Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given – book review

Book review: Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Feminism/Gender studies
  • LGBT
  • Activism
  • Published in 2020
  • Goodreads rating: 3.90
  • Hardcover Edition
  • 224 pages
  • TW: rape, sexual assault

Disclaimer: I use the word “queer” in this review, because that’s the word that Florence Given uses in her book. Please do not take offense if that’s not the term that you prefer or think should be used.

I picked up this book quite a while ago in an American bookshop in Amsterdam (The American Book Center). It is Florence Given’s, a London based artist, writer and activist, debut novel. In 21 chapters, she gives an accessible introduction into feminism, self love, being queer, privilege, sex, ghosting, gaslighting, pros and cons of social media and many other related subjects. All of the art in the book is made by Given herself.

“Stop breaking yourself down into bite-size pieces. Stay whole and let them choke.”

Florence Given, Women don’t owe you pretty

I initially gave this book 4 stars, but in retrospect I decided to lower it to 3 stars. Mainly because I looked at the back cover and the blurb said: “The game-changing book that every woman needs” and well, it’s really not… Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good read. I went through it fairly easily and I definitely learned some new things every now and then, but it’s really more of a summary of the basics of feminism and it focuses A LOT on being queer, which I am not. If you are and you’re struggling with what that means to you and your femininity, I would recommend reading this book, because it does give a lot of useful advice in that department. However, if you’re a straight cis woman, a few of the chapters will not apply to you.

“There is enough room for all women to be whole without tearing each other down.”

Florence Given, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

I really liked chapter 20: Check Your Privilege. It gives a very clear definition of privilege and then does a privilege check on white privilege, cisgender privilege, male (passing) privilege, straight privilege, non-disabled privilege and class/financial privilege. It made me realise that I’ve always been really aware of male privilege, because I’m a “victim”, but I actually have lots of different kinds of privilege as well that I’ve been blind to.

I really liked the artwork in the book. It’s colourful and original and it’s a nice break from the heaps of information you’re given. The quotes also make it very understandable and easy to retain what you’ve learned.

I would recommend this book if:

  • You like reading about feminism or are interested in feminism;
  • You’re looking for a smooth introduction into feminism;
  • You’re LGBTQ+ and you’re struggling with femininity
  • You want to read about a queer girl’s struggle with feminism.

Side note: I’ve been seeing a lot of comments and reviews about this book saying that the whole concept of this book is stolen from Chidera Eggerue’s “What a Time to Be Alone”. I haven’t read it, so I’m afraid I can’t really shine a light on this matter. Reading the summary of “What a Time to Be Alone”, I do see some similarities in the topic, but no signs of plagiarism so far. I’ll put it on my TBR and see if I can do a post some day that compares these two books.