Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips

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Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips

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Buy Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Patricia Duffaud
Reviewed by Patricia Duffaud
Summary: The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley tells us what it's like to be a woman in parliament.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786330772

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Everywoman announces itself proudly, with a chapter named The Truth about Speaking up. Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, tells us many times that she is gobby and that she has a loud voice. Her voice does come through, clear and urgent. Using her journey to Westminster and her experiences in Parliament, Phillips teaches the reader the truths she's learned on her journey.

Above all, Phillips is practical. This is not a theoretical treaty about feminism but it oozes the down to earth appeal of an MP who has long lived among the people she seeks to represent. She takes examples from real situations and explores them.

Before becoming an MP, Phillips worked for Woman's Aid, starting off as a sort of PA but making herself indispensable as a fundraiser. Her experience working for a charity that helps women who have been victims of abuse has given her an insight into the worst that men can do to women. She later describes the Twitter abuse she receives; the quotes she gives are crude and shocking. We get the feeling that although they are weaker on the scale of male violence towards women, they are representative of a mindset of silencing women. Similarly, some male MPs use infantilising methods to stop her speaking up in Parliament – for instance, they shush her, whereas they themselves shout and heckle when they feel like it.

Throughout the book, Phillips denounces this drive to silence women. She unearths a fascinating story about a fisherman's wife, Lillian Bilocca, who campaigned in the 1960s for safety on British trawlers after the death of fifty-eight fishermen. Long before the age of Twitter, people strove to stop her campaign by sending anonymous letters and writing to the Daily Mail. For Phillips, it was Bilocca's working class accent and the accessibility of her message that posed a threat.

Jess Philips also speaks in a simple way. She says that, According to the Flesch-Kincaid test (grading of readability) her parliament speeches are at a level that would be understood by the average 16-17-year-old. For her, politicians need to talk to the people in a simple language that they can understand and relate to. What other people would see as a weakness, Phillips sees as her great strength. So much of politics – so much of everything – is dominated by men saying things, she writes at one point. She is doing her best to counter this, with her loud voice and this energetic book.

For more non-theoretical feminism, have a look at How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. Or glance back at the second wave with The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir.

Buy Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips at Amazon.com.

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