Review – Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution

Unspeakable Things: Sex Lies and Revolution Unspeakable Things: Sex Lies and RevolutionLaurie Penny; Bloomsbury 2014WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I liked this book. It was messy, and deeply compassionate, and very sad, and not exactly hopeful. Because in the end, what can I do, what can you do? The whole world is changing, needs to change, but we can’t do much about it either way. And in the meantime, we all suffer, men and women and girls and boys alike. The writing style is informal and vulgar, which I have noticed turned some people off. I think it was a calculated decision. How else can she get you to look beyond what society tells you is proper?

Penny focuses on the lies society is currently telling us about men and women and how we interact. She then follows those lies to their impact on our behavior, on how incredibly difficult it becomes to interact with another human when society has told you they aren’t human. And it’s true both ways. Society tells men that women are empty vessels waiting to be filled and it tells men that women are animalistic balls of rage that will destroy them for disagreeing with a single thing they say. Only that latter thing really does happen, so it’s not exactly equivalent.

Best quote:

Modern do-it-all superwomen are so knackered and seething that they have started backing stacks of silly little biscuits and flouncing around in retro 1950s-print dresses as if doing so might bring back the days when you still had to do the shopping, the cooking, and the squeezing out of babies, but if you were very lucky and very pretty you might be able to persuade a man to cover the finances, because the further away from it some of us get the better that option is starting to look.

Since “freedom and equality” seems to mean that women get to work paid jobs while also doing all of the work they used to do, it is starting to look like a pretty raw deal. But the point is, the revolution isn’t finished, we have more work to do, and we should get back to work.