For her debut young adult novel, former stand-up comedian Kate Weston writes Diary of a Confused Feminist to serve several purposes: to create humor, to profile the feminist adventure from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Katarina Evans (a.k.a. Kat), and to shine a light on mental health, especially for those who endure anxiety and depression.

If it can be said of humor, some of the lines spoken and thoughts pondered by the novel’s protagonist seemed a bit outside the realm of normal. But Weston herself admits that normal might not exist, given that every individual varies in that regard. In any case, the focus on sex, sexuality, and lines regarding fixation on such topics—including a superfluous use of the F-bomb—did seem a bit gratuitous.  That aside, Kat and her friends are attending Year 11 in the United Kingdom. Sam, an aspiring catwalk model, is amazing at art and anything creative, Millie hopes to find a career in acting, and Kat’s greatest talent is worrying and imagining worst-case scenarios.

Told through entries in Kat’s daily diary, Weston’s novel walks the reader through the feminist adventures and life events of the trio. Sam acts as the artistic director, Kat is the operations director, and Millie serves as the social media director in their adventures, which begin with their tribute to the Time’s Up Movement. Many of these attempts backfire on the girls, creating much of the novel’s humor. For example, even though Kat proclaims: “I’m a strong, independent, feminist woman, happy to be on my own. I don’t need a man” (23), she lusts after Hot Josh, a model for ASOS.

Basically, Kat is confused, wondering whether feminists vacuum, worry about waxing, call another woman a monster, or go out of their way to look nice for a guy. Because she doesn’t yet have “womanly curves,” Kat connects with feminism since it provides “a step toward feeling more like a woman even if [she doesn’t yet] have the curves or the sophistication” (66-67).

Amidst the adolescent drama of Diary of a Confused Feminist, Weston does share several insightful moments, namely that woman and girls should not be so focused on their physical weight and appearance but more on their mental and emotional weight. Along with Kat, readers will likely come to realize that yearning to do what everyone else is doing by watching lives on Snapchat and Instagram is unhealthy. That pastime leads Kat to determine she’s a faulty human, not fit for feminism and incomplete as a person. Eventually, Kat decides she’s “not good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, and not clever enough” (225). When her parents step in to get her some therapy for her anxiety and depression, Kat determines she’s defective and shameful.

As she unpacks her very personal suitcase under the influence of Weston’s pen, Kat navigates her pain with the help of supportive friends and family members. She also learns to be less influenced by the media so that by the novel’s end, Kat writes an insightful list of ten items for How Not to Be a Confused Feminist.

  • Posted by Donna

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