EVERYDAY SEXISM by Laura Bates
Published by Simon & Schuster, April 2015, 384 pages, £7.00
This book is absolutely AMAZING. I recommend it wholeheartedly. I think it should accompany school curriculum. I think every young man and woman should read it. I think copies should be distributed to walkers by in the street. I think if everybody read it the world would be a little better. But its not. And that’s why this book was made. EVERYDAY SEXISM is a project founded by Laura Bates that allows women to express their continued frustration with sexism of all monstrous shapes; the subtle, the gross, the accepted, and the endless. Bates created an online space (www.everydaysexism.com @everydaysexism) which people can share stories and motivate each other to take action. I have shared a few comments. Because sexism is everywhere. And it’s the sneaky ones that happen, get ignored and you realize it a few years later, which are potentially the worst. It means that sexism is normalized.
Bates and a new generation of feminists are on the war-path to strip down whatever you were brought up to think was normal.
This book covers the spectrum of society. It is held by the prism that is infected- social, economic and political. It address education, work, marriage, children, race. It goes through women in media, women in politics, and women portrayed in culture. Each chapter complies a list of tweets, shocking stories shared by the public and factual accounts researched by the author. These are indeed shocking stories, that will leave your mouth gaping at the indecency, the disrespect and the sadness that so many women and men have had to endure. The book highlights the daily jibes to the physical violence. There were so many issues that I had no idea about (which only means there’s so much more). And so many things that got me doing a U-turn. Like why was the media obsessed with Princess Kate’s post-pregant body? And yeah, why do people joke about men and child care?
This book is charged. Its more than just bounded paper. It’s voices that are getting louder.
Let’s hope it wakes a lot of people up and motivate them to see through a change. Believe it or not, I was actually a little worried about reading this in public. I was worried what people would think. Feminism has always gone through an ‘F-word’ stage. But my worry only validates the book even more. Why should I be conscious of what I read. I should be able to read whatever the hell I want!
Be warned though, this book will make you angry. It will get your face all screwed up and maybe even red with anger. And no- we won’t cheer up, take your darlin’ and shove it-.
THE BEAUTY MYTH by Naomi Wolf
Published by Vintage, September 1991, 348 pages, £7.69
Beauty is a construct. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We can all agree with these statements. But how far are we really going to agree? Naomi Wolf does just that. She argues that beauty was created as a means to control women for political reasons. Can this really be true? Wolf believes so. And she argues it, with research, dates and statistics, fiercely. Wolf gets a lot of flak for being too far-fetched. There are some statements I am not sure about. For example, beauty being advertised more fervently to counter any political success women have made, like getting the vote. In my opinion, beauty is just a chameleon that adapts with time.
Whether or not you agree that beauty is in the hands of rich powerful men, or dieting is like a religious cult, or professional women are pressured to be sexy, any woman would agree that beauty does to some extent imprisons them.
Why do some of us have a go-to technician for our eye-brows? Why do we need to think about anti-aging creams as we near thirty? Let’s think hard about why we ACTUALLY need to wear make-up.
But it’s not just that. Its the fact that, even after reading this book, I still wear it. Once you come to this level of realization, then some of Wolf’s theories will blow your mind.
VAGINA by Naomi Wolf
Published by Virago, December 2013, 512 pages, £9.98.
A very striking cover to match a very striking book. I was also conscious about reading this in public. I still think the ‘vagina’ can only really be referenced academically or medically. Otherwise, there is a whole array of distasteful nicknames used for it. I’m glad Naomi Wolf decided to read a book about it. She draws a firm connection between the vagina and the brain. This means that sex affects creativity, intellect and mental balance for a woman. Like The Beauty Myth she pulls out all the research, the stats, the scientific terminology which does get a bit confusing. But I do admit I agree with her. She claims that women have a more deeply ingrained emotional and mental relationship with their reproductive system than men. Chemicals, hormones and nerves form part of this complex system.
I think the book can be quite repetitive and you can tell that some of the theories are based on personal experience. Most chapters go back to confirm but repeat the above theory. However, I liked learning about the history of the vagina, which I actually knew very little of. My favorite chapter was the ‘Vagina began as Sacred’ in earliest western records and how it became ‘profane’, ‘shameful’ and ‘hateful’. I think the various cultural references to the vagina and its connection to language fascinating.
The term hysteria- hyster- comes from the Greek word for ‘womb’ (173).
HOW TO BE A WOMAN by Caitlin Moran
Published by Ebury Press, June 2011, 312 pages, £6.29
Honestly, I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. I like to read Moran’s columns now and then. I think she is FUNNY and has an envious affinity with words. This book was a bit too rude and squeamish for me. I still think it was try-to-control-yourself-in-public hilarious though. Moran basically rambles about her life from her first period up until the present. She stops off on the way to re-visit sex, beauty, marriage and childbirth. She talks about how she tried to figure out and is still figuring, what it means to be a woman, and how bloody hard it is.
It’s hard to take most of the book seriously. It’s like having a tipsy chat with Moran at the pub. However, at the end of each section, she switches it up and lays down some solid arguments about sexism. I liked how she attacks marriage and how it is supposed to be the climax of a woman’s life. She talks about the fury of being told to ask women she was interviewing (as a music journalist) when they were going to have children. It just really needed to be in there, claimed her editor. I also admired how she explains her unashamed decision for an abortion.
Feminism is about having a vagina and wanting to take charge of it
I feel like the majority of bad press books like these get comes from thinking readers will start adopting the beliefs of the author to the minute detail. (What are you exactly panicking about?). Have a little respect. Nobody reads something and then gets ‘brainwashed’ by every single theory. Its about listening to another voice and seeing something through another’s eyes. Only then can you hear your own voice and see something you want to share.
Happy reading xx