At this point in time, the year 2018, the 21st century, the world seems to be undergoing a paradigm shift. The shift is not related to a breakthrough in the sciences but rather a societal notion, a terminology that has categorised the society into binary divisions, that of male and female, the notion is that of gender. The concept differentiates in terms of societal and cultural references; the term entraps and chokes the freedom we need to identify ourselves, to identify our place in the society.
The binary divisions hold staggering similarity with the class system. The gender divisions are hierarchical in nature with most societies treating women as below the males, it is mostly the patriarchal societies that do so.
However with the changing times, the notion of gender seems to be threatened: a threat of challenge from the very same society that it tried to bind with strict rules of portrayal of self. The rigid gender roles are breaking but not before turbulence, a disturbance, a fight by the traditional forces that strive to maintain these roles, challenging the arguments of the feminist movements. These elements in the society exist for the sole purpose to debunk the theories of feminism, call it a futile theory and are armed with facts that may render a feminist speechless.
However it is here where Julia Stonehouse comes to the rescue, her astounding anthology The Misconception Files is a book that very precisely yet eloquently talks about the various societies all round the world, talks about the various periods of history, goes through institutions, societal structures, attitudes and traditions to highlight the precarious positions of women in various societies. She feels it is important to understand the society before understanding the feminist issue.
Her text is an eye-opener, a book that arms you with facts to counter and defeat the claims of the misogynistic forces; the book boasts of references and bibliography from leading anthropologists and sociologists in the world, she gives references from studies that have been conducted over a long period of time. Her book is not a rant, not a plea of help, not an account filled with angst but rather a book of facts and lucidly explained theories, and her book is the armour to survive weapons of misogyny and patriarchy.
One of her key topics is the reproduction theory. And I would like to quote her here:
Reproduction theory does not happen in a bubble. It seeps like a fog into every crevice of life. It affects religion, philosophy, and law. It has its own history and prehistory. We are talking embryology, psychology, anthropology and archeology. This is a very wide ranging subject.
She covers topics ranging from chastity to inheritance. She talks of religions, tribes and the theories of philosophers.
The book might just be a little over two hundred pages but reading it took a period of over two months. Absorbing each and every facts provided by her supported by academicians was a tedious task, the reader definitely comes out much more informed after reading the book. the final chapter leaves you with a sense of closure but still makes you think of the preposterous traditions that still exist in the society, it gives you the tools to fight them and emerge victorious.
Stonehouse’s book is a Bible for every feminist, it is an ambrosia of survival and should be read by everyone who seeks to understand women and their plight in a greater depth.
Men and women are equal, and if can learn to fly we might just be able to save ourselves and the planet. And one thing is for sure – we’d all have a better time.
The book is available on Amazon.