Moxie girls fight back!
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Where was this book when I was in High School?! There were so many moments when I was reading Moxie that I felt that I was Vivian; her experiences in small town Texas echoed similar experiences I had in a small high school in Tennessee:
- The football team can do no wrong, especially if they win games.
- Men’s athletics are better supported and better financed than women’s teams, even if the women win more games. (*cough cough* I’m looking at you, USA Men’s Soccer Team, instead of our champion Women’s Team)
- Men make sport of groping and insulting women’s bodies.
- In my high school, guys played criss cross apple sauce instead of the bump and grab. It was the same thing, just a different name; a stupid and sad excuse for the boys to grope the girls.
- School administrators delight in ridiculing and embarrassing their female students over their outfits, on behalf of the boys who simply “can’t help themselves.”
- I can’t tell you how many times I was pulled out of class or disciplined for wearing the same pair of uniform shorts that every other girl in school wore. When are school administrators going to realize that one size does not fit all?! That we are all built differently?! Why should I be punished, pulled out of class, and made a fool of because my backside is genetically rounder and bigger than other people’s?!
I really appreciated the overt feminism in Moxie, especially with all of the news reports circulating right now. Moxie is an empowering book: it shows different types of girls from all walks of life in different stages of realizing their own voices within the feminist movement; it questions and challenges the patriarchy head-on; it shows a grassroots movement that starts anonymously and spreads like wildfire from one girl to another. Most of all, it’s really cool in how it shows girls forging relationships with one another. Those moments alone are enough to make Moxie a winner.
“Girls from diverse backgrounds and identities get in on the Moxie fight; some do point out to Vivian that they face struggles she hasn’t even considered. But ultimately, the view of feminism that we get from Moxie is predominately white, straight, and cisgendered. For this reason, it feels like Moxie isn’t really meant for the teenage women who are already out there marching and signing petitions. It’s for the girls like Vivian, who can get by without too much damage if they stay quiet and avoid the fight. They need something to light a fire in their hearts, and maybe Moxie can provide that spark. Here’s hoping they take to the streets.”
The lack of intersectionality was disappointing, and for this reason alone I could not give Moxie a full five star rating. However, I think Moxie is still relevant, still does more good than harm, and still offers up valuable lessons, particularly to the young women of the world.
At the heart of this story is a call to arms; a demand that we all take to the streets. I feel as though we are at a cultural cross-roads in the feminist movement in the United States right now. With the sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations coming out of Hollywood, the #metoo movement, the increased visibility of the challenges women face in exercising their constitutional right to an abortion, the never-ending gender pay gap, the war on transgender rights, and the war on women’s reproductive rights, being vocal and being present in the feminist movement has never been more important. I love and appreciate all of the strong women of Hollywood who have come out of the shadows and shared their own stories about the sexual harassment culture that dominates their field of work. It is important to be vocal and to be present. However, I am also sick of only hearing stories. In addition to sharing our stories, we need to take action. Moxie girls fight back! I’m ready for action, the same way that the women of Iceland marched out of work to ensure their right to equal pay more than forty years ago! Where is the action in the United States?
If Vivian Carter, a seventeen year old girl from a small town in Texas, can find her own voice and find the courage to walk out of the halls of her high school, can’t we all find the courage to walk out of our institutions of employment and schooling, to ensure that we are finally once and for all treated equally?!
Moxie is about a girl finding her voice and figuring out what it means to be a feminist in her own day-to-day life. The slogan “Moxie Girls Fight Back!” is a call to arms for all the girls slipping quietly through the halls of school and work, biting their lips to contain their anger, striving to stay invisible and simply get through the day. It is a shame that Moxie was not around when I was in high school; if it had been around, I probably would have ruffled more feathers in my own high school. I think it is safe to assume that most of us didn’t find our voice in high school and most of us didn’t walk out en masse to give the finger to the patriarchy. But it gives me hope that the next generation of young women will have access to this book.
“it occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”
If you know any young women who are currently in high school, buy them a copy of this book. If you were a young woman in high school at any point in time in your life, read this book. If you are a male feminist ally, read this book. Read Moxie and fight back!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (September 19, 2017)
Genre: Young Adult, Teens, Girls & Women, Feminism, Social & Family Issues
Read… over the course of a weekend while… smashing the patriarchy.
Purchase your copy here.
Author: Jennifer Mathieu