Today it is widely believed that feminism has achieved its aims, and that women and men have achieved equality. This, quite simply, is an illusion.
Women working full time in the UK are paid on average seventeen per cent less than men. Domestic violence causes more death and disability among women aged sixteen to forty-four than cancer or traffic accidents. Of parliamentary seats across the globe, only fifteen per cent are held by women and fewer than twenty per cent of UK MPs are women. The number of men paying for sex acts doubled during the 1990s in the UK. From body image to work to education to violence to sex, women in the twenty-first century are still on an unequal footing with men.
In The Equality Illusion, campaigner Kat Banyard has written an alarm call, arguing passionately that feminism is one of the most urgent and relevant social justice campaigns today.
Structuring the book around a normal day, Banyard sets out the major issues for twenty-first-century feminism and explores how they are woven into our everyday lives. She also challenges how we think about choice and empowerment - ideas that have been so successfully co-opted by both the beauty industry and the sex industry - and argues against the notion that biology is at the heart of most gender inequality.
Banyard draws on her own campaigning experience as well as academic research and dozens of her own interviews and case studies. The book also includes information on how to get involved in grassroots action and a list of resources.
Well as a starting point I'd like to proffer this quote from her interview the other day:
''What it means to be a man today is the central issue for Banyard.
"Feminism is about saying the way we construct masculinity is wrong and has been wrong for a very long time," she says. "Either you say the violence men perpetrate against women is natural or it's because our notion of what it means to be a man is horribly wrong."
She continues: "In a world where there wasn't masculinity and femininity, one on top of the other ... you wouldn't have prostitution because sexually conquering a woman wouldn't make you feel more of a man."
I think this is why I became a feminist. It was so clear to me that we have constructed men allwrong and that we were suffering from it.
I think it's great that a book like this has been published by a mainstream publisher in paperback at a reasonable price, but is it just preaching to the converted or do you think this is the sort of thing that will win doubters over?
Actually I do agree that it would be a good book to give to a teenager to read
blinder, I thought the section in the final chapter about men's involvement with feminism was excellent: I wasn't aware of the White Ribbon campaign, and just found it immensely heartening to hear about men involved in feminist activism. Just going on the discussions we've had about feminism on MN over the last few weeks it feels like hard work to convince other women that feminism is still needed (which I find immensely depressing tbh). I hadn't really thought of the whole 'get men involved' issue. I suppose I made an (erroneous?) assumption that if it's hard to convince women, then it'll be even harder to convince men