Off with Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power

Morrow. Sept. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780063095670. $29.99. WOMEN’S STUDIES
Historian Herman (Sex with Presidents) cracks open the book of misogyny to discuss the tropes and methods of tearing down women. Each chapter discusses various things that women are ridiculed for, such as their hair, voices, their “sexual depravity,” and more. Herman relies heavily on contemporary, American politicians to make her case, specifically former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris. A good portion of the book feels like a rehashing of America’s misogynistic political climate, specifically of the last six or so years, although Herman does compare these politicians to more antiquated historical figures. Notable women discussed include Cleopatra, Anne Boleyn, and Shirley Chisholm. What is lacking throughout is the discussion of the intersection of being Black and a woman. Instead of incorporating and expanding on this throughout the book, Herman includes a chapter about misogynoir at the tail end of the book, which makes it feel like an afterthought. Herman doesn’t offer anything new to the discussion, although she brings humor and quick quips.
VERDICT Fans of Herman’s previous works will likely find this enjoyable. Libraries catering to academics should see this as an optional purchase.
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