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March 2018

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Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism by Laura Bates

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Three Stars

Best for: Those looking for some (usually UK-based) facts and figures about sexism women face, in short essay form.

In a nutshell: Creator of Everyday Sexism Project Bates shares her thoughts on a few different ways women deal with misogyny in their daily lives.

Worth quoting:
“The repeated use of the word ‘distracting’ centres the needs of men and boys above those of the girls, and suggests that girls’ bodies are powerful and dangerous, impacting on boys and teachers, whose behaviour is implicitly excused as inevitable.”
“If you suggest that someone who is experiencing it shuts down their social media accounts or stops speaking out, you’re suggesting their freedom should be curtailed because of someone else’s abusive behavior. In fact, you are unintentionally helping the abuser.”
“You can’t judge a woman on her weight AND get angry if she orders a salad — that’s just counter-intuitive. Try to work out in advance which sexist stereotype is most important to you, and stick with it.”

Why I chose it: I read her previous book and enjoyed it.

Review: This book is pretty good. I didn’t find it to be as well done as her previous book, but still worth a read. It is a collection of previously-published material, and while it was all new to me (I’m not sure where they appeared — perhaps on her website? As guest editorials? Or maybe she has her own column in a paper here?), it does seem to be a bit of cheat to fill an entire book with previous content, add in maybe ten very short introductory chapters before each grouping, and then still charge full price. Perhaps that’s a standard publishing idea, and I’m certainly not mad at her for getting paid, I just was looking for something a bit deeper with this.

That said, many of the sections are strong reads. Much of what she writes about won’t be news to women, or to men who are paying attention, but I do think it still rises beyond 101-level feminism. And, as I’ve said before, 101-level isn’t bad, it’s just not usually what I’m looking for in a book. I appreciate the effort put into grouping the essays into related content, and I also appreciate the humour Ms. Bates brings to what can be an overwhelming and depressing topic. It wasn’t a slog to read through this book, which itself is a bit of a feat considering the subject.

One side note – I really wish authors would stop having Caitlin Moran blurb their books. She’s said so many problematic things about race, and about trans people (and without any sort of remorse or apology that I’ve ever found – but as always, I’d be happy to be shown otherwise). She’s like the Lena Dunham of authors. And there are just so many more interesting feminists I’d like to hear from, even on book covers.

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