I have finally found a book that explains feminism and presents it an updated manner appropriate for middle schoolers.
I was hooked on this book as soon as I opened it. Instead of beginning with an introduction to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton or an explanation of what the word means, this book begins by setting the stage just prior to second wave feminism.
It describes a woman giving birth in a hospital- Mrs. Doe. Her name was changed when she married. Of course. And the baby will also receive the name Doe, because children always have their father's name. Of course. And the nurses in the hospital do not address her by her first name- Jane- they call her Mrs. Doe. Of course. Because being a Mrs. and a mother is her entire identity, and no one thinks to question it.
The book doesn't waste any time, and swiftly moves to an introduction to Betty Friedan. No offense to Susan and Elizabeth, but by middle school, alot of students are tired of reading about those two serious looking ladies in the long dresses. They need a fresh perspective on what women's rights mean, and how they apply to the 20th and 21st centuries. They already know that women had to fight for the right to vote and own property. But many of them still don't seem to grasp that when a woman gets married, she can be a Mrs. or a Ms. She can change her name, or hyphenate two last names, or simply keep her own. I have first hand experience trying to explain (not just to kids either) that even though I am married, I am still a Ms.
The book doesn't mince words either. It discusses sexual identity, rape culture, pornography and even forced sterilization.
It's timely in its discussion of gender identity, specifically Caitlyn Jenner's recent transformation, but it's not just about the pop culture tabloid issues; there is also a section on breastfeeding controversies, pointing out that in the notoriously repressed Victorian era, breastfeeding was often done in public simply because that's how most babies were fed, whereas now there is sometimes a public backlash towards nursing mothers.