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  • Difficult Women

  • A History of Feminism in 11 Fights
  • By: Helen Lewis
  • Narrated by: Helen Lewis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Well-behaved women don’t make history: difficult women do.

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 audiobook, 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 21st-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.

©2020 Helen Lewis (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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Brilliant

Articulate, well-thought out, and intensely well-argued, this is an important, funny and rage-inducing history of (largely) the UK in which a woman’s fight for equality takes centre stage. So much insight. The epilogue, as a stand-alone piece, was perfection.

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People Have Flaws But They Still Have Value

In this time of purity politics, this book is a timely reminder that most people who carry out worthwhile political action are not saints but rather flesh and blood human beings possessed of good and bad characteristics. Nevertheless we can still value people’s legacy and worthwhile impact on our lives today. Helen Lewis’ well written book takes a look at the stories of women who have struggled for the rights and interests of women and girls. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in social activism.

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Excellent

The narrator, the author herself, is excellent.

In this time of #BlackLivesMatter, it struck me that there are many parallels between the struggle for racial equality and the struggle for gender equality.

Highly informative, expertly written.

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Thought I wasn't a feminist. I was wrong.

So worthwhile. Should be mandatory reading for girls approaching adulthood. I learned so much.

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  • I Clementine
  • 21-04-2020

Stop What You're Doing and Listen!

If you've been difficult...
If you wish you were more difficult...
If you wish you understood why she had to be so bloody difficult all the time...
If there's still that part of you which wonders "what if..?"
If you wish that understanding feminism wasn't so bleeding difficult...
... Then stop what you're doing and listen. You won't regret it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-03-2020

Every woman should read this book

I have chosen this for our Book Club to read and would like all the ' other halves' to read it too

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kathleen Cunningham
  • 03-05-2020

Fantastically insightful and informative

well structured and amazingly interesting, the stories of the women throughout history are a breath of fresh air. to see them in their own environment you can start to understand how they could seem difficult. great stuff

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  • HeyDon't.
  • 02-09-2020

dissapointed

I listened to Helen's podcast with Adam Buxton and watched her gruelling interview with Jordan Peterson, so was expecting something good. But this piece of work is clearly dumbed right down. So many cliches and trite statements in the first chapter I just couldn't go on. It's for 22 year olds. Maybe that's a good thing, but unbearable for anyone sentient.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Book lover
  • 22-05-2020

Excellent

A book that everyone should read, especially those in government. Entertaining as well as informative.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-03-2020

Bloody Fantastic Woman!

Well researched, fascinating, brave, important book. Helen Lewis delivers a cracking read. Would absolutely recommend.

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  • A. V. S.
  • 18-03-2020

A brilliant read, not just for women

This book does a brilliant job of looking at feminism with a critical eye, by inviting us to learn about the complex people who championed it and what their efforts achieved. It does not airbrush away the flaws or ignore the uncomfortable sides of the movement or those who drove it forward.

The way the book is structured - looking at 11 different spheres of life influenced by the struggle of women to improve them (divorce, education, love, sex, safety, etc) - is beautifully done, and I learned a great deal about issues, laws, and individuals throughout history of which I'd previously been ignorant, or had only heard a simplified version.

Lewis writes in an accomplished yet human way, laughing at the ridiculous, but underlining the serious. Her work seems to be well-researched and she leaves room for the contrasting voices of others, acknowledging controversial issues and trying to examine them through the subjective views and experiences of others before adding her own opinions.

Whatever you think of feminism, feminists, or the state of gender equality, anyone can enjoy and learn from this book. It's important to remember that quiet and compliant people do not achieve positive change, and that as difficult as society likes to paint them, the women in this book made ripples and waves from which many of us - regardless of gender - benefit today.

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  • Mr. S. J. Jeffery
  • 16-03-2020

Witty, Engaging, Informative

Helen Lewis is a blooming legend, in print, on podcasts and on the radio. Thoroughly enjoyed listening to her narration through many tales of feminist history I was previously only vaguely aware of, if I'd heard of them at all.
Also learnt a new insult, which I won't trouble you with here but I'm sure I can find many uses for it.

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  • Hanna Eriksson
  • 09-04-2021

A book everyone should read/listen to.

Thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. No nonsense or theoretical idealism but full or whit and viewing feminism as it is - complex, messy and necessary. Loved it!

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  • J Stephenson
  • 19-03-2021

Well researched and interesting story of feminism.

This genre isn't usually on my regular reading list but it's a very well researched book. The story of the Feminist Movement from a more personal and so different point of view makes for an interesting read. It took a couple of attempts to complete but I'm very glad I did.

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