GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS – EMER O’TOOLE
I just finished this book, and have allowed a few days of reflection before collecting my thoughts and relaying them to you. Wow. A great book. I must admit, I couldn’t put it down beyond halfway – it felt personal from this point forward. Emer wrote simply, but did a fantastic job of incorporating so many important feminist ordeals in the theme of performance.
Firstly, what seems so uncommon and rather punishing, is the effort involved in seeking out an author. You are finally at the end of a literature piece, or have concluded a scrutiny of ancient art… yet, you still remain so detached from the creator. They are a mere name, someone so out of touch, so known to the piece you associate them with but nothing more. Emer, different. I could search her name and read all about her, watch her speak, share her own ideas and essentially discovered a lot more of her person than that reflected in her book. It is comforting to know their is a real-life person behind some fabulous writing, not some grainy, old image of which is impossible to effectively see.
What gave this book such an exclusive feel, was the organic anecdotal narrative that occurred throughout and seemed to relate to some sexist ordeal. Emer used her past, socialisation, the media, sex and location as tools to highlight the true diversity of gender inequality blossoming in our lives; it was this, also, that advocated for the real need to question much of society that is often overlooked. Offering readers evidence of the existence of sexism in our daily lives, seemed to operationalise this concept that is littered throughout the feminist manifesto. Emer offered experience, combined with humour to excellently point out that despite being at an ultimate disadvantage from the second ‘it’s a girl!‘ rings through NHS corridors, their is still some hope and belief to come from the progression made over the last century — or perhaps this was just my interpretation. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the light-hearted sense of humour.
Further, should you not read with such devotion or commitment, or perhaps find reading strenuous, I must say that Emer’s work is a very easy read. Whether this is a strength or weakness, I am unsure. But, I know that gliding from page-to-page was much more of a ‘ooh! I can’t wait to see what else she has to say!‘ than a ‘how much longer until the end of the chapter?‘. Admittedly, however, their were slower points, but their were also points that my reading capabilities, eye-sight and understanding were all miss-matched by my zeal to absorb every word. Often, you find, books fail to entwine easy reading with complex sociological terminology – Emer seemed to describe well enough, that when she returned to ‘structure‘ and ‘agency‘ later on, you knew their meaning exactly without the effort of recall. A good writer.
It would be silly to argue that the entire population would enjoy this book. It would also be silly to say that this book would be meaningless to an entire population. Whether you consider yourself particularly aware of and interested in feminist issues, or use feminazi as a common word among your vocabulary – you will find some interesting thought, or idea on any one page. Ultimately, the thematical theme of performativity is extremely relevant to all our lives even if we feel as if we have chosen the gender-assigned traits that we so naturally carry out. You may not agree with the majority of the book. You may think of body hair as unhygienic. But you’ll find something in this piece for you.
Of course, the downsides can range from the structure and layout – the way in which the writing did seem fragmented in parts, and repetition was fairly prominent; but to me, the in-depth explanation that lays out the entire professional body of patriarchy and the ways in which it functions in the oppression to any marginalised group, offers a real, sincere and prominent argument for fuel to act differently. It is now (and always was) upon ourselves to act in that of which we believe, to defy social law and uncomfortably rupture expectations so that sooner or later, new norms based around equality, flourish and blossom in a society where male hegemony is no longer a recognised term. If you read Girls Will Be Girls, you will know that we must begin to question more closely, without fear or hesitance, and act in the name of a better, fairer world.