The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle, translated by Aleshia Jensen, 60 pp, RL 4
The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle
Review Copy from Drawn + Quarterly
How do you explain feminism, the need for feminism and the many complexities therein to young readers? It's a lot to ask of one book, especially a graphic novel, but Malle gets the conversation started and guides readers through some of the central tenets of feminism in a clear, engaging way that gives readers the tools needed to do their own critical thinking.
My idea of feminism when I was young (in the 1990s) meant reading The Feminine Mystique, pretending I read all of The Second Sex, making sure my husband did housework and dressing my infant daughter in anything but pink. As a white, middle-aged cisgender woman aware of my privilege, I have benefitted from all I have learned from those younger than me, through what I read and the media I consume. I am still learning, and learned from Malle's book, which is divided into five chapters. Starting with Representation (then moving on to Friendship, Romance, Beauty and Gender) Malle uses straightforward dialogue and humorous comics to distill big ideas. Within each chapter, Malle goes deeper, discussing consent, privilege and intersectionality (Malle is sure to let readers know that this term was coined by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw Williams), referencing historical feminism and more recent developments like the Bechdel Test, and Peggy McIntosh's metaphor of the "invisible backpack" as a way to dissect white privilege and answering the question, "Do feminists hate men???"
The League of Super Feminists is a book that can be read alone, but is best when read then discussed. And, as other reviews note, there is little mentioned about body positivity and the fat acceptance movement and nonbinary and agender identities could be handled better, Malle's repeated messages of respect and the importance of being there for each other and sticking together inspire empathy and compassion that, hopefully, will lead to exploration, education and deeper understanding of all the many layers of feminism.
*Malle does not use traditional panels in her book, which allows the information and ideas to flow and connect. I could only find page spreads from the French edition, but included them here so you can get an idea for the interior.