Review: Nasty Women edited by 404 Ink

nastywomenPublished by: 404 Ink
ISBN 13: 9780995623828
Published: March 2017
Pages: 256
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Recommended

Nasty Women was a project on Kickstarter that ran through January 2017 after commissioning over 20 stories from women on both sides of the Atlantic in the last few weeks of 2016. They’re aiming for a release date to fall on the 8th March, International Women’s Day, 2017 and are well on their way to meeting that goal.

The contributors are:
Alice Tarbuck, Becca Inglis, Belle Owen, Chitra Ramaswamy, Christina Neuwirth, Claire Heuchan, Elise Hines, Jen McGregor, Joelle Owusu, Jona Kottler, Kaite Welsh, Katie Muriel, Kristy Diaz, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! (in conversation with Sasha de Buyl-Pisco), Laura Lam, Laura Waddell, Mel Reeve, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Ren Aldridge of Petrol Girls, Rowan C. Clarke, Sim Bajwa, and Zeba Talkhani.

From them we have a collection of essays from these women who share their experiences over a variety of topics. Taken from the blurb; ‘From working class experience to racial divides in Trump’s America, being a child of immigrants, to sexual assault, Brexit, pregnancy, contraception, identity, family, finding a voice online, role models and more, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Zeba Talkhani, Chitra Ramaswamy are just a few of the incredible women who share their experience here.’

I pledged for this project instantly because I adore the writing of Laura Lam and skipped straight to her essay to start off with. It’s a devastating story about the women in her family – how her mother grew up under the frightening rule of her mother, and the mother before her. It looks at what was considered the norm of that time, the stigma associated with mental health, and how it continues through the generations if not acted on with determination. It also speaks of a book Lam is writing with her mother that sounds like it’ll be a hard but worthwhile read – I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Onto the other essays. Not all are included in this review edition – reading those will have to wait until International Woman’s Day – but each and every one so far are as poignant and captivating as Lam’s was. The first piece by Katie Muriel is endlessly quotable in regards to the current political rumblings in America – ‘Sometimes, however, peace has to take a holiday. Sometimes, there are battles to be fought.‘ It speaks of how politics can divide a family, and how awful some people can decide they have the right to be, even to their own family members.

The next essay discusses what it’s like to be a Black woman from Glasgow, and what this results in – white people feeling they can tough her hair as if she’s from a petting zoo, or people asking increasingly incredulous questions about where she’s really from, treading delicately as if they could be misunderstood as being racist. Except it is racist. Full stop.

Jen McGregor’s essay really resonated with me, as a person who’s constantly being told by doctors that I can’t make a decision about my own body when it comes to procreation. We need more stories like McGregor’s – we need more discussion about how we can barely decide things for ourselves and even then with medical guidance, tiny decisions can have such massive ramifications. McGregor’s health issues are severe and yet it still takes until she’s 31 until she gets the surgery she knew she wanted from a much younger age. I’ve recently turned 30, and I’m currently on a waitlist for the same surgery and even without the added bonus of osteopenia I can’t wait to finally gain the the control and serenity over my body I’ve always wanted. I too have been told that even when I’m in my 30s, surgeons may refuse the referral until I have a husband who can confirm he too doesn’t want children. Which makes me so mad I can’t even formulate an apt sentence. It’s ridiculous.

I won’t go through all of the essays as I’ve given more than enough away. I highly recommend this book as it’s easy reading – or at least easy for such hard topics. There’s trigger warnings, and the essays are written in such a warm way as if we are allies (and I hope we all are!) and they’re sharing a story between friends. United we stand, and all that. This is an important book, and I’m so glad it exists. So many of us reading will finally think ‘oh, I’m not the only one.’

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