I am a very very lucky book blogger in the fact that my bookshelves fill with free review copies from publishers. I don’t have the need to go out and buy/borrow any books, because I get a steady stream sent to me in exchange for an honest review. That being said, any bookworm worth their weight will admit that even though they have shelves full of books, they can never resist the temptation to acquire more, and I’m no different. F-Bomb by Lauren McKeon is one of the few books that I purchased in 2017 after watching her read at my local literary festival Wordfest. McKeon read a particularly compelling section about meeting an anti-feminist who adores Donald Trump (gag), and she (the author) spoke particularly well within her panel discussion, so I figured the very least I could do to support this woman was buy her book! She signed it for me too.
F-Bomb is an exploration of the anti-feminist movement. And as someone who is increasingly comfortable with identifying as a feminist myself, I was really eager to see the ‘other side of the coin’, albeit one that I find disheartening and distasteful at best. Not surprisingly, becoming a mother and having a daughter pushed me further and further into a place where it felt important to not only declare myself a feminist, but to care about women’s rights in general. And as McKeon argues, it’s important to understand the arguments opposing your own viewpoints because not only does it help inform your own opinions, but it prepares you to argue your own points more clearly when faced with opposition. This is exactly what this book does-it won’t turn anti-feminists into feminists or vice versa, but it helps us understand the other side’s perspective, regardless of who you identify with.
McKeon includes some shocking statistics in this book: “numerous studies show a man is more likely to be raped than he is to be falsely accused” (p. 173). Firstly, the idea that men being raped at all is something that surprises people, but the fact that it happens more often than being falsely accused of sexual assault is hard to believe for most people, especially those who often resort to victim-blaming. But this point also leads to my only criticism of the book, which is that there is alot of fact-dropping, but no bibliography, footnotes or endnotes to speak of, so we don’t know where this research is coming from. I don’t doubt that it’s true, but the arguments would be much stronger if we just had more references for statements like the one above.
When I first started reading the book I was worried it was going to be too didactic for my liking, but McKeon does a wonderful job of weaving in personal tales and modern-day examples to keep the reader’s attention. For this reason, I would not call this an ‘academic text’ by any means. And it’s quite uplifting towards the end, which makes slogging through all the misogynistic arguments worth it. Defining the term feminism is a touchy subject for many, and of course it’s always evolving. During one of McKeon’s numerous interviews, she comes across a young woman with the PERFECT definition: “It’s about uplifting those around you” (p.243). I think that’s the perfect, positive thought to end this review on.
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