Self empowerment is the essence of Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. Given invites the reader to consider why they do the things they do and think the way they think.
This book is an exploration into the patriarchal norms enshrined in our social conditioning. If you want to embrace throwing such norms on their head or, at the very least, become aware of their capitalist purpose, this book is for you.
This book invites readers to take control of their autonomy and shows the importance of satisfaction and self-sufficiency. Through her crumb analogy, Given reminds her readers that ‘crumbs are only tempting when you’re hungry, so you must ensure you’re always full on your own.’ Whether or not a person’s satisfaction derives from decisions such as marriage or procreation, readers are reminded that these are individual choices rather than inevitabilities. Given’s relationship between the written word and imagery does not end there. The book is bursting with Given’s artwork, used to celebrate diversity alongside empowering quotes.
Readers of the novel are encouraged to consider their use of language in their daily lives and the political undertones that exist within it. Given urges her readers to be thoughtful in their use of vernacular and to not make pronoun assumptions. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty calls for the extinction of phrases such as ‘my other half’. Given argues that by referring to someone as your ‘other half’, the implication is that you are inadequate or unfulfilled without them. In being someone’s other ‘half’, your wholeness is dependent on the existence of someone else, rather than yourself.
Florence Given is moving the conversation forward, not just for women, but for society. This book urges the reader to be thoughtful in their choices and reminds them that self-care is not selfish and should not be a secondary priority. Through this book, Given shows insight into her struggles as a woman who is bisexual and has experienced sexual assault. Given does so to become an ally to those who identify with her experiences and those who cannot but are willing to learn. Not defined by her assault, Given is defining her life using her own unapologetic rulebook and is encouraging her readers to write their own.
By Ruth Williams