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How to Raise a Feminist Son: A Memoir and Manifesto Paperback – 16 April 2021

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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Product description


In How to Raise a Feminist Son, Jha weaves her own fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, and always beautiful story of raising her own feminist son with careful research, insightful interviews, and helpful advice. There were countless times in reading this book where I found myself reevaluating things I had told my own sons and setting new goals for things I would teach them in the future. True love sees you for who you are, and true love holds you to account when you fall short of who you can be, because true love knows what you are capable of. This book is a true love letter, not only to Jha's own son but also to all of our sons and to the parents-especially mothers-who raise them. ― Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race and Mediocre

You can't punish your way to a more feminist world, I've long believed; you have to create, encourage, invent that world, especially in how you raise kids, but that's only one reason Sonora Jha's book is exhilarating and inspiring. It's a beautiful hybrid of memoir, manifesto, instruction manual, and rumination on the power of story and possibilities of family. I can't wait to put it in the hands of everyone raising kids or thinking about how we do it and how it could be different. ― Rebecca Solnit, author of The Mother of All Questions

Essential reading for any parent, loved one, or teacher seeking to raise feminist boys in these times. A strong case for how teaching our boys to show vulnerability, empathy, and remorse can be the path to freedom. Sonora Jha asks, 'Can boys be feminists?' The answer is a resounding YES. ― V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of The Vagina Monologues and The Apology

Combining the insight of memoir with sound advice, How to Raise a Feminist Son is a glorious map to a better future. ― Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

Sonora Jha takes on the hardest questions and the most-fraught conversations with nuance and grace. Here, when addressing the deepest anxieties of parents raising boys committed to a fair and just society, her insights are invaluable. ― Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

We need to grow better men. In this fierce, elegant, necessary book, Sonora Jha tells us how she did just that. Weaving together the personal and the political, Jha fearlessly examines our current moment and how it affects the young men among us. How to Raise A Feminist Son scorches, illuminates, and above all challenges us to do better. ― Claire Dederer, author of Love and Trouble and Poser

About the Author

Sonora Jha, PhD, is an essayist, novelist, researcher, and professor of journalism at Seattle University. She is the author of the novel Foreign (Random House India, 2013) and co-editor of New Feminisms in South Asia: Disrupting the Discourse Through Social Media, Film, and Literature (Routledge USA, 2017). Her op-eds and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, the Establishment, DAME, and in several anthologies. She grew up in Mumbai and has been chief of metropolitan bureau for the Times of India, Bangalore, and contributing editor for East magazine in Singapore. She teaches fiction and essay writing for Hugo House, the Hedgebrook Writers' Retreat, and the Seattle Public Library. She is an alumna and board member of the Hedgebrook Writers' Retreat, and has served on the jury for awards for Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, and Hugo House.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (16 April 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 328 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143452452
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0143452454
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 230 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 20 x 14 x 4 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ India
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
14 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 9 June 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars If there is one book that you ought to read right now, it is this
By Sahil Pradhan on 9 June 2021
What it takes to unlearn years of patriarchy is a rebellion. 

It's not only that women are taught to grow up to be good wives, to learn housework inorder to find the perfect husband, to dress up in a certain way, to curtail to men's desires and keep their honour intact, it's also how the society allows men to grow into savages. It's also about how toxic masculinity thinks women can be contained within four walls, taught to be silent and told what they should do and shouldn't while men can do what they please or what they think is right, as the societal construct is made by those very minds.

In feminism, the idea of equality stands as a blazing pillar. The equality of every human right, the equality of every resource, every thought down to every emotion. It's easy for privileged men to say that women will strive, gain power and work harder to reach the paradigm of equality that they wish to have. It's easy to preach standing up on a pedestal, bashing glory in a system that supports your entitlement so well. That's why men don't want to change.

They are threatened, fearful that women can bring about a change they can't, that women can easily surpass them in every field. It is this insecurity, this sense of doubt on themselves that they want to hide. Staying in years of toxic masculinity doesn't do men any good. Know it well, escape from that cage before it engulfs you whole.

Sonora Jha's question, "Can boys be feminist?" has a deafening roar as an answer: YES. 

But change is a meditative process, it starts slow and takes a long time. To learn and unlearn male privilege, to know and listen to female voices, to learn to step back and let them have the stage, to kick off the pedestal and stand on a common ground, this all takes patience, immense patience, years of knowledge and a lifetime of dedication. That is how Feminist Son(s) can be raised.

Jha knows this very well, that this change needs to start right from childhood, to break the structures and norms and allow radical changes to seep in: to allow boys and girls play what they wish to, to allow them to learn and co-exist together and equally, to allow them to dream how they wish to and want to be. 'My boy wears pink' can be a good starting point but to grow and respect that pink, that's what is important. 

But what and who is a feminist son? A man whose “compassion, empathy and kindness is turned, in its attention, to the female condition, to the condition of half of humanity”. A man who “is alert to misogyny”.

Raising such a man is not an easy task. Oh, did you feel it's easy, it's not. Not with today's world. Media perception is forced down the throats of children, their freedoms and ideas are controlled, whipped and confined. Liberation from these chains of ages of oppression that directly and indirectly affect both sides, needs to be broken down. The tears are needed to turn into flames. When life serves you lemons, you need to make them learn how to make lemonade. But the recipe for this lemonade is not that obnoxious or sophisticated. I am taking some points from Sonora herself: 

1) Question your own values and viewpoints. Where do I stand? Why do I believe in feminism? Am I a feminist?

2) Ask the question: I want to raise a feminist son because...

3) Every culture had stories of women who changed the course of history and belief. Tell your sons about them.

4) Make choices to diversify the things you watch may it be movies, shows, or YouTube vlogs. Diversify your reading choices, edit that patriarchy out of your son's surroundings.

5) If you are in a traditional family, embrace the comforts and challenge the conventions. If you are a contemporary small unit family, let your children know about different sexual orientations, make your feminism more intersectional.

6) Try a call-in opposed to a call-out. Model apologies.

7) Stop your own body negative language and actions. 

8) Make a list of your regrets, your slip ups. Forgive yourself for each one of them, slowly.

This review still won't stop, rather this part, this what follows is the most important reason to pick this book.

INTERSECTIONALITY IN FEMINISM. I am writing this in upper case as this is the most important feature that this book has and what makes it a manifesto for the most modernist view that feminism has now metamorphosed into: intersectional feminism and intersectional feminists. Now why this new addition?

Intersectionality is important. When sexual orientations are more incredibly diverse, when groups, castes and creeds which have been discriminated for long are now finally raising their voices, feminism needs to step up. Feminism now needs to add trans women voices, voices of women of colour, voices of Dalit women, voices that have been among the suppressed of the suppressed. When Adichie spoke with ferocity over the oppression of women, over the discrimination females have faced over decades, and later with the same ferocity discarded trans women out of that equation, I do not agree to her feminist manifesto anymore. I regard her as a TERF and that is what her feminism will remain for me. What Adichie missed in her whole rebuttal of intersectional feminism is that every woman, no matter if she has transitioned to become a woman, if she just identifies as one or if she is one by birth, has faced abuse and discrimination. No one remains unscathed by that. Adichie needs to learn this, Adichie needs to read Sonora's manifesto and learn how to include voices of different dissents and identities inside her feminist village.

As a final note to this review I will say that you can now finally keep down your Adichie's book of a manifesto of feminism, you can finally have your hands off feminists who don't include diverse groups and voices— voices which are not white and middle class— and listen to Sonora speak the language of feminism in this book. You can finally step out, hold this close, read it a million times, enact it in reality and step into the light. 

Sonora Jha has finally written a book that is now for me my "ultimate feminist manifesto", no Adichie, no anti-intersectional feminism. Now finally I can read a feminist book, a memoir, a manifesto that doesn't discriminate, just empowers and powers and powers.
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Reviewed in India on 23 June 2021