Publishing Date: 20.09.2016
Genre(s): YA; Mystery; Fiction
Favourite Quote: “But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”
Why I think it’s feminist: Effective look at sexual assault and rape culture
“Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.”
I’m so glad I started 2017 with Mindy McGinnis The Female of the Species. It wasn’t a pleasant read but rather brutal, as it centres around sexual assault, rape and its normalization due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Someone on Goodreads described the novel as “a searing takedown of rape culture and a merciless examination of the way violence begets violence” and I couldn’t summarize it better.
Alex sister was raped and murdered and nobody really seemed to care.
The Killer walks free so Alexs takes things into her own hands and kills him. She soon discovers that she might not be able to stop because every time she witnesses sexual assault, slut-shaming or anything else sexually degrading women she just snaps. When some guys at a party drug her friend Peekay and try to take her out into the woods Alex rips one guys nose and part of his ear off his head.
Obviously, violence should never be the answer to violence but I’d lie if I told you I didn’t connect with Alex, feeling her rage, seeing her as a kind of dark, avenging hero.
I understand why she chooses violence as her language. It’s because she thinks it’s the only language that will get people to change their attitude toward women, theirs bodies, sexual assault and rape.
“ I’ll keep doing it even though she’s not here to defend. Because there are others like him still. Tonight they used words they know, words that don’t bother people anymore. They said bitch. They told another girl they would put their dicks in her mouth. No one protested because this is our language now. But then I used my words, strung in phrases that cut deep, and people paid attention; people gasped. People didn’t know what to think. My language is shocking.”
While reading The Female of the Species I had tears in my eyes more than once, my stomach tied into a thight knot, but the last few pages made me cry like a baby, leaving me full of anger as well as hope. I guess I’m going to chew on this for a while now…