Rules for Being a Girl exposes all those contradictory rules that girls are expected to adhere to no matter how impossible it may seem. This could be seen as a great read for teenage girls but it’s an interesting book for women of any age and men, too.
From the back of the book:
REMEMBER GIRLS Put a little colour on your face. Shave your legs. Don’t wear too much make-up. Don’t wear short skirts. Don’t distract the boys by having a body. Don’t be one of those girls who can’t eat pizza. You’re getting the milkshake too? Whoa. Have you gained weight? Don’t get so curvy you aren’t skinny. Don’t take up too much space. Be funny but don’t hog the spotlight. Be smart, but you have a lot to learn. Don’t be a doormat, but God, don’t be too bossy. Be chill. Be easygoing. Act like one of the guys. Be a feminist. Support the sisterhood. Don’t be easy. Don’t give up. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be cold. Don’t put him in the friend zone. Don’t act desperate. Don’t let things go too far. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t blame him for trying. Don’t walk alone at night. But calm down! Don’t worry so much. You can do anything! You can be whatever you want to be! Just don’t forget to smile.
Marin is having a pretty good life — editor of the school paper, boyfriend from the lacrosse team, a shoe-in for Brown University, popular — when she suddenly finds that navigating the teen years is more complicated than she imagined. Marin and her friend Chloe are rather obsessed by their young, handsome, friendly English teacher, Beckett (Bex) who happens to be the faculty advisor for the school paper. When he offers Marin a drive home from school one afternoon but makes a stop at his own place and makes a pass at her, Marin is caught between feelings of flattery and the unease of his actions being inappropriate. Then, when the principal humiliates a girl for breaking school rules wearing her skirt too short and wearing knee highs, Marin begins to reevaluate the way
her boyfriend talks about girls and how the rules for girls and those for boys are unequally enforced. As an editor of the school paper, she decides to comment on this disparity and in doing so, opens a can of worms. Should she report Bex for inappropriate behaviour? Will she be believed? When Bex slaps her down in class for questioning his all white male reading list, she finds another teacher, Ms. Klein, an advocate, and together they start a feminist book club.
I love books that make me want to follow up with other books and authors mentioned within the novel and this is one of those books. Topics that come up in the feminist reading club Marin & Ms. Klein start led me to lots of interesting articles and books that I might otherwise not have explored. And while children, even teens often have crushes on their teachers, it’s up to the adult to be appropriate and draw the lines and protect them. This is an excellent exploration of this premise and things that could happen and how coming forward can make a difference. The characters are realistic, the school setting believable, and the tendency to overlook complaints all too real. A great book! * * * * *
The Feminist Book Club‘s reading list:
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Sister Outsiders by Audre Lorde
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire