Tag Archives: politics

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Everyday Sexism is the most important book of the year. I’m not the only person that who thinks so. It’s on the Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist and has received a wealth of critical praise. More importantly, it has inspired conversations about present day sexism and is part of a positive movement for change.

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The Everyday Sexism Project started as a way for women to share their experiences: The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

Laura Bates started the project as she began speaking to her friends about things that had happened to her and asking if they’d experienced anything similar. She thought they might have a smattering of examples, but each began with ‘This week..’ or ‘On the way here…’

The book is arranged thematically, with an informative introduction to each section establishing how things are for women at this moment. Anecdotes are closely linked to the topic and intelligently illustrative. Overall the book is brilliantly written: clear, accessible and honest.

Inclusivity is an important part of the ethos, and the chapter for men and about men is particularly welcome and well written. Consider this from a male contributor:

Unfollowed @EverydaySexism, weary of the constant barrage of horror. Then it clicked. That’s what it must be like being a woman #refollowed

This book should be required reading for all.

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What Will It Take to Make A Woman President? by Marianne Schnall

What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?Hillary Clinton getting the votes in 2016 was a popular answer from Schnall’s interesting range of contributors. Senators, celebrities, writers and campaigners are interviewed in this engaging exploration of women and leadership. The idea came from Schnall’s daughter asking, on the election of Barack Obama, why there hadn’t ever been a female president. The book encourages open contributions – a text of this title could have had a singular argument, or a more essay-style structure. It is creditable that it feels like an ongoing conversation. Responses vary – Republican senators give personal anecdotes of achievement in adversity, while academics talk more broadly of cultural shifts. 

I was most delighted by the general advice of wise feminists. Maya Angelou, for example, said the following: ‘I would encourage us to try our best to develop courage. It’s the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can be anything erratically – kind, fair, true, generous, all that. But to be that thing time after time, you need courage.’

Recurring themes and questions could make this feel a little repetitive if read all at once, but ultimately, this makes it feel more like an authentic discussion, with people sharing and rethinking each other’s ideas. This book is a worthwhile part of a vital conversation about women in politics. 

Have a look at some excerpts here.

Thanks to Perseus Books Group, Seal Press and NetGalley for the review copy. 

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Silver Spooned by Thomas Clark

I don’t love Louise Mensch. In fact, if my life was a superhero comic, I’m pretty sure she would be my nemesis. Consequently, it silver spooneddelighted me that Clark’s first chapter derides her fallacious assertions. The book is a study in political falsehoods, focusing on the justification of current economic policy in the UK. It is an up to date, well researched account of problems with the government’s policies and proposals and the spin that supports them. Moreover, it provides a general explanation of the various forms of fallacious reasoning and deconstructs them with intelligence and skill.

Although the economic examples are UK-centric, the principles apply globally, and there is much to be learnt about British politics through reading this. It is up to the moment, analytic and angry in a way that stays just the right side of vitriolic. The logic is sound and the writing flows easily. The introduction was less smooth, but as soon as Clark was into his main content his confident style came through. Also, I learnt a great deal about the bedroom tax that enlivened dinner conversation this evening.

This book has a clear and vehement political standpoint, which brings me to my reservation about the text. I did a dissertation about the way language is employed in political spin; I am already interested and on side. There is something in the tone of this book, however, that may mean that the people who could benefit from it most would find it too abrasive. In a sense I am concerned Clark may be preaching to the choir,  though perhaps to some agnostics too. Even so, the choir will be for better informed for reading this text.

It is currently free on Smashwords and well worth having a look at.

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Hermione for President: Children’s Characters Who Would be Good World Leaders

Inspired by other brilliant bloggers and the recent US elections, I’ve been thinking: which children’s characters would I put in charge of a country? Here’s my shortlist:

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy from the Narnia Series by C.S Lewis. There are four of them and they ruled over Narnia for aeons- that sounds like the ultimate coalition government to me! Also, they’re incredibly flexible: a talking lion tells them they’re about to be the monarchs of a magical land and they take it in their stride.

Badger from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. He’s wise, reclusive and a bit grumpy, but he takes care of his friends, even when they’re being ridiculous. He resides in the Wild Wood, demonstrating that he’s not afraid of anyone- not even weasels. Also, there definitely wouldn’t be a cull if he was in charge.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Intelligent, strong and single-minded, I’m pretty sure

if J.K Rowling decided to write a ‘where are they now?’ she’d be climbing the greasy pole in the Ministry of Magic.

The Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. W. Awdry. Just because it would be lovely if the trains ran on time! He takes care of business.

I’d love to hear your ideas- let me know who you’d put in charge in the comments!

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