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Click: Becoming Feminists

by Lynn Crosbie, ed.

Decades ago, feminists outlawed the term “girl,” claiming that when men use it, they ditch females in a wasteland of permanent childhood and guarantee male superiority. A recent television newscast reported on “Girl Power,” the alleged cultural phenomenon fuelled by bopper girls’ allegiance to certain chick singers and their jingles. Asked, off-topic, if she would call herself a “a feminist,” one young guitar player sneered and shrieked, “Nooooo! We luuuuuv men!” How did we get here?

Click: Becoming Feminists comprises work by 30 female artists and writers and, in some ways, accounts for such disdain. Editor Lynn Crosbie does not censor the bits in her book where feminists and their politics look bad, or where mothers are as culpable as fathers. Instead, she allows these contributors to admit their ambivalence about this century’s most significant (argue if you must) political uprising. The same women, though, credit feminism for saving their lives.

Crosbie asked artists of diverse ages, genders, and disciplines to share the moment – the click – that marked their need for feminism’s radical revision. But she did not, thankfully, impose her perspective. Remarkably, it is impossible to sniff out Crosbie’s take on the movement’s limits and merits. She is an expert editor who finds an artful way to link these: June Callwood’s 1970s idealism; Naomi Klein’s crisis of faith during which she comes “unclicked”; Zagreb’s Slavenka Drakulic and her funny and forgiving swipe at bourgeois American feminists; film vixen Mamie Van Doren’s breasts; and Toronto playwright Sonja Mill’s penchant for porn.

Each work – all clever, tight, full of wit and its sister, wisdom – reveals a unique perspective vital to an understanding of the differences feminism fostered. “Feminism is about finding your strength,” is how Naomi Klein puts it, and Crosbie knows we are not all strong, all ways. Post-click, her speakers sought sexual, artistic, economic, political, or spiritual freedom; the movement told them they had it coming and then taught them to demand it.

Slickly designed, hip and smart, this book might be an antidote to Girl Power’s dubious spell. Veteran feminists will be buoyed by its familiar logic. Resistant ones may realize that some choices (am I a dyke or a working mom? both?) were not always choices.