Misogynies

Catherine Redfern reviews Joan Smith's book

, 16 June 2001

Joan Smith is a British writer who believes that we live in a very misogynistic society; one in which men hate and fear women: “we live in circumstances which not only restrict our freedom but physically threaten us if we step out of line: in this culture, the penalty for being a woman is sometimes death.” Blimey!

It’s worth reminding ourselves that we’re not necessarily living happily ever after in our cosy post-feminist world

Statements like this will inevitably put some women off reading this book. “Hm, bit too radical,” they might say, and put it back on the shelf. Well, I can relate to that, but I can tell you that this book is worth reading. First, it deals with British issues and situations. Second, the book is made up of 18 short essays which are very easy to read. You can read one, digest, and move on to the next. The book itself is quite short and won’t take you long. Thirdly, Joan Smith is a very good writer; she is intelligent and perceptive. Example: “Three or four times a year, we in Britain go through a ritual known as Outcry Over Judge’s Remarks In Rape Case.”

Too true! Four, whether you go as far as Joan in believing society is deeply, inherently misogynistic or not, some of things she talks about will make your blood run cold. It’s worth reminding ourselves that we’re not necessarily living happy ever after in our cosy post-feminist world, but that there are certain aspects of society that still, unbelievably, hate and fear women. Some of the essays are better than others, some convince more than others, but overall the book is worth a read.

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