Sexy Feminism: A Girl's Guide to Love, Success, and Style - Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Heather Wood Rudulph Feminism isn't as "clear cut" as it was back in the 1970's. Is marrying anti-feminist? What about carefree, casual sex? Or thongs? Or Brazilians? Or a career? Armstrong and Rudulph take a look at several issues which are big feminist topics - cosmetic surgery, waxes, dating, sex, contraceptives and more - and try to give a reasonable answer to "Is this feminist or not?"

NOTE: I received this through the Amazon Vine program.

I went into this book pretty cautious. I just finished a feminism book and wasn't that impressed, so I tried to keep my expectations low. Also, with a title like "Sexy Feminism", I was skeptical. Feminism is more than about "being sexy" - it's about giving women human rights! But I quickly found that while there were plenty of portions that bugged me (the constant repetition of feminism being "sexy and fun", the answers that aren't really answers), mostly, I found this one of the more insightful introductory feminist novels I've read.

One of the things that I liked the most was the amount of research and references there were in here. The authors have a nice hefty Bibliography, filled with weblinks, magazines, and books. This is what I like to see in non-fiction - not just authors telling me what they think is true, but showing me, using resources - resources that I can verify, if I choose to.

I also rather liked the tone that the novel was written in. The last feminism book I read, the author used a very conversational style; while this book is by no means straight "professional" non-fiction (they say sh** and the f-bomb a couple of times), overall, it felt like I was learning, not having a conversation with my girlfriends - again, this is something I like when reading nonfiction.

What was sort of a mixed bag was the solutions. On one hand, the authors posed questions to the reader about WHY the reader wanted to do something (get a Brazilian, dress in sexy clothes, have casual sex, or get a boob job) instead of just outright saying "Don't get a boob job". I liked this because it turns the responsibility and the choice back on the woman - are you getting a Brazilian because you like to, or because your boyfriend makes you feel you have to? Do you diet because you are overweight and want to be healthy or because you aren't the size of Kate Moss? A lot of feminism books that I've seen tend to say things like "if you get married, don't change your name!" or "Never diet!" without ultimately returning the responsibility to the woman. Not giving us a choice to choose our last names or our clothes or our sex lives is just as bad as what patriarchy would have of us. On the other hand, it's not very decisive. So if you want a boob job and it would make you happier, do it? Brazilians are OK if you choose it, not your boyfriend? I get "different strokes" but this seems sketchy to me.

I think my favorite part was the chapter on Female Friends. In it, they condemn how society pits women against each other (usually over a man) and celebrate close female friends. It brought a tear to my eye, because I am a very lucky woman to have a very close friend - my sister, whom I can tell pretty much everything to (and she can tell me). Unfortunately, I'm sure that society sees us as lesbians, which is a shame that any affection between women automatically has to be sexual, but I am grateful for her and can say that yes, she makes life a whole lot better.

At the very end, the authors encourage women to be activist however they feel best able. Be it holding a sign and protesting, volunteering or blogging. I appreciate this because I am not an in-your-face type of girl; I'd rather take to pen and paper and write about the injustices I see than hold a sign on the street corner. Or donate money to a worthy cause. Or refuse to buy products from anti-feminist companies.

This book isn't without faults. As I said, the title is "Sexy Feminism" after all, which I feel isn't a great descriptor of this book. Sure, the authors are trying to make feminism appealing, but honestly, if you have to sell feminism by calling it "fun" and "sexy", is it worth it? I'm not a child; I don't have to be conned into doing something. I can support a cause even if it isn't "fun" and "sexy", but because I know it is good for me and good for everyone around me.

If you are new to feminism and would like to see how your unique characteristics can fit into the movement, this is a great place to start. I see this book being open to Democrats AND Republicans, liberals AND conservatives, the skepticals AND the religious. If you're more experienced with feminism, this will probably tell you nothing new but may give you some new questions to ponder or ways to help out.