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Essays tell about being ‘Young & Feminist’

Will Richmond
Newton North High School senior Abby Richmond.

Abby Richmond of Newton has donated more than $8,000 to the nonprofit organizations Reading is Fundamental, The Nature Conservancy, Music & Youth Initiative, and She’s the First through sales of her four self-published books of fiction.

For her new book, a collection of essays titled “Young & Feminist,” the senior recruited 19 female, male, and genderqueer classmates at Newton North High School to share their experiences and perspectives. To date, proceeds from the sale of $10 paperback copies have raised $1,700 for Planned Parenthood.

Richmond, an officer of Newton North’s Feminism Club, said she wasn’t planning to write another book until the school rally she helped organized to commemorate International Women’s Day last March. She is also founder of Teens4Hillary.com, founder and president of Newton North’s online opinion magazine Tiger’s Eye, and a communications intern for Jewish Women’s Archive.

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“I watched, awestruck, as students of all backgrounds, ages, and genders shared personal stories of street harassment, body shaming, sexist language in classrooms, and the double sting of misogyny and racism,” Richmond writes in the introduction. “Our voices are strong and fresh and capable of making change.”

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The 130-page anthology addresses sexism, genderqueer pronouns, mothers in the workforce, rape culture, intersectionality, Islamophobia, and the damaging stereotype of the “oppressed” Muslim woman.

In her own essay, “Unlikable,” Richmond recalls her shock at being labeled a “feminazi” by a male classmate during a discussion about women’s rights in the seventh grade. She argues that the classification of outspoken women as “unlikable” on the campaign trail, as well as in society as a whole, is rooted in gender.

Richmond said she was impressed by her peers’ enthusiastic commitment to the project, despite the pressure of SATs and other school demands.

“It’s hard as a young person to find a place where you can do something to make an impact,” she said. “I want this book to give these teen activists a platform so that readers see we have strong voices and insights, and that equality is important to support regardless of who you are or how you identify.”

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“Young & Feminist” is available at Amazon.com and at Harvest Fair on Sunday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Newton Centre Green. For more information, visit abbyrichmondbooks.com.

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.