Monday 4 November 2013

Book Review: What Women Want by Nelly Thomas

Growing up in post-feminist Australia, Nelly Thomas, one of Australia’s most gifted and natural comedians, was told she could ‘have it all’. She’s giving it a crack – but she still isn’t quite sure what ‘it’ is. What do women want?

In pursuit of answers, Thomas has tried being a telemarketer, a professional student, a fast-food worker, a broadcaster, a smoker, a prostitute’s confidant, a health advocate, a reality television obsessive, a mother, a partner (or is it girlfriend? lover?), an award-winning comedian, a sex-educator, a Loony Lefty Feminista and a self-confessed fatty boombah. Like many of her generation, she’s had a lot of options, yet she’s wondering – which do you choose?

In this hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto, Thomas navigates the murky waters of her life and womanhood in the twenty-first century. She tackles the big contemporary issues – career, equality, family, porn, sex, entertainment, obesity, parenting, culture, class, Beyonce’s derriere – with customary insight and a wickedly dry wit. A must-read for the modern Aussie woman. 

I read What Women Want by Nelly Thomas as part of two reading challenges - the Australian Women Writers Challenge and the Eclectic Reader Challenge which called for a 'humour' book. And boy was this book overflowing with humour! I was laughing out loud the entire time.

I wasn't familiar with Nelly Thomas before picking up this book, but its safe to say she has a new fan. Right from the first paragraph of this memoir/manifesto I knew I'd be rolling with laughter while reading this book. And that's exactly what happened. Not only is Thomas a fabulous comedian, I found myself relating to her and her worldview a lot. There are some things we don't agree on, but overall I could see where she is coming from on all the big life issues.

Thomas discusses big themes in her book - parenting, feminism, sex, culture, politics, equality - and all are done with her own brand of wit. I enjoyed this book because it was about more than just the jokes. The book got me thinking about my own views on all these issues.

I like that Thomas works as a comedian in the health sector by giving sexual-health seminars to teenagers. She's making a difference...through comedy. That's a beautiful example of how we can all use our jobs to help others. It just goes to show that there is a place in this world for everyone's unique skills and that no matter how out of the ordinary your job may be, you can still use it to change the world.

One particular idea that runs throughout Thomas' book is that we should all just give each other a break. I wholeheartedly agree. In the modern first-world we're fortunate to have a variety of choices. Whichever choice we make with considered thought, in an effort to improve our lives and find joy, is the right choice for us. We need to stop judging others who make different choices. After all, the majority of people in this world are decent human beings just trying to make the most of the life they've been given. As long as we're not hurting others then the details don't really matter.

Wasting valuable energy, time and resources on nitpicking against the choices other people make is, to quote Nelly herself, "bullshit, mate". Far better to mind our own business and, to quote another inspirational comedian and woman - Ellen DeGeneres - "be kind to one another."

Nelly Thomas' memoir/manifesto is thought-provoking and absolutely hilarious. I can't recommend it highly enough. A brilliant read!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't ever heard of her either but this book sounds like a fun read.
    Thanks for sharing your review.
    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out