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 book, 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.
Well-behaved women don’t make history: difficult women do.
‘This is the antidote to saccharine you-go-girl fluff. Effortlessly erudite and funny’ Caroline Criado-Perez
Strikers in saris. Bomb-throwing suffragettes. The pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men’s rights activist.
Forget feel-good heroines: meet the feminist trailblazers who have been airbrushed from history for being ‘difficult’ – and discover how they made a difference.
Here are their stories in all their shocking, funny and unvarnished glory.
** Shortlisted in the 2020 Parliamentary Book Awards **
‘All the history you need to understand why you’re so furious, angry and still hopeful about being a woman now. A book that is part intellectual weapon in your handbag, part cocktail with a friend’ Caitlin Moran
‘Compulsive, rigorous, unforgettable, hilarious and devastating’ Hadley Freeman
‘A great manifesto for all those women who have never been very good at being well-behaved.’ Mary Beard
‘Difficult Women is full of vivid detail, jam-packed with research and fizzing with provocation’ Sunday Times