“Define ourselves first, and reflect last.“
Amber Tamblyn writes the modern feminist book that everyone needs to read: she’s candid, thoughtful, funny and unapologetically herself.
I’ve always admired Tamblyn, and even as a kid I followed her as a young child actress. She has grown into a mother, partner, director, feminist and activist. Tambyln is active on social media, sharing relatable, real-life stories and, based on what I read in her latest book, is always working on ways to evolve.
In Era of Ignition, Tamblyn opens with a harrowing experience, jumping right into her decision to have an abortion a few years back. She thoughtfully details where she was in her life, how she was feeling, and how it affected her relationship with her husband, actor David Cross. Where Tamblyn was in her life at that time led her down a road of self-discovery, and much of that discovery lead her to writing Era of Ignition.
“A personal look at big picture questions, Era of Ignition reminds us how powerful, exhausting, and confusing it can be to go through life as a human woman. A mad, frank, tender, and very good read, written with love by a writer who loves you.”—Amy Poehler, New York Times bestselling author of Yes, Please and a comedian you know and love.
From supporting Hillary Clinton in both her presidential campaigns to her directorial debut as a young woman, Tambyln’s story resonated with me in ways I didn’t expect. I listened to Era of Ignition as an audiobook while taking long, chilly walks with my newborn (before the pandemic started- now I have both kids at home so extra long walks aren’t happening at the moment!) and couldn’t jot down as many notes as I would have liked. Tamblyn covers many topics like abortion, postpartum education (I could not agree with her more on the need for more postpartum education!), abuse and harassment, motherhood, women in the workplace, toxic masculinity, female farmers, trans rights, and educating men, to name a few.
However, there was one topic I was able to write down some summarizing thoughts on while feeding my son: White Feminism.
Tamblyn discusses the pejorative term “white feminist” and expresses that it is our responsibility to actually see race, to see black and brown women for what they are, and white women for what they are. This seems counterintuitive to what we have been taught, but the way Tamblyn explains it makes sense: white women are reactionary and defensive. We are often so sure that we aren’t judging or discriminating based on colour. But truth be told, white women are looking out for themselves most often, and are advocating for white women (and may not even realize it). Our white women defensiveness is our whiteness speaking on our behalf.
Tamblyn discusses: what can we do about white feminism and how do we overcome it?
Step aside and listen, more than we talk. This is actually what we are asking men to do in the #METOO moment. We need to understand that everyone’s problems are different and there are a variety of layers to being a woman; women from different backgrounds have their own set of issues they are trying to overcome.
We must all do our own digging. How can we be better allies? How do we define allyship?* We have linked arms to fight civil and class rights, except for the sisters who have been left behind. We need to practice what we preach when fighting systems of power and think long and hard about how we have also benefitted from them. We need to stop turning a blind eye.
Guest author Airea D. Matthews offers her researched take on black and white women feminism: “Working together means wrestling with our differences in order to understand the ways in which we contribute to each other’s oppressions. Working together will never mean prioritizing the needs of white women…”
F*cking up isn’t the problem. Not trying and not learning from our mistakes is the problem.
…”Accepting one another as being distinct, equal, free, human and here… for good.”
I wish I could have put together a review that covered all of the compelling arguments Tamblyn discusses in her book, but instead of re-reading the book at this very moment in order to do so, I thought it would be more effective to give you a taste of what the book entails so you can read it for yourself. I highly recommend Era of Ignition and hope you enjoy Tamblyn’s strong-willed nature and persistent attitude towards creating a better world for women, meaning a better world for all.
*What is allyship? Allyship is: a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. not self-defined—work and efforts must be recognized by those you are seeking to ally with.