FEARLESS FEMALES: The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood by Marta Breen, illustrated by Jenny Jordahl, 125 pp, Rl 4

 

FEARLESS FEMALES: 

The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood 

written by Marta Breen

illustrated by Jenny Jordahl

Published by Yellow Jacket Books



With this essential graphic novel, Breen and Jordhal have created a comprehensive look at the "fight for freedom, equality, and sisterhood" that centers itself from the start with a letter to readers that states, "Feminism is the opposite of misogyny," then goes on to define misogyny as:

the notion that the opinions of women are less valid, and that their work is less worthwhile, that htey do not have the right to make decisions about their won lives and their own bodies, that they deserve less freedoms than men, and that they should obey men. This misogyny has long historical roots and is still very widespread. And it means that millions of women are subjected to violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage and other forms of oppression every single day.

I feel like it's important to quote this in full because, no matter how often we teach our children about great women, the words "misogyny" and "feminism" rarely, if ever, are part of the discussion, yet the impact of both misogyny and feminism is a profound aspect of being a woman and is present on every page of FEARLESS FEMALES: The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood.

The biographies of Táhirih, and Iranian poet who is the first known martyr for the Women's Movement, and Malala Yousafzai, bookend what is largely the story of women of the Western World fighting for equality and human rights. Breen, with Jordhal's intensely expressive illustrations that capture the deep frustration, outrage, grit and triumph, begins each section showing readers the ways misogyny affected women at the time. Starting at the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 that segregated women abolitionists, making them listen to speeches from behind a curtain and the suffrage movements in England and America (with a brief look back at the Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges, who wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen and was beheaded during the Reign of Terror), the suffrage movement in England and America. A section on how socialism played a role in the Women's Movement importantly shows how working-class women join a fight that had largely been dominated by middle-class women. I especially appreciate the illustration showing the parade of women from around the world headed to the ballot box, each one holding a sign showing when her country gave women the right to vote.

Breen cites the "right to receive an education, get a job, and earn one's own money," the "right to vote in political elections," and the "right to bodily integrity," as the most crucial causes in the Women's Movement. A look at the struggle for female bodily integrity begins with Margaret Sanger, moving on to Roe v. Wade and includes frank talk about the drastic, deadly lengths women go to obtain an abortion. Gains in the Women's Movement, as well as the inequities and dangers women still face, from female circumcision to child marriages and sexual harassment, along with a chapter on Sappho and the LGBTQ+ fight for human rights, round out this phenomenal book that I wish I could put in every library, classroom, and home.

Also by Breen & Jordhal




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