Book Review: The Undeniable Power of ‘Nasty Women’

Since 404 Ink’s first announcement of the book on Twitter, Nasty Women has been turning heads both within and beyond the publishing industry. The essay collection, inspired by the bigoted commentary of President Trump, aims to tell the real stories of 21st century women and their experiences. Though a seemingly simple concept, Nasty Women is anything but the sort.

Covering topics ranging from contraception, sexual assault, sexism, race, and beyond, Nasty Women doesn’t tiptoe around the issues that women encounter on a daily basis. Because of its honest approach to these issues, this collection is able to resonate with a much broader audience. This was evident even before the book’s publication, with 404 Ink raising their Kickstarter goal of £6,000 ($7700) in just three days and reaching more than 1,300 backers and £22,156 ($28,463) by the end of their campaign in January.

Reading Nasty Women is both inspiring and educational. Not every woman will go through the same experiences, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share what goes on in our lives. This act of sharing is a way to help each other reach better understanding of the things we may never go through, but should be aware of. The raw honesty of each of the 20 contributors is something that’s desperately needed in a time where truth is attacked from all sides. A timid approach just won’t do.

Each essay stands out in their own special way, but there are some that really stuck with me. Jonatha Kottler’s “Fat in Every Language” brings a refreshing approach to weight and body image. Her unapologetic decision to define herself by the good things in her life rather than her weight (as most of the world would prefer) made me want to stand up and cheer.

Mel Reeve’s “The Nastiness of Survival” brings forth a sad, yet powerful, conversation about rape and recovery. Reeve’s points out how victims are placed in categories of “good” or “bad” depending on their reaction to assault. In essence, there are ridiculous expectations placed on victims while leniency is given to those who have done wrong. Reeve’s telling of her experience, I think, opens up an important discussion about what happens during recovery and the “nasty” side of survival.

In her essay “Go Home”, Sim Bajwa writes about being a first generation British-Indian and the growing racism toward immigrants, both in the UK and the US. This is an essay I wish everyone was required to read as multiculturalism isn’t the problem, but it’s the people who choose to embody hatred who are.

Nasty Women is a book that has a lasting importance, especially in the climate we are currently living in. There may be people who mock it or attack its ideals, but that doesn’t take away its impact. Margaret Atwood was right when she said Nasty Women is “an essential window into the many hazard-strewn worlds younger women are living in right now.”

Learn more about Nasty Women here.

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