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Difficult Women

A History of Feminism in 11 Fights
Narrated by: Helen Lewis
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4.8 out of 5 stars (159 ratings)

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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

What listeners say about Difficult Women

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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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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.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

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

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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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Bloody Fantastic Woman!

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

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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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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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Unexpectedly wonderful

Explored the humanity of feminism in an accessible, engaging way. Thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable.

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Loved it! Think Helen is brilliant.

Reignited my love of being a difficult feminist and reaffirmed my belief to stand up against the patriarchy. Extremely well written, witty, enlightening and empowering. Found it very easy to listen to.

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Brilliant

This is a great book - everyone should listen to it. Entertaining, infuriating and inspiring. Thank you Helen Lewis. Now, I just need my husband to listen to the chapter on work.