Cover Image: Of Women

Of Women

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Member Reviews

Powerful and clear-eyed, Chakrabarti examines the numerous injustices faced by women globally. With thorough and expert research, this is a damning examination of the impact of misogyny and discrimination on every sphere of a woman's life. Broken up thematically, each section focuses on a different realm of womanhood, from work to religion to health. Whilst not shedding light on any new discourse for those who are already well-versed in the concerns of the modern feminist movement, it nevertheless provides a strong and meticulous introduction for those looking to explore these topics in greater detail.
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I think Chakrabarti write incredibly clear and well researched prose in Of Women. A really important book for women living in the 21st century.
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Powerful book about female empowerment. Covering the injustices that women face from babies and genital mutilation, to job differences, culture and politics. It's told in an engaging way, but sticks very firmly to the facts. It is very effective in portraying the struggle that women currently face in so many different ways. A must-read for anyone interested in feminism or the struggles that women face in society.
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Not just a good read but an important read - once that both teaches looking at yourself and the world around you.
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Absolutely ground-breaking, affirming, and eye-opening. This book was both hard to read, and necessary. I am very glad I read it; I felt like I learnt and grew as a person while reading this book. Not only would I recommend it, I am definitely going to.
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I personally think this book is a great introduction to feminism and feminist theories as it gives you a great insight into gender injustice. However, if you are very educated on the subject the book may not tell you anything new so I would recommend it more for people who want to expand their knowledge than to already versed on it. 

It is a well informed and argued book not only covering feminism, but linking it to current issues regarding politics, equality and society. Although it is very well detailed, it’s not dense and reading it is very easy which, again, makes it perfect to initiate yourself on the subject.
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Though there is not much new in this book, it is definitely a worthy read about why women still need equality nowadays. It is full of facts and very blunt. Well worth the read
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Much of the discussion in Of Women is fascinating and I found myself drawn in by Chakrabarti's engaging style, while glumly acknowledging that her likeliest audience is the already-converted. She never pretends that this is an academic work but I can imagine that her clear political proclivities will immediately deter those readers who aren't on board from the outset. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of the Trump vs Theresa May meeting.
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This was an engaging and interesting read but one I think could have had a more cohesive central argument. I would definitely recommend this to those wanting an entry point into feminist politics but for those looking for something more complex I would suggest finding a different book.
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*puffs out cheeks, blows out through pursed lips* 


This book was so close to being a DNF multiple times but I was just about interested enough to keep going. 


Of Women in the 21st Century (to give it it’s full title) is a series of essay-like chapters regarding the treatment of women in various different areas of life (education, faith, healthcare etc.) highlighting the myriad of injustices that they face. Light bedtime reading it ain’t.

As the description suggests, the book is, well…it’s pretty depressing. There are SO MANY issues facing women and Shami Chakrabarti has detailed them all, with credible stats and references, eleventy billion times throughout the text. My main takeaway is that women are basically f*cked.

And that’s my problem, because I’m generally a positive little sunflower and I like to think that the world is ever so slowly changing for the better. I know that all these problems exist but there are lots of people working very hard to tackle them. It would have been great if they had got a mention – or if Chakrabarti has proposed her own solutions in a more concrete fashion.

I’m not knocking the inclusion of facts and figures in the book – far from it, Of Women is impeccably researched – but that doesn’t make for an enjoyable reading experience. The endless stats became meaningless when read as large chunks of text and the whole thing felt highly impersonal. I didn’t disagree with anything that she said but I wasn’t fired up by her arguments either.

I also felt that the book was highly, highly biased. There was no interrogation of the data presented and no consideration for any counter-arguments. I also got the impression (even though it’s not overtly stated) that it’s those bloody Conservatives who have caused/failed to solve some of the problems detailed – remembering of course that Chakrabarti is a Labour Party politician. Again, I didn’t necessarily disagree with what she was saying but it was all very one sided.

However, there were some parts of the book that were genuinely enjoyable. In particular, the section on faith was really interesting and well researched. I think this area is often overlooked in feminist discussions so it felt like Chakrabarti was bringing something new to the table, instead of summarising the main points of old ground.

Overall, I felt like the book was a fantastic overview, a starting point, an introduction to some of these issues but the tone of the piece was so dry and heavygoing that I could only really recommend it as a reference book for the basics of gender studies.
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This book hurt my heart. It was too real and sometime I felt a bit pessimistic about the future. Bit this would proves the exact opposite. Women and feminists are not afraid to hold up a mirror to the world and make everyone uncomfortable. It is difficult to be ignorant these days. You have to try really hard,
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Of Women is Chakrabarti's fact full book all about the injustices that women face from fetus to death. This book mainly focuses on the facts and figured surrounding certain pressure points facing women in societies around the world today. From the preference of the sex of a baby to female genital mutilation it covers many hard hitting subjects.
Whilst most non-fiction books about feminism cover similar subjects with slight variations there is one significant difference Of Women has against its genre friends. 
Of Women is the most fact filled book of feminism I have come across in all my reading of feminist non-fiction. The facts and figures are, at most times, extremely effective in getting their point across. At many points in the book you stop and listen just to absorb the staggering numbers. The down point to this is that it can often feel impersonal, like a leaflet given to you with the brutal facts but none of the story that comes with a human interaction. 
This is a fantastic read for someone wanting to start with their journey in feminism who perhaps wants some facts and figures to back up their feelings of injustice. As someone who regularly keeps up to date with the feminist talk points I knew well of many of the subjects talked about but I definitely learned a few things in my reading. So if you don't mind a book with a bit of in your face facts and reminders of just how cruel the world can be to girls I would recommend this book highly.
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After reading Of Women: In the 21st Century, I am of the opinion that, if you are someone who is looking for the basic sort of knowledge about gender issues and feminism, this book would be an alright book to pick up.
Alright. Sadly, nothing more.
But, as someone who knows more than just a little and was looking for something that could advance the conversation, I found this book severely lacking. Frankly, this is because of three main reasons - that the information was rudimentary and the book’s flow lacked any sort of consistency, making it feel as though you were jumping around randomly from one point to the next with the only connection between them being the fact that they all affected women.
Secondly, to say Shami Chakrabarti was repeatedly insisting that she is non-judgemental, she kept making throw-away digs and comments that proved the opposite. I know, I know, it’s a difficult thing to reserve judgement on the others of our sex after being learnt to do so for so many centuries, but it is something that needs to be learnt to help us lift one another up, as opposed to pulling one another down.
And finally, that she goes on and on about her adoration for the second-wave feminist Germaine Greer (I can hear your groans from here) and yet anyone who has switched on the news, or picked up a newspaper (online or otherwise) in the last few years will be well aware of the general consensus regarding her increasingly abhorrent views.
Honestly, I could name you a dozen or so other books that could have been a better choice for an introduction to gender studies and, the more I think about my experiences with this book, I more firmly suggest you pick one of those up instead.
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An important book on an important subject, which covers many topics, but somehow manages not to be too dense or wordy. Not a lighthearted read by any means, but this does not detract from the enjoyment gained from reading it. Manages to explore themes without being preachy. Will definitely recommend!
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wow what a well researched, inspiring book about woman rights across society and the globe.  Its a very important book that everyone should read.  I will definitely be recommending this book !
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An eye opener to how women have been treated throughout the years. Would recommend to anyone with an interest in current politics or world history
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I've been trying to work out how to review this book for a while now and I think the best thing is to start with something of an elephant in the room. The world is changing, and fast. And this is very much a book of the moment. I'm not saying the book is obsolete, although I think we can be glad when it is - assuming that happens for the right reasons anyway, however, for a book that makes many cultural references it glaringly misses some and I can imagine anguished debates to bump the publication to include more, or negotiations for a second edition with the most notable updates.

In truth though, despite the sense of a cultural shift relating to movements like #MeToo the book is far broader and more encompassing than the issue of sexual violence towards women. Of course, it does mention the subject - it's hard to discuss any human rights without acknowledging such an issue, but it is especially relevant given the way it is connected to so many other women's issues.

And that broadness is where this book offers great value for anyone wanting to consider the future of our society. The title and synopsis clearly frame this as a book about women, but it really is about people in general, just with an emphasis on women. That emphasis comes because although many of the issues affect everyone, they do often affect women disproportionately. Some issues are clearly more obvious than others in that regard, but this really is a book championing the idea that everyone would benefit from basic human rights. It just highlights that women are often the first to be denied them.

Possibly the most difficult aspect of the book for me was the reminder that the world itself is not equal. It's very easy, sitting here in sunny England, to forget that there are many parts of the world where some of the progress we've made in our culture hasn't spread. Basic things that we have accepted for years. England passed the Married Women's Property Act in 1882 allowing women to own property. Yet, 136 years later in 2018, there remain 8 countries that don't allow women to own property and numerous more that may legally allow it but for various cultural reasons never see it occur.

Personally, I found these international comparisons most interesting for framing how much can be done here in the UK and other similar cultures. Shami Chakrabarti does an impressive, job with the incredibly difficult task of using these differences to highlight how things can be better here. A great example of this was highlighting the 'Tampon Tax' argument. I think, or at least hope, that most people in Britain understand the basics of the argument and are sympathetic towards it. However, by highlighting the plight of poorer nations where the inadequate supply of these basic necessities has such a stark, visible impact, it helps frame the real impact in our own country. Yes, we're lucky that far fewer girls across the UK are forced to miss school due to inadequate supplies but when the reality of these less privileged countries is brought home it helps frame the reality that no doubt girls in this country also find their education suffering. That probably isn't news to half the population either, but it's rare to have someone draw such a deft line between the two cultures and help the other half who hadn't been exposed to that reality before understand the potential impact.

And that potential impact is really the come away concept for me. A lot of what is covered isn't new, although some of the concepts such as universal basic income are only recently coming into prominence, but it presents the information in a fresh, clever way. It offers a stark reminder that the issues facing us al are broad and diverse, that everyone can be affected in varying degrees by general societal issues, and that women have their own issues that will also affect some more than others, but more than anything it hammers home how fragile any security or privilege that women have is. Yes, our society has changed. We now have a world where actresses can sue the President of the USA for their right to speak out and not be paid off. We see icons crumbling as their power over women is taken from under them. We see women rightfully taking their place at the highest levels. And as proud as we should be at this progress, this book presents one of the best arguments that we shouldn't rest on our laurels and stop pushing. The progress we've made is still too fragile, and still too incomplete.

Society may have shifted a lot since this was first written, but unfortunately, it remains relevant. It's well worth reading.
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Of Women is a brilliant and interesting book about the treatment of women in the world now and over the course of history. It is really an eye-opening book about historical circumstances and also makes one aware of the struggles women in other parts of the world still face.
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Shami Chakrabarti begins Of Women with the premise that gender inequality (or perhaps more colloquially sexism) is the greatest inequality facing the world today, since it affects women wherever they happen to live: whether in a rich country or a poor country, women do not enjoy the same level of education, wealth, health, and opportunity that men do. She therefore sets out to explore the history and current status of this inequality, as well as to speculate on how overcoming it would be beneficial for women, men and society in general. Of Women packs a serious amount of information and opinion into relatively few pages and, while a lot of what is included is not new per se, Shami Chakrabarti explains matters well and puts her own slant on issues such as wealth and production, faith, education, and home life. It’s perhaps not written in the most entertaining of styles, but then it is meant to be a serious exploration of the role of women in society now, how far we have come, and the [certainly not insignificant] distance we still have to go. Ultimately, the rather academic style suits the subject matter and, while there are probably plenty of more user-friendly [for want of a better term] primers on feminism available, Of Women presents weighty matters in a suitably serious fashion. It’s arguably more dry than difficult, and I think it will appeal to the majority of those wishing to learn more about feminism and perceptions of women.
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In "Of Women: In the 21st Century", Shami Chakrabarti presents an informed and nuanced treatise on the global state of women’s emancipation and gender equality in the 21st century, from political and economic independence, to cultural definitions and norms of femininity.

Divided in to essay like chapters, such as health and reproduction, wealth, faith, Chakrabarti addresses piece by piece the differences in treatments, challenges, and in some cases abuses of women around the world, what can done to change things for the better, and who are helping already.  It’s not a doom and gloom read, if anything it is a call to action and not, as suggested in one too many books on gender equality, an issue solely given to the West.  Chakrabarti’s feminism is wonderfully inclusive and intersectional, and never shies away from discussing race, cultural traditions, or definitions of gender that would usually cause a TERF to reach for an aspirin.  Chakrabarti also offers potential solutions that might help reduce the inequality between the sexes; a particular favourite of mine was her conclusion regarding the measuring of unpaid domestic work (homemakers, carers et al) in an attempt to undermine the last-century hangover definition of care being ‘women’s work’ – if you want to know more, you’ll have to read the book.

It’s not a heavy read, at just over two-hundred pages I actually found myself wishing for more.  Admittedly there were some pages, particularly when concerning politics or economics, where Chakrabarti code-switched and the language and phrasing became a little drier, a little more what I imagine she uses to address colleagues in parliament.  Regardless, you will find yourself engrossed as Chakrabarti leads through both personal and professional accounts of inequality and division, and likewise be willing the next page to offer some hope or solution.

The only fault is that for some it might feel like treading old ground.  Perhaps too little has changed, perhaps I’ve just read too widely than this book was aimed for, in which case it is perfect for those new to the subject or feel they have a limited scope as far as international gender equality is concerned.

With 2018 marking the centenary of the Suffragette movement (in the UK at least), "Of Women" is the perfect read to remind yourself of what has been doggedly fought for in those one-hundred years.  Not just for female readers, but male too and all those in between.  It provides a clear statement of where we are, where we have been, and how much work there is still to be done if we want to live in a world where we are benefited of equal value and status, regardless of how or where we are born, or how we choose to live our lives.
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