Saturday, October 2, 2021

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West


I've had SHRILL on my to-read list since 2017, so it feels really good to finally check it off my list. I've now read all three of West's essay collections and she's quickly become one of my favorite feminist essayists for her writings on body positivity, intersectional feminism, pop cultural commentary, and general amusing (or not-so-amusing) observations about how the world works. Also, I'm not entirely convinced that we aren't secretly the same person. For starters, we're both super awkward and like to shout in all-caps.

SHRILL is her first book and also the weakest, which makes sense because essays are hard and finding your voice is hard, and it feels like the two things in tandem can be like trying to learn how to ride a bike and juggle at the same time. Even so, it's still fantastic. There were slow portions but some of the essays were so, so good. Like, the one about her father made me tear up a little-- and the one about the troll who terrorized her using her father's death as a weapon, only to apologize later and offer reconciliation was... WHEW.

She writes quite openly about what it is like to be overweight in a society that only accepts thin bodies as healthy, attractive bodies. She brings up some pretty harsh truths about what it is like to be a woman on the internet. I watched a clip of the debate she did with comedian Jim Norton on YouTube and the comments section made me sick. Women are not supposed to take up space. They are not supposed to be loud and opinionated. They are not supposed to rejoice in the things that society says they should find shameful. Lindy flips the bird to all of that and says, YES THEY CAN, YES THEY ARE, YES THEY SHOULD, AND ALSO, YOU ARE DUMB.*

*I mean, I would imagine.

I'm really sad she doesn't have much of an internet presence. She talks about why in THE WITCHES ARE COMING and I get it. At the end of the day, your mental health should be your number one priority, and if social media is becoming an emotional sinkhole that drags you deeper every day, then yeah, maybe social media needs to exit stage left. It shouldn't be this way, and Lindy talks about this, too, about how women (and also PoCs/LGBT+) are basically told to grow thicker skins and not disrupt the status quo because THE INTERNET IS MEAN YOU GUYS AND THAT'S JUST HOW IT IS. Why is that how it is? IDK, but it is, and is apparently meant to stay so until the ends of time. SHRILL challenges that, and encourages people to push for courtesy and really own themselves, flaws and all. Parts of it are devastating, parts of it are funny, but ultimately it's a pretty satisfying and empowering read.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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