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From: The Socialist issue 990, 11 April 2018: Youth demand a future

Search site for keywords: Sexism - Students - School - Women - Sex - Rape - Feminism

Fiction: The Nowhere Girls

Moving look at school students' many perspectives on sexism

Young women marching against misogyny in Ireland, photo by Rosa

Young women marching against misogyny in Ireland, photo by Rosa   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, East London Socialist Party

'The Nowhere Girls' is written from the perspective of a variety of young women school students at Prescott High School in the US, although it mainly chronicles the three founding members of the Nowhere Girls, Rosina, Erin and Grace.

Their group is set up to fight sexism on campus following the hounding out of town of a gang rape victim the year before.

It's an extremely moving book. The main characters vary in confidence at the beginning and are unsure at first of how their action can combat the sexism they face.

But incensed by the treatment of a former student, they grow in confidence, and their differing ideas about how to challenge misogyny in society become rounded out as they battle to support rape and assault victims in their community.

They draw wider conclusions about sexism as they discuss together their different attitudes towards sex and relationships, and realise it's impossible to avoid sexism by simply changing their own behaviour.

They call a 'sex strike' in protest against young women feeling pressurised into sex, the lack of understanding of consent from young men at the school, and in solidarity with victims who have previously been ignored. They expose the local police, right-wing religious leaders, and school management for their roles in the misogyny students face.

While Amy Reed's novel ends with a kind of victory, it's not a guide to action on fighting sexism. It is fiction, after all. But it is a chance to consider all the different perspectives young women and men can have on sexism and feminism - and their willingness to change the world.

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Article dated 11 April 2018

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