A review of Grazia Salon's Q&A with Polly Vernon on the launch of her feminist manifesto, Hot Feminist .

Hot Feminist

Definition: One who care greatly about the way she looks and greatly about the rights of women, feels that neither concern is compromised by the other – would indeed go as far as to say each reinforces the other; so don’t go telling her it doesn’t work like that, unless you’re up for a fight.

Example: She who routinely wears leather trousers to work because she knows their overtly sexy vibe freaks out male colleagues, rendering them vulnerable.

Stop rolling your eyes and muttering ‘Another bloody book about feminism’ – this is not what you think. Are you a bit jaded by the whole movement of late? Fed up of being told how you should be a feminist? Are you dying to comment on some Everyday Sexism posts with a ‘Hey, I don’t mind a wolf whistle now and again’ but fear the backlash? Ever get the feeling that there’s only one accepted way to go about gaining equal rights for feminism and it doesn’t involve enjoying taking a pride in your appearance? Basically, are you suffering Feminist Fatigue? So was Polly Vernon, author of Hot Feminist, so she went out and wrote the book she’d be waiting for someone else to write!

Part manifesto, part memoir, part road map, Hot Feminist is a brave new perspective on the quest for equality – it is modern feminism, with style, without judgement. It’s also very f**king funny. The reviews from the broadsheets aren’t the most complimentary but if you’re anything like me, that should make you want to read it even more.

To celebrate the release of Polly’s debut book, Grazia Salon hosted an intimate Q&A about fashion and feminism; the Hot Feminist being grilled by Telegraph columnist and The Wrong Knickers author, Bryony Gordon. Together, they put the (feminist) world to rights and led a refreshing discussion for anyone who’s been perplexed by the effort going into banning Page 3 when women are still paid so much less than men. Girls, men are making a bucket load more money than us for the same jobs – I’m not about putting high earning glamour models out of business to be quite honest with you; bigger fish to fry and all that.

And that feeling sums up a lot of the night’s chat – Polly’s brand of feminism focusses on not sweating the small stuff. Wolf whistles don’t bother her, the gender pay gap does. Call her babe? She won’t bite your head off – however, if you don’t believe women should have easy access to abortion she may well do. While some women want to discuss whether wearing heels is feminist, she wants to chat about the fact 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes and how the f**k we can change that?

“I quite like being called ‘babe’. Let it go, there are bigger things that fuck me off. If it bothers you, that’s fine, I won’t stop you – I’ll just sit this one out. I’m not sweating the small stuff. It seems you can only have an opinion as long as you’re the victim. Sometimes we’re spending time worrying about how to please other feminists and worrying what they’ll think – what the fuck’s all that about?”

Women in full-time employment earn 15.7pc less than men (adding up to a pay difference of £5,200 a year between the genders) and this pisses Polly (and every other woman I suspect) off.

“The world doesn’t seem to think women are worth as much as we are. I’ve been working for a long time and I’m owed a damn lot. I like buying things – I want equal pay!! The only reason I can see for men being paid more than women is the cost of having a penis must be incredibly high – ‘The Penis Upkeep Grant’ I call it.”

While I can’t say I agree with absolutely every single thing mooted by Polly (but there’s a damn lot I do), whatever your stances on feminism, you cannot deny it’s not friggin’ brilliant to hear a woman talk candidly and honestly about rape, abortion and consent.  Listening to a woman discuss the fact she’s had three abortions, with absolutely no shame, was incredible – it’s 2015, why is there still a stigma around terminating unwanted pregnancies? And why do some women struggle to get access to abortions? If more women spoke as freely about their experiences like Polly maybe that could start end the taboo of abortion?

The best quote of the night, without doubt, was this:

“Don’t sleep with boys that aren’t feminists.”

Honestly, don’t. From my experience, misogynistic pigs tend to be bad in bed.

Buy Hot Feminist.

See also: Why I’m So Here for Beyonce the Feminist