Well-behaved women don’t make history: difficult women do. In this book, Helen Lewis argues that feminism’s success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. 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, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished – and unfinished – history of women’s rights.
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Buy the book:
“This is the antidote to saccharine you-go-girl fluff. Effortlessly erudite and funny, Helen Lewis tackles the great unacknowledged truth of feminist history: no one ever changed the world by being nice. A landmark in modern feminist scholarship, it manages to be important, irreverent and a joy to read.”
– Caroline Criado Perez
“Brilliant, from one of the brightest journalists in Britain today. Compulsive, rigorous, unforgettable, hilarious and devastating. Everything but difficult, ironically enough.”
– Hadley Freeman
“All the history you need to understand why you’re so furious, angry and still hopeful about being a woman now. A book that is part intellectual weapon in your handbag, part cocktail with a friend.”
– Caitlin Moran
I loved Difficult Women. Helen Lewis writes with a devilish wit and a clear eye about the harder edges of meaningful progress. Engaging, moving, witty and sobering – Difficult Women is a book for all humans who value all humans, as difficult as they may be.”
– Stephen McGann
“Some names you will recognise, others will be new. All deserve your respect. In a world where equality still feels like an uphill struggle, it is wonderful to celebrate eleven epic and ultimately victorious battles.”
– Anita Anand