The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks definitely highlights the issues still prevalent in today’s society with gender equality – rather the lack of – but it manages to do it in a way that is negative towards nearly all the other female characters in the book. Frankie deems her roommate to be lesser than her because she enjoys baking, more so than impressing a bunch of idiotic boys for no reason, which is exactly where a lot of issues with equality stem from – seeing someone as lesser because they enjoy what have been deemed ‘feminine’ qualities. It’s bullshit.
Frankie finding her worth only in being the same as the boys and accepted by them just doesn’t strike me as equality – it’s not about being deemed ‘worthy’ by someone else. Why isn’t she awesome just for being her? Just as she is? She has some good, solid ideas regarding feminism and equality but so many of them come from a want to infiltrate herself into every aspect of Matthew’s life – most of the time she’s just a silly fifteen year old using big words and trying to be smarter than she is, and that’s fine if you’re not being presented as an incredible figure of genius, of ingenuity and equality, which seems to be the message a lot of people are taking from this book. A lot of the time it doesn’t seem for equality’s sake but Frankie’s desire to have her own way all the time – it’s about power, not equality.
Do what you want, Frankie, but don’t think less of other girls for not being as power mad as you and not wanting to be ‘one of the guys’. You are not better than them. People are people and a woman is not lesser because she likes to bake or wear a full face of make-up. You just can’t give a book credit as being feminist when it is incredibly sexist – Frankie is sexist, the narrator is sexist and every male character I encountered was sexist. Frankie’s thoughts on joining the girls field hockey team at the end sum her up really:
‘It was the girls’ team.
Boys didn’t even play field hockey.
Boys thought nothing of field hockey.
Frankie was not interested in playing a sport that was rated as nothing by the more powerful half of the population.’
Really? Well fuck you, Frankie.
It only gets three stars because it is incredibly readable and an interesting book when you don’t read too far past the surface message of Frankie messing with a bunch of boys and outdated patriarchal ideals; I think I would have liked it a lot more when I was younger. I liked Zada and Trish, though.
Read: March 24th-25th 2015