Why Every Woman Should Read Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution

July 27, 2017

This rollercoaster of a book is a must read for every young woman going through life, attempting to understand how the world works. As a 16 year old reading this, I was shocked by the bare truth laid out in front of me, and the ways in which Laurie Penny challenges your mind to think of all the little ways sex, money, power, and gender, police most things in today's world.



Photo: João Silas on Unsplash 


Through her topical chapters, Penny breaks barriers and definitions of feminism, justice, and equality, smashing the boundaries imposed on our minds in a patriarchal society. A lot of the concepts explained in the book are just like the title entails, unspeakable things. Things that most of society would be too uncomfortable to talk about, or concepts that seem to be misinterpreted.


In one example, Penny outlines how the definition of feminism has changed over time, to assure women and girls that they could be empowered and still beautiful. An extract from the book below, shows the style in which Penny explains concepts to her audience, through direct language, familiar settings, and rhetoric language.


“Can I be a feminist if I love to wear lipstick and twirly dresses? A lot of this nonsense is a response to the tired old stereotype of feminism as unbeautiful, and being unbeautiful – being ugly – is the very worst thing a woman can ever be.”


Yes, this book is controversial in the way it defines and explains different concepts to the audience, but it makes you think about the world we live in and how it should change to be more accepting, more empowering, and more just for all genders. It is a safe place to think about all the thoughts that you thought were wrong because that’s how society perceives them to be, when really they were just different.


Laurie Penny  speaks for a new feminism that includes all. Touching on cyber bullying, eating disorders, and personal experiences, she wants us to speak the unspeakable things.


Mana Mehta is a 16-year-old high school student, aspiring to be a political journalist. She is usually glued to a good book and watching political debates.

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