Nevertheless, she persisted

 In Opinion

Shrewed should be required reading for both men and women. Written by Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti, it is a collection of original essays that explores a number of topics as they relate to women.

Full disclosure, Renzetti is my favourite Globe writer, and her column is the first thing I read on Saturday morning. As with her column, the essays are hard hitting and provocative and they often contain laugh out loud one-liners.

All the essays are written from a deeply feminist perspective and provide insights  that this reviewer welcomed. Like Renzetti, I also believe that the patriarchy has had more than its fair share of time calling all the shots. As she says, and I agree, “The world would be a better place if women had more of a say in running things. At the very least it would be less f***** up.” I, for one, can’t argue with that.

Renzetti tackles a number of issues ranging from ambition and work/life balance to technology and women in politics, providing a fresh take on each one.

Her essay on the tiny voice we all have in our head, that constantly tries to undermine us by casting doubts on our abilities and self worth is something every reader can relate to.

Online trolls and the venom they spew are brought into her cross hairs in the essay entitled, The Way of the Harasser. As Renzetti says, “You only have to be a woman with an opinion and a wifi connection to understand precisely how annoying, damaging and enraging it is to live in the digital age… social media is a daily slog through a toxic swamp.”

Renzetti is highlighting online misogyny and how quickly women are body shamed as being fat or ugly or worse threatened with sexual abuse or violence for simply expressing an idea. As a newspaper columnist she has experienced this firsthand being told in one comment that she was, “too old for Trump to grope”.

Female politicians are the favourite targets of online trolls. Why, you may ask? As one woman politician says, “The crux of why people hate me is because I have a voice and people listen to it. A woman with power is intolerable to them.”

Renzetti’s solution to this problem is not to turn tail and run but rather to, “answer the threat with more freedom.”  This comes out in her final essay, an imagined commencement address to a graduating class.

Her advise for women is to take up more space, to speak first in meetings, and not allow themselves to be interrupted. In short, don’t give in to bullies. For the men in the audience she asks them not see a woman’s growth to be a diminishment of their own, “Be the bigger man, and welcome the bigger woman.”

Shrewed has important messages for both sexes. Give it to the man or woman in your life. Give it to your daughters and sons.

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