, and inspiration for walking a path towards body positivity and freedom.
Sidebar! You might be wondering: Black is capitalized, white is not. Why? Read why the Associated Press updated its guidelines around capitalizing ethnicities. To sum it up, it's because Black people have a shared history of discrimination AND culture, whereas white people, well, don't. And capitalizing the W in white just screams White Supremacy (<— see what I did with that capitalization there? It matters.) Capitalize the 'B,' not the 'w.' Moving on.
Give Me More Details
A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF is a girls empowerment book, part of a growing collection of feminist books for teens that focuses on introducing profound concepts surrounding identity and feminism in a connective, we-got-your-back way.
Drs. Cooper, Craft Tanner, and Morris wrote this book for "everybody feminist — trans girls, cis girls, girls with disabilities, BIPOC girls, queer girls, working girls, nonbinary folx, and our non-girl allies."
Translation: If you have a budding feminist — or teen questioning their gender and identity —this is a fantastic empowerment book to add to their collection.
This is one book that doesn't discriminate. The underlying theme is to get a crew together who will support you as you learn, grow, and question society and your role in it.
One of my favorite lines in the book is, "Have you ever heard the 'prayer' Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white boy?" - page 30
HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT?! It's just so true. We breed boys as risk-takers and challengers while training girls to sit down and shut up. Anyone that has been to middle school knows that.
A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF addresses common stereotypes and breaks down where they came from and why they need to change. It's a breath of fresh air, delivered with snappy comments and tons of helpful links for body and identity positive influencers to follow, books to read, podcasts to listen to, and documentaries to watch.
Let's Talk Language & Triggers
This book is brutally honest but no more so than what's likely going through your teen's mind and social media feeds at this very moment. Hopefully, your teen already has a supportive crew, but if they're struggling, this book will give them some hope.
Support and good friends are out there, waiting to be discovered.
Yes, there's some language, but I'm betting your teen is well-versed in it already. But it's not written for you, Mom/Dad/teacher, but for your teen struggling with identity, confidence, and essential topics.
They cheer, swear, cry, educate, inspire, and promote feminists and their allies, all the while keeping it real and not wasting any time.
Exploring girlhood and body image stereotypes and how these are fundamental ways to keep women and marginalized identities from taking more power make this a powerful introduction to intersectional feminism.
Also, the authors do a great job of warning readers of potential triggers, offering enough detail to know if you need to skip ahead or keep reading.
It's a win. Buy it. A Guide To Crushing Girlhood: Feminist AF is meant for anyone who has looked at the people "in charge" and thought, get the hell out of here— you don't look, feel, or act anything like me.
This book is for anyone who rolls their eyes when the white guy in the room "decides" something needs to be done a certain way and gets his way. Every time.
It's for everyone who agrees or is catching on to the fact that the capitalistic patriarchy (basically white men running everything) is meant to keep rich white guys in charge.
Let me be clear: This book is not about how much your white dad/teacher/boss/brother/classmate sucks, but instead how your teen can recognize, and do their part to change, an unjust system.
Whew, that's a lot to unpack.
The book gives the reader the phrases, definitions, support, and ideas for challenging traditional roles and biases in society. It offers teenagers the inspiration and tools to move confidently in a direction that meets their —perhaps unspoken—needs.
A great example is when they discuss the nursery rhyme about girls being sugar, spice, and everything excellent. If a girl is deemed too bossy, she's a bitch. If a boy is dictatorial, he's usually "commanding" or "a natural-born leader."
If your teen is a feminist or an ally questioning their own power, identity, place in the world, and/or the political and social structures around them. In that case, this is a great book to get them.
A Feminist Book For Teens and Every Ally
There's a saying that feels like it's been around forever. Maybe you've heard it:
Those who can't do, teach.
Cooper, Craft Tanner, and Morris prove this trope is, beyond any doubt, a load of bull.
These women do it all - innovate, create, teach, and lead. And you can't ask for a better teacher than someone who has not only the real-life experience but leads with the confidence and the hipness of your friend's cool aunt.