I know some women may hear of a book about feminism and think ‘why do we need another one of these, we’re all equal!’ but it’s not until you read books like this that you realize we still have so far to go. If that doesn’t sound appealing then maybe this will: Renzetti writes Shrewed as if she’s talking to a close girlfriend; you will laugh and cry as you work your way through these delightfully entertaining essays.

The essays are only really linked by theme; women and our role in this world. Some are about women Renzetti has interviewed, others are deeply personal, but they all contain a subtle lesson about what it is to be female today. Her observations aren’t groundbreaking, but this is why I connected so easily to her authorial voice. This may be a controversial statment, but pronouncements about being ‘female’ in this world are rarely unique; they simply aren’t voiced clearly enough, or often enough for people to take a more serious look at the inequalities women face each and every day. And I know as I type this, many women will claim they face no such inequalities, but that simply isn’t true; we are just used to them, and dare I say, comfortable with them, so that many people (men AND women) don’t see the need to fight for further equality.

Malala Yousafzai-a beacon of feminism and strength

Renzetti deals with one subject in particular that I believe has been avoided, or simply overlooked in the past, and this is the inequality within the women’s movement or the ‘whiteness’ of the most visible feminism. Shrewed makes the very astute, and (for some) hard to swallow argument that we need to ‘pass over the grievance microphone’ (p. 207 of ARC) to women of colour, or quite simply those without the privileges we enjoy or take for granted. In some cases, even turn down a chance to speak publicly if someone with a less-publicized voice can take your place instead. A few months ago, I read another book about feminism that Renzetti references, which again, stresses the importance of elevating every women’s voice, not just our own, which seems like a simple yet important solution to this problem.

Being a young mother myself, Renzetti’s thoughts on motherhood and work life balance rang true for me, and as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, this always gives me as sense of enormous relief when I realize I’m having the same thoughts as many other mothers out there. She nails one of my anxieties perfectly: “It’s scary to step off the professional carousel, however briefly, and to know that it will not slow down for your return” (p. 82 of ARC). By doing what’s best for me and my family (which is by no means the best way for anyone else) is the way I’m asserting my autonomy at this point in life. This phase will pass, and yet, I can’t help but wonder if the growing number of stay-at-home dads are having the same existential crisis. Anyone care to share?

Author Elizabeth Renzetti

Although this review is turning out to have quite a serious tone, I do want to stress the fact that this book is extremely funny. I loved reading every essay, even when it dealt with scary or sad subject matter because the clever little witticisms and self-deprecating humour are just too fun to not indulge in. Renzetti is a journalist with the Globe and Mail, and I’m making an effort to seek out her writing from now on because I’ve learned so much from her in the best kind of way.

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