Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World

Seal. Jan. 2020. 336p. ed. by ed. by Jessica Valenti & Jaclyn Friedman. ISBN 9781580058797. $28. SOC SCI
Valenti and Friedman (coauthors, Yes Means Yes!) invite activists to share the impact of people having confidence in women and their stories. In this collection, writers such as comedian Samantha Irby, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, author Matt Lubchansky, and activist Yanar Mohammed do not soften their message but tell, unequivocally, stories of their own experiences with not being believed and the stories of others, whether about sexual assault, medical need, or the lack of safety in their home. Standout essays include Friedman’s, which names the reasons why these stories matter; Tina Horn’s meditation on sex work; and Jamil Smith’s on his awakening to his own behavior and its contribution to violence against women. To select only three top essays does this excellent collection, however, a disservice. Each piece stands robustly on its own, drawing readers in. The writers make their arguments in accessible, compelling prose.
VERDICT Though this collection ultimately preaches to its own choir, the book easily arms feminist activists with valuable content with which to stride forward in engaging misogyny in the world. An inclusive and essential choice following We Should All Be Feminists, and a must-have for the modern reader.

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