Feminism: A Brief Introduction to the Ideas, Debates, and Politics of the Movement by Deborah Cameron

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About the book

Beneath the nonstop cacophony of voices across social media, online forums, and news outlets lie the stubborn facts at the heart of the everyday struggles of women today: more than a third of single moms live in poverty; the United States sees more maternal deaths than anywhere else in the developed world; one in five women will be raped in her lifetime; and women still make eighty cents for every dollar earned by a man. Between these brutal statistics and the ill-informed, often contentious public debate stand millions of women who feel alienated, disaffected, or just plain worn out.

In the era of #MeToo, Trump, and online harassment, innovative progressive feminist voices are more essential than ever. With her latest book, Deborah Cameron considers feminism from all sides—as an idea, as a theoretical approach, and as a political movement. Written in the succinct, sharp style that has made Cameron’s feminist linguistics blog so popular, this short book lays out past and present debates on seven key topics: domination, rights, work, femininity, sex, culture, and the future. Feminism emphasizes the diversity of feminist thought, including queer, women-of-color, and trans perspectives. Cameron’s clear and incisive account untangles the often confusing strands of one of history’s most important intellectual and political movements.

Broad in scope but refreshingly concise, this book is perfect for anyone who needs a straightforward primer on the complex history of feminism, a nuanced explanation of key issues and debates, or strategic thinking about the questions facing activists today.

My review

This was a compelling, thought-provoking book. This isn’t a manifesto by any means, or even an endorsement of one type of feminism over another. Instead, the author examines the topics of domination, rights, work, femininity, sex, culture, and the future as each feminist perspective sees it. Ms Cameron examines the differences and the common threads. She begins the book with a history of feminism as a movement from the beginning of the 18th century through the present. Each chapter that follows is dedicated to one of the aforementioned topics, and go into great depth for each one. This is not a book that can easily be read in one sitting, but one that should be read carefully and thoughtfully. So much ground is covered and yet it’s done so concisely that the mind is kept engaged but not overwhelmed. This is also not a dry, boring book by any means. Ms Cameron excels at presenting the information in an engaging way that is easily understood by non-academics.

One passage I highlighted is the perfect summation of this book:

“…my answer to the question, What is Feminism?, could be summed up by saying, “It’s complicated.” Feminism is multifaceted, diverse in both its historical forms and in its political and intellectual content: it’s an umbrella sheltering beliefs and interests that may be not just different but incompatible with one another. (And some of those beliefs are also held by people who deny they are feminists at all.”

I highly recommend this book to not only women engaged in the feminist movement, but to everyone, especially those who think they are not a feminist, and those who perceive feminism as being one ideal.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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About the author

Deborah-CameronDeborah Cameron is a feminist linguist, who holds the Rupert Murdoch Professorship in Language and Communication at Worcester College, Oxford University. She is mainly interested in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. A large part of her academic research is focused on the relationship of language to gender and sexuality.Cameron wrote the book The Myth of Mars And Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages?, published in 2007.

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