Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson

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Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Em Richardson
Reviewed by Em Richardson
Summary: A witty and entertaining, but also moving, account of the struggles real women face in today's society. A must read for anyone interested in feminism, especially younger women.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471156908

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Can I Speak to Someone in Charge?, blogger Emily Clarkson's debut book, is a fierce, witty and laugh-out-loud funny ode to feminism. In a series of open letters, she addresses the issues faced by every modern woman, discussing everything from dealing with body hair to being made to feel uncomfortable in the gym, as well as more personal issues, like her experiences of being 'catfished' and sent abuse online. This is a vital read for any girl born in the 1990s, tackling some very serious social injustices beneath its fun exterior.

With regards to the actual subjects covered in Clarkson's letters, if you can think of it, she's probably written about it! She achieves the perfect mix of funny letters, sad letters, light-hearted letters, and letters focused on serious social issues. The result is that the reader can go straight from feeling emotional and unnerved to laughing aloud, such as when 'Dear the Person Who Catfished Me', a serious account of a teenage Clarkson's experiences of being tricked into an online 'friendship' with someone who was not who they said they were, is followed by 'Dear Prosecco', a humorous account of many a drunken adventure. The mixture of so many different subjects and tones ensures the book never becomes either overbearingly serious or excessively light-hearted, and that it is able to convey its serious underlying message, whilst still thoroughly entertaining the reader.

Said underlying message is, of course, centred around feminism, and the fact women in today's society are still not truly equal to their male counterparts, in areas ranging from the fact they are often paid less, to the fact they are expected to spend twice as long on personal grooming. Yet, there are other political messages in here too, and not just in the chapter addressed to Donald Trump. I particularly enjoyed hearing someone finally discuss the divisions within the feminist movement, between members with different views and backgrounds, that I have so often noticed but so seldom seen discussed. It's far from a political rant, but it is refreshing to see political issues being touched upon by such a young, fresh face, in a way that is sure to inspire teens and young women who might never have thought about politics, or indeed feminism, before to get involved.

Clarkson's voice is certainly an inspiring one, and this book will certainly empower female readers. I liked the way she is able to use her wit whilst still conveying a serious point, and I even loved the way she is opinionated and foul-mouthed throughout the book, as, aside from the fact it is often very funny, her forceful language simply serves to convey how passionate she is about her beliefs, something any opinionated young woman is sure to admire.

Best of all is the fact Clarkson does indeed manage to empower and enthuse the reader, and is the perfect role model for young activists. It would be easy for a book on feminism to turn into little more than a tirade about how hard it is to be a woman in today's society (the reason I, personally, wasn't too fond of Laura Bates's Everyday Sexism). However, Clarkson really does inspire the reader by pointing out that, yes, there are issues faced by women in today's society, but that, no, these issues are not insurmountable. She strives to find the light at the end of the tunnel- even Trump's presidency which, she quite rightly points out, can be seen as having shown positive examples of what happens when activists unite to fight for their beliefs.

Even when Clarkson does point out some of the issues women face, she always strives to find a solution to them, be it encouraging Topshop to stock larger sizes or even just encouraging us to think positively and ignore online trolls. By the end of the book, I can guarantee you'll want to encourage the world to act on these suggestions even if, like me, your interest in the feminist movement is a relatively recent development. This is also a must-read for anyone who has considered becoming involved with feminism in the past, but has been deterred by long, pretentious tales of the oppression of all of female kind. This really is an extraordinarily sassy book, written by an ordinary girl aiming to encourage other ordinary women to take a stand against sexism - something it certainly achieves!

In terms of further reading, I'd obviously like to direct readers over to Clarkson's amazing blog, but anyone who would like to hear more about the history of the feminist movement, and how it evolved into the activism women like Clarkson encourage today, might enjoy Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism by Kira Cochrane (editor).

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Buy Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson at


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