Difficult Women A History of Feminism in 11 Fights
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Feminism’s success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. Helen Lewis argues that too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in our modern search for feel-good, inspirational heroines. It’s time to reclaim the history of feminism as a history of difficult women.
In this book, you’ll meet the working-class suffragettes who advocated bombings and arson; the princess who discovered why so many women were having bad sex; the pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men’s rights activist; the ‘striker in a sari’ who terrified Margaret Thatcher; the wronged Victorian wife who definitely wasn’t sleeping with the prime minister; and the lesbian politician who outraged the country. Taking the story up to the present with the twenty-first-century campaign for abortion services, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished – and unfinished – history of women’s rights.
Drawing on archival research and interviews, Difficult Women is a funny, fearless and sometimes shocking narrative history, which shows why the feminist movement has succeeded – and what it should do next. The battle is difficult, and we must be difficult too.
Helen Lewis is a staff writer at the Atlantic, and a former deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, New York Times and Vogue. She is a regular host of BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster, a regular panellist on the News Quiz and Saturday Review, and a paper reviewer on The Andrew Marr Show. She was the 2018/19 Women in the Humanities Honorary Writing Fellow at Oxford University.