Listen free for 30 days

  • Difficult Women

  • A History of Feminism in 11 Fights
  • By: Helen Lewis
  • Narrated by: Helen Lewis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (355 ratings)

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £25.99

Buy Now for £25.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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

More from the same

What listeners say about Difficult Women

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    298
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    256
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    249
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Bloody Fantastic Woman!

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A recommended read/listen.

Educational, inspirational and throughly enjoyable. A relatable journey through time I will listen to again.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Helen Lewis almost gets it

I mostly really enjoyed this book, but was disappointed that she didn't join the dots. Women are oppressed because of our biology, not because of how we identify.
It was really well researched and excellently read, but I couldn't get over how after all this, she just didn't quite get the most important point (biology).