Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently by Emer O’Toole

fullsizeoutput_4525Girls will be Girls by Emer O’Toole is an engaging, witty & interesting look at gender performances, sexuality and how we might do things differently. Gleaning from her own experiences and experimentation with identity, O’Toole challenges the very fabric of societal construct and the way we are socially conditioned to identify, associate and perform our actions & behave in accordance to our gender. Despite the fact that most of us may claim to be feminist, or at least believe in feminist ideas and an egalitarian society, at an intrinsic level we easily accept sexist biases without really questioning it.

O’Toole is refreshingly honest in confronting her own racism, ablism and internalised misogyny. And she makes a very interesting argument on how difficult it could be to challenge the system when it comes to one’s own family and friends. As she coins it, “the hard thing is, patriarchy is made up of people I love”. Gender isn’t binary, and she makes such a compelling case on how limiting it can be to force one to identify or classify themselves either as male or female, solely based on biology. And the fact is, most of what she says, are already things we may be aware of, but never really paid attention to. Besides gender performances, she offers a fascinating commentary on socialist versus a capitalistic society, on race, on language and the way speech can be influenced by preconceived notions on gender and race.

All in all, this book urges readers to pause, examine and question the way they perform their roles, irrespective of their gender identity. In the end, sometimes, girls will be girls. But this book is a reminder that being a girl could mean a whole lot of things. And maybe one day, women will get to decide for themselves what that really means.

Rating: 4/5

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