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A fresh perspective on continued challenges to women’s lives.

A recent history of the women’s rights movements that have proliferated worldwide.

Vogelstein, a women’s rights lawyer and director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and her colleague Stone, a senior fellow at the CFR, offer an inspiring overview of burgeoning women’s movements in Brazil, China, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sweden. Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have proved indispensable to this powerful wave of activism, allowing women to share their experiences, support one another, and organize to address their concerns. Although sometimes inciting severe backlash for participants, the movements, the authors show, have generated positive results: More women have been elected to government, beneficial laws have been enacted and enforced, and policies have been reformed. For each country represented, the authors create vivid profiles of activists who have spoken out against cultural norms that discriminate against women and that condone abuse. In Latin America, for example, harassment and violence “are endemic to machismo culture, and Brazilian women are particularly at risk,” facing the highest incidence of femicide in the region. In China, although the constitution recognizes equal rights for women, with no specific legal prohibitions against sexual harassment and gender discrimination, women can face personal and professional retribution by protesting. In Egypt, feminist activism is suppressed by an authoritarian government, causing women to risk constant surveillance, house arrest, exile, or imprisonment if they dare to organize and speak out. In contrast, in nearby Tunisia, the nation’s constitution, ratified in 2014, contains provisions for guaranteeing women’s safety and equality. Even in a country as socially progressive as Sweden, “staggering numbers of women” have testified to sexual harassment and discrimination. The authors suggest an agenda for change that includes meaningful redress, legal reform, women’s equal representation in all areas, fair allocation of resources, and recalibration of the social norms that allowed abuse. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke provides the foreword.

A fresh perspective on continued challenges to women’s lives.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5417-5862-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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