New review: The Equality Illusion

// 27 February 2010

Do you think feminism’s job is done? Kat Banyard’s book will remove your rose-tinted glasses, says Jess McCabe

equalityillusioncover.jpgThe Equality Illusion, subtitled The Truth About Women & Men Today, aims to blow away the myth that feminism’s work is over, and gender equality has been achieved.

As editor of a feminist website, I am perhaps not the ideal reviewer; I don’t need convincing. Nevertheless, in as much as I can judge, Kat Banyard makes good headway in shredding the misconception that we’re in a post-feminist utopia, backed up with references, studies and many interviews.

Her book is loosely structured to show how sexist oppression affects women from the moment the alarm goes off in the morning (beginning with body image issues) through to the end of the day with a chapter on ‘Bedroom Politics’, covering some of the ground of reproductive justice, such as abortion access and sex education. The book closes with a chapter on ‘Tomorrow’, outlining examples of what activists are doing to address the problems she highlights in the book, with guidance on how to get involved and Kat’s own policy ideas.

Banyard combines often heartbreaking interviews with girls and women with a battery of statistics and studies to demonstrate the issues that these individuals face are common and take place in a broader political context. This is by no means an easy book to read; one chapter piles on top of another creating a cumulative impression of just how bad the situation is. As I made my way through the book, the interviews and descriptions of various forms of violence against women became unrelenting. (This was exacerbated because, stylistically, The Equality Illusion sometimes reads more like a policy report than a book for a general readership.)

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