For everyone Book review: Difficult Women

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★★★★★
Helen Lewis

This fantastic new feminist text from British journalist Helen Lewis starts by rejecting the assumption that, if we want to change the world, we should only work with people we like. She argues that instead of simply castigating any revolutionaries who don’t live up to impossible standards of purity, perfection and niceness, we should focus on our common goals.

Her lively, bold and very funny book happily paints occasionally unpretty portraits of women who have changed history across 11 vital fights – for the vote, for the right to divorce, for the opportunity to compete in team sports, for sexual liberation – without feeling obliged to “airbrush the difficult bits”.

Sprinkled with personal reflections (the book opens with Lewis discussing her own divorce), these histories of conflicts are an inspiring reminder of what’s possible when woman work together, united as a class, and how much the feminist movement owes to women who – from a narrow (and sometimes ageist) 21st century viewpoint, at least – might appear difficult to love.


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