Review: Shrill by Lindy West

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Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman

Published: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Hachette
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780316348409
Source: Owned
Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books, Read The Books You Buy

 

This is probably one of the most relevant and important books of the year. I got to see Lindy speak at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest a few weeks before I read the book, and I had heard about it so much but did no research before going to see her speak. She’s funny, she’s unapologetic, she’s honest. This memoir is a compilation of essays in which Lindy discusses and breaks down this prevailing culture of fat-shaming, internet-trolling, harassment, and good old-fashioned sexism. The titles of the essay had me snort-laughing, its content did not. Lindy gets real and gives no fucks. She talks about growing up as a fat girl, having to make herself smaller, tinier, quieter- because that’s such an ingrained ideal trait across cultures for women, and I related so much with that. It’s that terrible intersection of being a woman and being fat. There’s just no winning, because people would rather die than be some obscenely fat and uglyThey also think you should die because you are a smear on everything our society is working towards- to be thin is to be beautiful

I mean I have literally been asked more than once, including by people who love me and are significant parts of my life, why I choose to be this way and live this life. Why won’t I just try a little harder, have some self-control, do some physical activity? We’re worried about your health, J. Because healthy=thin. Also, happiness=thin, apparently. Here’s what Lindy has to say about that:

“I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman. I don’t want to have another fucking conversation with another fucking woman about what she’s eating or not eating or regrets eating or pretends to not regret eating to mask the regret. OOPS I JUST YAWNED TO DEATH.”

Needless to say, she spoke to my soul, people. 

I was absolutely not aware of this before the book, but to say Lindy is familiar with internet trolls would be a disservice to her career. Internet trolls are terrifying, to say the least. A reminder that there exists a person on the other end of the twitter handle spewing vitriolic garbage that can send you spiralling to the darkest corner of your headspace because they truly believe you should not exist because you’re fat/feminist/outspoken. That your own boss, who knows you and your work, will spew garbage about fat people while you’re still working together and expect that you will let it slide. (She calls him out brilliantly). I applaud Lindy for risk this level of vulnerability in her memoir, particularly when she talks about her experience with confronting an internet troll. An internet troll can IMPERSONATE YOUR DEAD FATHER and that is a thing that happens because “it’s just the internet and you have to deal with it.”

Men may think rape is bad, but putting the kibosh on rape jokes is curbing their freedom of speech. Here’s a section of a book that I plan to shove in any asshole’s face anytime they get whiny about me “taking it too seriously”:

“Feminists don’t single out rape jokes because rape is “worse” than other crimes- we single them out because we live in a culture that actively strives to shrink the definition of sexual assault; that casts stalking behaviors as romantic, blames victims for wearing the wrong clothes, walking through the wrong neighborhood, or flirting with the wrong person; bends over backwards to excuse boys-will-be-boys misogyny; makes the emotional and social costs of reporting a rape prohibitively high; pretends that false accusations are a more dire problem than actual assaults; elects officials who tell rape victims that their sexual violation was “god’s plan”; and convicts in less than 5 percent of rape cases that go to trial. Comedians regularly retort that no one complains when they joke about murder or other crimes in their acts, citing that as a double standard. Well, fortunately, there is no cultural narrative casting doubt on the existence and prevalence of murder and pressuring people not to report it.

Maybe we’ll start treating rape like other crimes when the justice system does.”

Seriously, I want to put that on a poster in my home. If anyone has a single criticism to the above section, I have two words for you: Brock Turner.

All of you, please go read this book. It is relatable, it had me laughing, raging, and crying all at the same time, and devouring the book over the course of a weekend. If you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

-J

 

 

 

 

Author: The Shrinkette

Speed reading aficionado. Unapologetic book pusher. Diversity junkie. Noncompliant. Scotch pundit. Ace. She/her. Point me to the nearest bookshelf. My blog is dedicated exclusively to supporting and promoting marginalized voices.

20 thoughts on “Review: Shrill by Lindy West”

  1. As fucked up as so much of the subject matter is and your reasons for relating to it, I’m so glad that you found a book that resonates so much with you! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this one at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yass!! This sounds awesome and I need to read it! Rape culture is really everywhere, I just need to talk to seemingly “nice” people for longer than 5 minutes and it rears its ugly head. Love her thoughts on and work for fativism! Even if people think they are “polite” and don’t mention one’s weight, the minute someone loses weight it’s all wow you were so ugly and fat before, kudos on changing that. Have had invigorating screaming matches with idiots about how much they just worry about people’s health when discriminating the shit out of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know, that This American Life story has been out now for some time, and I think I listened to it when it first came out, so it’s been part of my life for a WHILE? And yet every time I think about the fact that someone harassed her in this way, using her dead father’s face to fuck with her, I just can’t believe how mean people can be. There could never be a good reason for treating someone that way, in the first place, but to do it because she talks openly about these feminist issues just boggles my mind. Like, if you do not like a writer’s work, you can stop reading that writer. I do it all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. Well I didn’t know anything about it, except that everyone and their mother couldn’t stop talking about this book when the ARCs were floating around. I really enjoyed her talk at the fest- she’s funny and so relatable.

      Like

    2. And yes, when I read about the whole troll story, I was horrified. Like how far will you go to be spiteful towards someone? I couldn’t imagine having to confront one of those people without me wanting to punch the living daylights out of them.

      Like

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