“This isn’t a book that bombards you with theory, but one that tells you the honest truth about being a female in the public eye” – Everywoman by Jess Phillips

I’m going to start this review by being a bit candid about something. I’ve always struggled slightly with using the term feminist to describe myself, or to join in conversations about feminism when around people I don’t know that well. And this isn’t because I don’t think we should be striving for equality. I do. And it isn’t because I think we’ve come close to achieving that equality either. I’m not an idiot. It’s actually more down to the fact that saying you’re a feminist when you’re a male in your early thirties often makes people look at you and shake their head, or tweet at you to call you a pompous idiot. I’ve also always known I had more in common with the feminists among us than with those crazy bastards who tweet rape threats and call every woman who speaks about equal rights a ‘feminazi’, or those almost exclusively white middle-aged men who ask ‘when’s international man’s day’ and talk about the lack of men’s rights in society. Those idiots can fuck right off. But until now I would definitely have stopped short of calling myself a feminist.

If Jess Phillips’s Everywoman achieves only thing, it will be changing my attitude towards that. Whether or not you agree with her politics (which I do most of the time) it is hard to argue that, after reading this book, she doesn’t make a very good case that more of us need to speak out instead of sitting silently and hoping somebody else will do it. Whether discussing the devastation of domestic violence, the importance of sisterhood, or the truly traumatic effect of internet trolls, Jess brings candour and emotional insight to the subject and shows what is happening while we sit idly by. She also brings facts. That doesn’t mean that some people won’t try to argue and silence those facts, but that’s just another reason we need to heed her advice and speak out.

There were times, as I read Everywoman, that I found myself bristling slightly at the author’s self-aggrandisement. She is a very confident woman. But, as I read on, I started to think that maybe my bristling was down to something other than how confident this successful woman is. I mean, why shouldn’t she be? Men write books about how brilliant they are all the time and we don’t judge them. And actually, that isn’t even what Jess is doing. When she bigs herself up it is often to show others that they should to, that they might have to if they want to do well in a male dominated world. So yeah, some will call her arrogant – but maybe she’s needed to be.

Any Cop?: It might be that, for those more versed on the subject, Everywoman can be a little simplistic. For me, it was this simple presentation that made it successful. This isn’t a book that bombards you with theory, but one that tells you the honest truth about being a female in the public eye. There’s some scary stuff in there. And yes, it’s addressed to women in the main part, but men shouldn’t be afraid to pick up a copy. It just might change your mind about a few things.

 

Fran Slater

 

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