Here on The Page Sage, I review books from a feminist viewpoint. If you've seen the images below in my reviews and want to better understand what they mean, here's a quick key:
Is a character a joke because of her weight? Does a character only reach her full potential because she loses weight? Does a character (one we're supposed to root for) look down on other girls because of their weight? Not acceptable.
Is a female character made into a plot point for the male character's benefit? (More on my feelings about Manic Pixie Dream Girls here.)
Does a male character continue to pursue a female character, even after she has said no? This is rape culture- not romantic.
Does the female protagonist pride herself on "not being like other girls"? What's wrong with other girls? Sounds like girl-on-girl hate to me.
Is a character shamed because of her choice to be abstinent? Not cool- her body, her choices.
Is a character shamed because of her choice to be sexually active? Not cool- her body, her choices.
Does a female character get offed to further the male character's plot? Calling a foul.
Is there a POC protagonist, but a white girl on the cover? Is there an obvious lack of POC characters? C'mon.
Making the Grade
Are there characters of color? LGBT characters? Are they fully fleshed-out (i.e. NOT one-dimensional stereotypes)?
Are there female friendships in the novel? And, in the spirit of the Bechdel test, do they talk about something other than boys?
After book upon book featuring female protagonists who hate their bodies, it's refreshing to find characters who love their looks and own it!
For those special books that go above and beyond in the feminism department.
Of course, all of these marks are applied in context.
What do I mean by that?
Well, for example, I'm not going to criticize a a YA Contemporary novel for fat shaming if, in the book, the school bully is making fun of someone's weight. That's part of the bully's characterization. I will criticize a book for fat shaming if a character we're supposed to root for does it and it's "supposed to be" justified. Know what I mean? (If not, it's clearer in my reviews, I promise.)
A Smashing the Patriarchy
B Pretty solid patriarchy smashing, but lacking that oomph
C Decent, could possibly stand to take a Feminist Theory course
D Sexist, plain and simple
F Misogynist- do NOT read