Leaders

Jessica Valenti: My Favourite Things

She's been hailed "one of the most successful and visible feminists of her generation" and Jessica Valenti's 247K strong Twitter following ensures she's heard across the world. The author and columnist opens up about the genesis of her feminist beliefs, favourite local haunts and Brooklyn mum-core style.

By Angela Ledgerwood

Leaders

She's been hailed "one of the most successful and visible feminists of her generation" and Jessica Valenti's 247K strong Twitter following ensures she's heard across the world. The author and columnist opens up about the genesis of her feminist beliefs, favourite local haunts and Brooklyn mum-core style.

By Angela Ledgerwood

“My bitch face never rests,” proclaims feminist writer Jessica Valenti on her 247K strong Twitter account. For Valenti, author of six books – including The New York Times best-seller Sex Object: A Memoir that explores female sexual power, rape culture, and the double standards existing around female sexuality – this statement is merely the tipping point of how tirelessly she seeks to understand the causes and catalysts of sexism and misogyny. In all of her work, from the blog she started in 2004, Feministing.com, to her pieces for The New York Times and The Guardian, Valenti examines the forces that foster hatred against women and how we might attempt to dismantle them. Valenti is now working on a new book specifically about misogyny called The Misogynists. “For so long feminists have been focused on issues like reproductive rights, pay inequity, and rape,” says Valenti. “But issues don’t hurt women, men do – specifically, the men who hate women.” Valenti believes it’s time to talk about why men do what they do and examine the belief systems that foster these attitudes along with the structures that allow it to happen. It’s undoubtedly a timely topic. Here, Valenti speaks to Future Women about the genesis of her feminist beliefs, her favourite local haunts and her Brooklyn mum-core style.

How do you define feminism? I always go with the dictionary definition – which is the movement for social, political and economic equality. It may be simple, but I find it super useful—especially now, when so many people on the right are trying to co-opt feminist language. It’s actually a very specific movement for social justice. When and why did you start identifying as a feminist? I think I was always a feminist, but I didn’t start identifying as one until college—after I took my first women’s studies class. It was transformative—realizing that all of these things I felt for so long actually had a word and a movement behind them. What does equality look like for you? This is such a hard question because we’ve lived so long without it that I don’t even know if I would recognize it. I’d like to believe that equality feels like being safe, and that it could ease the stress and despair that so many women have. That’s my first hope. What books have informed your feminist perspective: Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage, everything by Bell Hooks, Kate Manne’s Down Girl. And so, so many others. The difference between sexism and misogyny is: Manne’s book does a great job of distinguishing between the two. Basically, sexism is the belief system and misogyny is the enforcement mechanism. She’s so brilliant. Why are you focusing on misogyny in your next book? I’m focusing on misogynists because for so long feminists have been focused on issues like reproductive rights, pay inequity, and rape. But issues don’t hurt women, men do—specifically, the men who hate women. I think we’re at a point in this country where people are ready for that conversation; ten years ago, we were still called man-haters. I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

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You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $7 a month.

Join the club

Already a member? Sign in