Allison: Sexy Feminism | Jennifer Keishin Armstrong & Heather Wood Rudulph | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Allison: Sexy Feminism | Jennifer Keishin Armstrong & Heather Wood Rudulph | Book ReviewSexy Feminism by Jennifer Keishin ArmstrongHeather Wood Rudúlph
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2013
Genres: Family & Relationships, Feminism & Feminist Theory, Friendship, General, Health & Fitness, Personal Growth, Self-Help, Social Science, Success, Women's Health
Pages: 228
Source: Publisher

Not your mother’s feminism! A humor-filled action plan for an accessible, cool, and, yes, even sexy brand of 21st-century feminismFeminism can still seem like an abstract idea that is hard to incorporate into our hectic, modern lives, but Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudúlph show how the everyday things really matter. In an age when concern-trolling, slut-shaming, and body-snarking are blogosphere bywords, when reproductive rights are back under political attack, and when women are constantly pressured to “have it all,” feminism is more relevant than ever.

For many young women the radicalism of the Second Wave is unappealing, and the “do me” and “lipstick” feminism of the Third Wave feels out of date. Enter Sexy Feminism. It’s an inclusive, approachable kind of feminism—miniskirts, lip gloss, and waxing permitted. Covering a range of topics from body issues and workplace gender politics to fashion, dating, and sex, Sexy Feminism is full of advice, resources, and pop culture references that will help shape what being a feminist can look like for you.

I was intrigued when I came across the title of Sexy Feminism on Netgalley a couple of months ago. It seemed to almost be a perfect fit for me as I had been looking for something new and different but also something that would reflect the things that I had received an education in. According to the brief synopsis, this was “not your mother’s feminism”, and instead was an offering of a brand new feminism. One that was more accessible, cool, and sexy. I wasn’t exactly sure what was to be meant by that but I was definitely interested in finding out.

I have to admit that I have had to read a lot of feminist literature throughout my schooling. I’ve read some of the “classics” as well as some of the more new works. I’ve also read articles in feminist based magazines such as Ms. Magazine, and I’ve had to do several different research papers so my opinion of what I was reading. I really did try to enjoy it especially since it came across in a very conversational tone and was relatively easy to read. Authors Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph do a really good job of making what they are discussing relatable. They curse, they tell personal stories, and they don’t dumb things down too much for the reader. Oh, and the snark is abundant, believe me!

I guess in a way the fact that Sexy Feminism is very simplistic makes it very approachable and will make it a decent introductory feminist novel. It is useful in a sense that it gives you a lot of background information on many practices that are seen as normal for women now such as plastic surgery, waxing, and make up. Each chapter has a set of very clear points that the authors stick with in order to explain if what they are discussing can be seen as feminist or not. Yet, I still felt like I was always waiting for something more.

There is SO much more to feminism than love, success, and style. These are not the most important issues that an individual should be dealing with. I’m not saying that these issues may not be important to others but to me not so much. I’m more the equality part, and the dismantling of patriarchy personally. But I can see how a viewpoint like this would be refreshing to some, and that is why I said that this book might make a decent introductory feminist novel. Is it really helping in my opinion? Not so much. Also, as eye catching as the title might be, I can’t help but wonder if that is one of the biggest flaws of the entire book. I mean, if you have to fully describe something as “sexy” in order to make it interesting to an audience, is it worth it? Or are you just buying into the preconceived guidelines that you are trying to break down?

For me, feminism is something that is still very much necessary in our society. There are still so many things that need to be broken down, fixed, and changed in order for our society to become a better environment for all. And for me, feminism does not need the label of sexiness in order for these things to be accomplished. In fact, in many ways I feel that a label such as that will only hurt the cause, and will help further marginalize us in the eyes of a patriarchal society. For some, Sexy Feminism may be a good introductory feminist text but, it should NOT be the only one. There are many other texts which will help provide a full well rounded feminist learning experience. I encourage you to research them and check them out!

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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. It’s interesting that a so-called feminist book is using a woman’s lush lips on the cover, as if something as wonderfully sexy as a female mouth – with lots of shiny lipstick on – is what would attract young woman who ‘need’ to learn more about feminism. It looks like a lot of the publicities where women are always sexualized to sell whatever it is the publicity is selling.

    Thanks for a great review – I probably won’t be getting this one, I’ll rather re-read some of the classics.

  2. I haven’t read much feminist literature although I definitely define myself as feminist and I was so disappointed with this. It was so simplistic and I don’t think it has much to offer. I really like the quote from the review on Wrapped Up in Books as I don’t think this book would be worth buying either.

  3. OK, so I sort of impulse requested this one on NetGalley because I was so excited to see something about feminism on there, LOL. If I had stopped to think, I could have realized all the problematic things, from the cover to having to describing things as “sexy”, as you point out.

    It sounds like we had similar education, and of course, this isn’t going to be on any women or gender studies syllabus anytime soon it sounds like. However, I think I was expecting something worse, so at least it sounds like a fairly good primer to SOME aspects of feminism.

    I’m still going to try it out, but not sure if I’ll get all the way through now. Great review and analysis Allison!


  1. […] Allison reviews Sexy Feminism and finds it lacking. […]