'Here We Are': The Feminist Book You Wish You'd Had Growing Up

Here We Are

Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak about Feminism for the Real World” is the book you wish you’d had as a teenager. What questions were you asking? What questions did you not even realize you had? Do I need a nose job? Does my voice matter? “Here We Are” offers feminist perspectives on common issues teenagers face and don’t always get straightforward answers on. It covers a lot of ground, such as how to have a feminist-based romantic relationship (yeah, that’s a thing!), body acceptance, gender norms, cultural appropriation, and fandom.

Kelly JensenThe book was edited by Kelly Jensen (right), editor and community manager of “Book Riot.” She’s also the author of “It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader.” She has put together a fun mix of essays, comics, poems, illustrations, and listicles like “Top Ten Lists of Black Female Friends” and “Five Tips for ‘Nice Girl’ Feminists.”

You can catch Jensen and Mikki Kendall reading at Women and Children First on Thursday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Highlights for me included Angie Manfredi’s “The Big Blue Ocean and My Big Fat Body,” and transgender author Constance Augusta Zaber’s “Dragging Myself into Self-Love.” There are also notable celebrity pieces from Mindy Kaling, Roxane Gay and an interview with Laverne Cox. The anthology also introduced me to illustrator and comics artist Wendy Xu. Check out her Mooncakes web comic: “A (Queer, Chinese-American) Paranormal Romance.”

With a fun, art-journal-like aesthetic, the book feels geared toward a younger audience, and much of the content matches this tone. I can imagine certain well-informed readers being put off by this. However, other pieces carry high expectations of its readers. For example, in Mikki Kendall’s essay “Facets of Feminism,” she writes:

“There’s no issue that impacts women that isn’t a feminist issue. So whether you care about police brutality, child care, educational access, medical issues, dress codes, or something else entirely—if it’s a feminist issue and if it is important to you? Then it’s important to feminism. And if it isn’t important to the feminists you know, or isn’t a part of the texts that you have read, then you have to challenge those narratives.”

There’s certainly a spectrum of the kinds of feminist ideologies a teenager needs, and “Here We Are” meets the reader where they are.

Buy this for your younger sibling, your besties’ kids, any female or gender minority teenager you happen to be close to.

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Jera Brown writes about being a kinky polyamorous Christian on her blog scarletchurch.com and a sex and relationship advice column, Just the Tip, for Rebellious Magazine. Follow her @thejerabrown.

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