The class book review: Girl Up, by Laura Bates

Emma Davies

News article image

Title: Girl Up
Author: Laura Bates
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK

Teacher review

Controversy reigned in the school library as soon as Girl Up arrived in the post. It was banned for review by all years groups except Year 13, who duly refused to have anything to do with it.

Girl Up was instantly deemed unsuitable for distribution within the school library because of the satirical and outrageous delivery of the subject matter. Pictures of dancing ladyparts would not be accepted by the majority of parents.

However, as a parent of teenage girls myself, I can certainly commend the straightforward manner in which the subjects covered within Girl Up are delivered. I felt the contents were an important part of growing up and coming to terms with all aspects of your identity, including sexuality and how today’s society regards women – although the significance of the content was outshone by the shock factor of the delivery.

book review, laura bates, girl up, everyday sexism

Girl Up is the sort of book you can dip in and out of, depending on your mood or as the situations arise. Body image, social media, sexuality, feminism – Girl Up has it covered.

Laura Bates backs up all her advice and information with expert opinion, resources and ways to gain further information if required. Girl Up is the sort of book that SHOULD be read by all young women, as it aids self-confidence and accepting yourself for who you are. Isn’t that what all parents want for their daughters – to be confident, happy, well rounded young women, not afraid of who they are and not letting society define them based on their gender? However, I think the shock factor will prevent it from reaching the majority of the target market.

Girl Up provides an invaluable resource for young women. Putting aside the crudeness, the information is fascinating. I do feel the book is more suited to young women rather than the teen market. Personally, I liked the sass and sarcasm of the narrative but could have done without the excessive cursing. Again, that is personal choice. But it does limit the target market, as I’ve already stated – the book was banned from general access the moment it arrived in school.

Emma Davies is school librarian at Cowbridge Comprehensive School

Pupil review

The book Girl Up, written by Laura Bates, deals with everyday sexism. It covered a wide range of feminist topics. I felt the book was mainly aimed at teenagers 13+, as it contains a high amount of mature language and mature themes. Despite reading the warning at the start, about this book not being polite and giving “no fucks”, I greatly enjoyed reading it.

It gave a vast variety of information based on sensitive topics in society. However, I felt she approached all serious issues with a unique and fun attitude. I also found that Laura Bates was definitely able to connect with the reader through her writing, nearly all the time adding humour to make it hilarious to read and lightening any serious topics. This stopped it from being a cringy and completely serious book that made you think it was just another adult relaying information to you.

To add to this, Laura Bates also gives support and advice on some honest issues, such as social media, mental health and body image. Her humorous writing also makes it seem like you are personally listening to her, as her sarcasm and personality really shine through in her writing.

My only issue with the book is that I believe it could have reached a wider audience of women (I want to mention men, too. However, I am fully aware that the title of the book is Girl Up) by covering topics such as teenage pregnancy, women with kids or pensioners (however, with pregnancy I was aware we were told how to avoid it and to be safe with sex). By adding these types of people, Laura Bates could have helped show that not all women with kids are stay-at-home mums, that not all pensioners hate the younger generation and that teenage parents can get a higher education.

However, the book was great for jumping back and forth in, especially if you wanted to cheer yourself up by looking at a picture of a pair of jugs or lovely melons. It was also great for giving you easy-to-understand, clearly bullet-pointed advice that wasn’t lost somewhere in a paragraph.

Laura Bates went head-first into her chosen topics on sexism. She also took on humour to make it fun, which I thought was nice to see in a book, especially if some of the topics she was discussing, such as sex and porn, were not something you discussed often with friends or family.

All in all, I thought It was a great way to teach girls (and boys) about what they are going to face in society and how to handle it. I also immensely enjoyed the drawings and found they were very creative and slightly on the weird side – but that made this book stand out for me.

Amy Olding is in Year 10. She received parental consent to review Girl Up.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook


Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Emma Davies

Latest stories

Arts squeeze out

Why arts subjects were hit so hard in the pandemic

Recent data from the ONS revealed surprising insights into how badly hit arts subjects were by the pandemic - and how hard the return to school has been too, as James O'Malley investigates
James O'Malley 25 Oct 2021