Adult Books, Non Fiction Books

Period. It’s About Bloody Time by Emma Barnett – Book Review

Okay so I only picked this up because there was recently a readalong hosted for the book and there were rave reviews. I was skeptical because the author has said some problematic things in the past and honestly this book left me a screaming ball of rage.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

What the book is about: (apparently)

At a time when women around the world are raising their voices in the fight for equality, there is still one taboo where there remains a deafening silence: periods. Period. is an agenda-setting manifesto to remove the stigma and myths continuing to surround the female body. Bold and unapologetic, Emma Barnett is on a crusade to ignite conversation among women–and men–everywhere.

This is yet another white western feminist book that speaks about how enlightened they are and how their view is the correct view. The condescending manner in which she spoke about women of colour and inaccurate religious beliefs and cultural practices just left me incredibly angry. How are you going to write this book which is supposed to be empowering while perpetuating harmful stereotypes and giving false information which people can use as ammunition against people of colour. Utterly disgusting that this was even published and not once questioned as to where she got this information.

She did not in fact list any sources anywhere in the book about where she got the stats she shared or any other information and yet somehow it was published and people are raving about it? Why? This book isn’t even ground breaking, nothing she says is new or even remotely helpful. It’s a vague, trying way too hard to be funny (when she’s not) and just her screaming DON’T BE EMBARRASED SPEAK ABOUT PERIODS. Yes, Emma, but how? Was there anything in there to suggest ways in which to bring up the topic in different situations? Was there any resources for people to go and look up for help? Absolutely nothing. Just her screaming about how we shouldn’t be ashamed of it anymore. So what even was the point of this utterly useless book?

“Factions of Islam believe women shouldn’t touch the Quran, pray or have sexual intercourse with their husbands while menstruating. Muslim women are similarly deemed impure and must be limited in terms of contaminating their faith or their men.”

Who told her this? Because she didn’t learn that from us. The utter rage I felt reading this paragraph and her wording of it. Yes, we do not pray or fast or do certain acts of worship. No it is not because we are impure. No it is not because we are less nor do we find it oppressive. Not having to wake up before sunrise when we are on our period to pray is a blessing from Allah, He gives us a break so we can rest, because we sure as hell aren’t going to get that same level of care and understanding from anyone else. We are also not considered impure. It is a state of ritual impurity, the Quran is sacred and we have to be in a state of ritual purity to touch the Arabic Quran, this is regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. There are several things which cause both men and women to be in a state of ritual impurity and yet she makes it sound like this is an oppression for women. Please calm down with your fake woke attitude we do not need nor want to be ‘saved’ by you. Throughout the book in fact she only ever mentions religion in a negative way, the same goes for any mentions of cultural practices different to her own or people of colour.

She repeatedly tells us that she is educated and living in one of the most advanced societies on earth and yet her opinions show her lack of knowledge of intersectional feminism and even the ability to see that maybe not everyone finds her brand of feminism empowering at all. That her brand of feminism should have died a long time ago and she really needs to go back to school and get up to date on these things. That white western feminism only cares about white middle class women to the detriment of everyone else.

Her privilege oozed out of the pages making me nauseous. She said women need to be taken seriously about their health. How she had suffered from horrible periods and yet she doesn’t see how her white privilege gave her the ability to seek help and be believed. Women of colour don’t get that same treatment. Just saying go to a different doctor as if everyone has that option isn’t exactly helpful information. She shares stories of women who made radical choices that made headline news and uses that as examples of how we should all speak up but she doesn’t see how women are speaking up in so many ways that may not be as radical and not newsworthy.

The constant comparison of the west and developing world using such loaded terms will have an impact on how people view those not living in the ‘privileged’ west. Her words matter and yet not her, nor her editor or any other person who read this before release mentioned it, and that is another example of how she uses her privilege to push her white western feminism that benefits no one except people that look like her. She speaks about how women wanted to show that they are as good as men so anything ‘expressly female’ were downplayed. But again, only white western feminism is calling for this. She speaks as if her brand of feminism is the superior feminist brand and yet is still holding on to things that are decades out of date.

When you are a minority, you don’t want to seem like you are kicking up a stink about something which nobody else fully understands or at the that time felt like they could talk about.

Is she talking about the many minority groups that need their voices uplifted? Nope. She’s talking about Margaret Thatcher, a white woman in a position of power. Now normally I wouldn’t have an issue with this discussion however considering how she dehumanised and othered actual minority groups throughout the book, yes I absolutely do. Words matter, the way you write things matter.

“We have made huge progress on all of these fronts. As I write this, a woman runs the country I live in, another runs the most powerful country in the European Union and sexual harassment is being called out the world over with the hashtag #MeToo”

Okay but does this actually mean we have all benefited from this? Does it mean all people can feel safer about speaking up about sexual harassment? She makes sweeping statements like this to make it sound like there has been huge progress for all. But people of colour haven’t felt that progress, we are still fighting to be able to exist and live safely. Ignoring everything happening to people of colour shows how little she actually cares about anyone who doesn’t look like her.

I also found the book to be so mundane in the things she chose to write about. There are a myriad of complex issues regarding periods and women’s health that should and could have been discussed in a nuanced manner however there is no nuance in this book at all. Some of the issues too seem like she is just saying it to show how woke she is. “Don’t you just hate those patronising aisles in supermarkets which have the label feminine hygiene dangling above them in a halo of fluorescent lighting? Just call a pad a pad already.” Clearly, she doesn’t understand that the aisles have more than just pads. She was also complaining about we don’t have a pad emoji and she has been forced to use the Japanese flag. I just think about all the discussions she could have had about all the very real issues people face all over the world regarding periods and yet she chose to speak about these. Like I get it, it’s part of the shaming that we don’t have these emojis etc but women are literally dying due to so many issues surrounding periods and women’s health. And so much of it is just not touched upon at all.

She did speak about how women don’t always have access to pads or tampons which yes, it does need to be spoken about more but again she just complained about the issue with no real discussion on what can be done about it. Every single complaint she had about lack of awareness or shame or access to pads etc had no real discussion about things that could be done or what is being done with resources listed so people can actually go and find them and help these organisations. Instead of actual resources and sources for her information in the book she decided to list all the different things people have used to call periods. I wouldn’t have minded that if there had been actual sources too to show that her information is accurate because she already showed me she will include false information when I read about what she wrote about Islamic beliefs so how can I actually trust the information she wrote in the rest of the book?

This book left me incredibly angry and not for the reasons it should have. It is full of inaccurate information about religious beliefs. It erases people of colour and how different our fight against shame about periods is. It dehumanises people of colour with her comparisons about how educated she is and how advanced a society she lives in compared to the uneducated people and backwards societies of the developing world. Nothing she speaks about is remotely inspiring or made me want to rage about the injustices and even the writing itself was poor. How this has been published and praised is beyond me. Do yourselves a favour and skip this for other books about periods and empowerment.

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

My Thoughts on Hijab and Red Lipstick by Yousra Imran

This book had me raging. I was sceptical about this when I first heard about it but this book was worse than I thought it would be.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Being a teenager isn’t easy. And it doesn’t help when you have a mega strict Egyptian dad who tells you that everything is “haram” a.k.a. forbidden. All Sara wants to do is experiment with makeup, listen to the latest Destiny’s Child single and read fashion magazines, but her dad’s conservative interpretation of Islam makes it impossible. Things get even harder when her dad lands himself a job in the Arabian Gulf and moves Sara and her family to a country where the patriarchy rules supreme. In a country where you have to have your father’s permission for everything, every door feels like it is being closed on Sara’s future. In a desperate bid for freedom, Sara makes a judgement call that threatens to ruin their dysfunctional father-daughter relationship forever.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Before I share the issues I have with it I want to say that I know this is own voices and while I know that stories of women being treated unjustly should be shared and we need to raise awareness so that things can change, it still does not justify making your personal story that of all women raised in the Gulf.

The story itself was really poorly written as if this was a draft rather than an edited finished copy. It had several time jumps and yet we are not told when exactly the book is set, I had to work it out from things that were mentioned. We are also repeatedly told the family live in the Gulf as if the Gulf is one single country and not made up of many countries each with its own cultural norms and rules. I still am not sure exactly where the book was set. It was frustrating to have to try and work things out and not even know where exactly the book was set.

The author at the end of the book had a page where she said that she later learnt that Islam was very different to the version her father had taught her and that it made her see her faith in a different light. However I don’t think that small statement at the end is good enough when the whole book implies that Islam is the root cause of all her problems and that Arab men in general are all oppressive.

We see the author time and time again show that her father uses hadith to oppress her and treat her unjustly which to someone who hasn’t studied hadith will take them at face value which implies that Islam is implicitly the issue, when it’s that her father is actually twisting words to use to his benefit. In fact every single time Islam is mentioned it’s negatively so I don’t really know what point she was making because it came across as Islam is the issue not that people twisting words to their benefit is the actual issue.

We also see that the author implies that living in a specific part of the world, the Gulf, is the reason for the father becoming oppressive but we see that he was always like this. He always had these inclinations and beliefs. The mother hates having to prepare food for the men that come to see the father in the gulf but doesn’t feel as annoyed by doing the same thing in England because the men there said thank you. So the things the father did didn’t actually change he expected the same thing from his wife but somehow it was okay in England but no in the Gulf.

The father is absolutely oppressive and twists things to suit his benefit and there are men who do this and these things should be called out. I hated every single time he twisted things and treated the women in his family unjustly and even how he treated his sons. That unless there is blind obedience from them they are a disappointment and yet Islam teaches us against this very thing. Blind obedience is not part of Islam and yet this distinction was never made despite her having many opportunities throughout the story. It made me more and more angry that the way the story was spun.

Another issue I had with the book was the constant comparison of how White people are superior to Arabs even mentioning looks. There is one scene where she says her sister is blessed with her mother’s looks (who is White) and that she has a big nose because of her “Arab DNA” and I just hated how she kept implying that White people are superior, that the West is better. She showed it in how the people who embraced western ideals of norm were seen as progressive and those who tried to practice Islam were seen as backwards.

There was just so much Arab hate in this book and it made all women who lived in the Gulf a victim and all men are oppressors. It’s not okay to lump everyone in these two neat sides. There are oppressive men everywhere and yet we don’t claim that every man from there is oppressive so why is it okay to say that about the men in the Gulf. Also it didn’t sit right with me that all women are victimised despite this not being the reality of every woman in the Gulf. There was also some fetishization of Arab men which if it had been a man who did that to a woman would be unacceptable and yet it was okay for her to do and it made it to the final copy?!

I also found the story to only focus on her relationship with men, the way she wanted to dress and that being free meant being westernised and I just had so many issues with it. There’s a line where she says in England a girl becomes a teen when she kisses a boy and I just had to double take because WHAT? What is the point of this message except to show how much “better” it was in the west?

She also was pretty judgemental of other girls and their choices because it wasn’t the same as hers and the whole I’m not like other girls. Shaming them for wanting to wear make up etc and at the same time doing the exact same thing as them, putting make up when she left and taking it off before she got home so her dad wouldn’t see.

We see very little of her life outside of this narrative and it made her a very shallow one dimensional character. The whole time she lived in the Gulf she only showed how awful every single man she meets is and therefore all Arab men are awful and she lumps them all together. Even the scene where she attends a conference where she says she is passionate about women’s rights the focus ends up being on a man she meets. I would have liked to have seen more of her relationship with her siblings which are only mentioned to show how oppressive it is for women and how men become misogynists by living in the Gulf.

I am so tired of these stereotypes being perpetuated and especially that the stories lack nuance.

Monthly Wrap Up

August 2020 Monthly Wrap Up

I had a really great reading month this month and read some incredible books though I have found I find it easier to listen to audiobooks than actually pick up a book. I’ve listened to 6 audiobooks this month! I am loving my scribd subscription so much because of all the audiobooks on there!

If you want to try scribd for two months for free you can use my link which will also give me a month free. This is my link

So here are the books I read this month:

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – I listened to the audiobook and it was incredible! My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – A reread via audiobook and if it’s possible, I loved it even more this time. You can read my review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – I really loved this book. Seeing the point of view of the women was incredible. There is so much of history missing because we only see the male point of view. The audiobook was also great to listen to.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud – I enjoyed this sequel which is full of political intrigue and a young woman who fights for a better life for everyone she knows. My review is here

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan – This book blew my mind! It’s a fantasy inspired by Islamic beliefs and the main character has incredible strength and faith and seeing actual quran verses incorporated into the story was so wonderful to see. My review will be up soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love at First Fight by Sandhya Menon – A great short story set in the dimpleverse.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – Another great nerdy contemporary with a booknerd as a main character! My review is here

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A reread because I love this book and I forgot how much I loved this book and how funny it is. My review is here

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Beauty of her Face by Sahar Mustafah – This is such a poignant and relatable story of Muslim woman who’s school is attacked by a terrorist who goes on a murdering spree, we see flashbacks of her as a young girl who is trying to find her place in the world and how she ends up the woman she is. It is an incredible book and everyone should read it. My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang – This book utterly destroyed me, I am very afraid for the lives of my faves because Rebecca is brutal. My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – This book was such an unexpected surprise. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. One of the MCs is an older woman and a single mother and I loved seeing her be a total badass!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Nyxia Uprising by Scott Reintgen – This was a great conclusion to a great trilogy. Fast paced and intense and I loved the characters so much!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You Must be Layla by Yasmin Abdel-Magied – I was excited to read this but I was a little disappointed. It felt like it needed more editing even though the themes were really interesting and relevant.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

So that’s everything I read this month and clearly I have been handing out 5 stars a lot but these books have been incredible and you should all go read them!

I also shared these blog posts this month:

 My review of Diana and the Island of no Return by Aisha Saeed

My review of Allah Loves by Omar Suleiman

Book recommendations based on Daevabad characters

My favourite quotes from The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

My favourite quotes from The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

Diverse retellings you need to read

My latest post in my Inspiring Muslim Women throughout History. This post is about Hafsah bint Umar (ra) who was the custodian of the Quran.

That’s everything for this month! Have you read any of the books I read? What was your favourite read in August?

Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

Hey booknerds! It’s another Top 5 Wednesday post! This is hosted by Sam over on Thoughts on Tomes where you share you top 5 for the chosen topic for that week. You can check out each weeks topic over on Goodreads.

This weeks topic is my most disappointing reads of 2018.

There’s always books that don’t live up to our expectations and I always feel so sad when they don’t. These are the books I was most disappointed by are:

1 Sky in the Deep – I know everyone seems to love this book but I just couldn’t get into it. I felt like nothing really happened in the book and I was a bit bored.

2 The Surface Breaks – I got bored reading this book and just ended up skim reading most of it

3 To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – I actually preferred the film than the book. Especially didn’t like Kavinsky in the book

4 The Caged Queen – After reading The Last Namsara I was really looking forward to reading this but I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book. I think it was because I didn’t find the main character as interesting.

5 Love, Hate and Other Filters – man this book made me so mad. The Muslim rep was so bad that I still get angry thinking about this book even though I read it a year ago. Seriously do not read this book if you’re looking for Muslim rep.

What books were you disappointed by in 2018?