The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (2016)


I am well aware that Amy Schumer’s brand of humor is problematic for many women and men, due in large part to her constant willingness to candidly discuss issues related to sex, body image, drinking, dating, success without concern to how uncomfortable her jokes can make audiences. While this does make her stand up and her television show cringe-worthy at times, it also clearly establishes her as a strident feminist who is unwilling to ignore the paradoxes of modern womanhood: be sexy and not slutty; appreciate your body as it is but work tirelessly to change it; stop worrying about pleasing men but make sure that their pleasure is secretly more important than your own; strive for success but be self-depreciating when it is achieved.

That said, if you find her comedy unappealing, you will might not enjoy this book. However, I feel that it is important for readers to remember that Schumer is using her unconventional and purposefully vulgar sense of humor to say important things about being a woman and it is only because of her trademark lack of decorum that her ideas are being heard. Had she stuck with being more ladylike, she might be more palatable but then a lot of the feminist issues she is raising would continue to remain unexplored.

“This book has no self-help info or advice for you. I’m a flawed fuckup and I haven’t figured anything out, so I have no wisdom to offer you. But I can help you with is showing you my mistakes and my pain and my laughter.” From the introduction to The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.

In her first book of essays, Schumer does not disappoint her fans: she displays the same irreverence for propriety, the same disregard for rules, and she tackles issues (dating, orgasms, rape, abuse ) that women often shy away from discussing. And, of course, she does so while being at times vulgar but always very, very funny.

What may surprise potential readers, as it did me, was the fact that many of her stories are not at all scandalous or obscenity riddled. Many are touching, heartfelt accounts of experiences in her life. She talks candidly about what it is like to be rich after years of barely getting by; she shares the hard truth about her first non-consensual sexual experience and her abusive relationship; she tells of the relentlessness of making it in comedy and the extra work she had to put in because she is a woman; she talks honestly about break ups and illness and her intense need for solitude…all essays are that thought-provoking and powerful without being at all incendiary. But there are some racy essays too, because, let’s face it this is Amy Schumer and raunchy is her bread and butter.

A fun, fast read that made me like and appreciate her even more than I already did.



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