‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween
‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween

Jennifer McShane

The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter
The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter

Holly O'Neill

This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000
This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000

Megan Burns

Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women
Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women

Sarah Finnan

‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next trip to Cork
‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next...

Shayna Sappington

‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they turn 5’
‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they...

Amanda Cassidy

Period dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch while we wait for ‘The Crown’
Period dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch while we wait for ‘The Crown’

Erin Lindsay

The world’s most sustainable travel spots revealed
The world’s most sustainable travel spots revealed

Amanda Cassidy

Indoor Halloween activities for kids to get you through the mid-term
Indoor Halloween activities for kids to get you through the mid-term

Lauren Heskin

Planning a festive trip to London this year? These hotels really know how to do Christmas
Planning a festive trip to London this year? These hotels really know how to do...

Sarah Finnan

Image / Editorial

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir


by Lia Hynes
08th Oct 2018
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir

There are few people who would be able to persuade Bridget Jones out of retirement to air her feminist views, Keira Knightley to write about childbirth, or Evanna Lynch (of Harry Potter fame) about period panties (and the fear of leaking on a casting director’s couch).

In her first book, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on what the F-Word Means To Them, Scarlett Curtis, journalist, activist, and daughter of Richard Curtis and Emma Freud, writer and script editor of films including Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones’s Diary, has done just that. The twenty-three-year-old, who has written with great honesty in the past about her depression, has curated a series of essays by herself and other women.

The book is not, she explains, intended to be an expert’s guide or a comprehensive history of feminism. Instead it is “a book of feelings that are transforming into thoughts that are transforming into action.” As such, it slots perfectly into one of the biggest current trends in literature for women’s writing; memoirs and essay collections, where women write with total honesty about their experiences of being, well, women.

The biggest surprise of this book is Keira Knightley’s essay, although given that her mother, as Knightley herself writes proudly, was the playwright, screenwriter and actress Sharman MacDonald, maybe the revelation that Knightley is herself an excellent writer should not be such a surprise. Her contribution, written in stream of consciousness, is raw and angry. It is also surprisingly honest for one so seemingly entrenched in the mainstream Hollywood, and beauty, industries.

Be nice, be supportive, be pretty but not too pretty

The Weaker Sex, Knightley ’s essay, is a battle cry, an angry rejection against the notion that to be female is to be inherently weaker.

“My vagina split. You came out with your eyes open. Arms up in the air. Screaming…You latched on to my breast immediately, hungrily, I remember the pain….I remember the shit, the vomit, the blood, the stitches. I remember my battleground….You were in a crib by the bed. You cried and I ran to you. Exposing myself to the men in the room, blood running down my thighs, arse, cellulite. You are mine. Mine, and I will stop you crying. My breast is out in front of them all and I don’t care.”

On going back to work, Knightley calls out the different standards applied to men and women. Her male colleagues may turn up late, not knowing their lines, drunk, or not at all.

“I turn up on time, word perfect…I am up with you all night if you need me…I ache with tiredness. I weep with tiredness. I break with tiredness.”

There is also a push back at the beauty standards forced on her, and all women, by men.

“I work with men…They belittle me, they try not to listen to me, they don’t talk to me, they don’t want to hear my voice, my experience, my opinion. Be pretty. Stand there. They tell me what it is to be a woman. Be nice, be supportive, be pretty but not too pretty, be thin but not too thin, be sexy but not too sexy, be successful but not too successful.”

For my fifteen-year-old self

With fifty-two contributors, mostly actresses, activists and entertainers, the book is laid out in six sections; epiphany, anger, joy, poetry break, action, education. Within that, Curtis has covered an impressive range of topics, from imposter syndrome, to race, gender transitioning, periods, stereotypes, internalised misogyny, supporting other women, disability, music, motherhood, single motherhood, poverty, and female genital mutilation.

There are lists, poems, guides to what to answer when someone asks you all the questions that come when one declares oneself a feminist (“because Beyonce”, was where Curtis herself started out).  In a  clever twist, in her essay Woke Woman Gemma Arterton writes as her character Strawberry Fields in a James Bond movie from several years ago, except now from the point of view of a woman disgusted by Bond’s blatant misogyny. Jameela Jamil’s essay Tell Him is another beautifully written contribution. Dolly Alderton’s is as clever as always.

‘I made this book for my fifteen-year-old self’, Curtis has said on her Instagram.

In a piece for the Sunday Times, for which she is a contributing editor, Curtis, whose mother is the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, referenced her privileged position growing up with a seat at dinner tables surrounded by “incredible, older powerful women,” and her own work as a gen- Z feminist.

Dismantled “by Topshop”

Work by both older and younger women is here, and it will depend on your own age which you prefer. Much of it does seem aimed at your teenage daughter; every one of them should be given this. For me, some of the contributions felt angsty, meandering, or with shades of school essay. Some are more natural writers than others- Saoirse Ronan’s list felt a little light, but then I don’t think I am her target audience. Knightley’s contribution felt particularly powerful, but I too am a working mother, if not an A-list movie star with a Chanel beauty contract.

The book is already causing a stir- at time of writing, Curtis has just posted on Instagram that her pop up in a Topshop London branch has been dismantled “by Topshop” twenty minutes after it opened. Her mother, regramming the picture, commented “it lasted 20 mins before the boss ordered it to be stripped and taken down.” Both have used the hashtag #pinknotgreen, a reference to Topshop owner Philip Green?

Her great hope in creating this collection of essays, done in conjunction with the UN Foundation organisation Girl Up was, Curtis says, to dispel the notion that a qualification is needed to join the feminist movement. For anyone newly coming to feminism, they should find something of themselves in here somewhere.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies), €14.99, Penguin

Also Read

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
Trinity Tales: ‘Front Square was her garden, and the city was her playground’

Annie Gatling, now Colleran, knew Trinity College was for her when she saw Front Gate from the top storey of...

By Amanda Cassidy

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
No, the Olympics haven’t given athletes ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds

Despite some media coverage, the beds are actually focused on sustainability as opposed to intimacy restrictions. Recently, distance runner Paul...

By Jennifer McShane

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
8 easy ways to keep your brain healthy that you can do right now

Your brain health is just as important as that of the rest of your body, says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr...

By IMAGE

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
How to let go of toxic people, and the signs to recognise

By Niamh Ennis

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
Mandy Moore climbed an active volcano at dawn… while pumping

Hiking a mountain and breast pumping – now, that’s what we call multitasking at its finest. Mandy Moore enjoyed an...

By Sarah Finnan

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink: The book already causing a stir
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost, but you need the right equipment, and a lot of...

By Amanda Kavanagh