‘If truth is not our property, then neither is authority. Listening to women becomes superfluous, …’
I have seen quite a bit of change over the past 60 or so years. Some of those changes have been good, but right now it is hard to feel positive about the battle for equality. By the time I finished this book, I felt profoundly depressed. Why?
Ms Manne starts this book with a series of anecdotes about male privilege and how it motivates some men to act in particular ways, but specific instances quickly become a general narrative about the corrosive effects of entitlement. It hurts to recognise and acknowledge this. Not all men act in this way, but those who do seem to have way too much impact.
I read through the chapter entitled ‘Involuntary – On the Entitlement to Admiration’ (Chapter Two) with its incidents of ‘incels’ murdering women who have spurned them or whom they imagine have spurned them. I read through the chapter entitled ‘Incompetent – On the Entitlement to Medical Care’ (Chapter Five) and wept for those women who have not had their medical presentations taken seriously.
And the other eight chapters? Seven of them are a reminder (with examples) of how far we have yet to travel. The final chapter, written for Ms Manne’s daughter, contains a note of optimism.
‘Indelible – On the Entitlement of Privileged Men’ (Chapter One)
‘Unexceptional – On the Entitlement to Sex’ (Chapter Three)
‘Unwanted – On the Entitlement to Consent’ (Chapter Four)
‘Unruly – On the Entitlement to Bodily Control’ (Chapter Six)
‘Insupportable – On the Entitlement to Domestic Labor’ (Chapter Seven)
‘Unassuming – On the Entitlement to Knowledge’ (Chapter Eight)
‘Unelectable – On the Entitlement to Power.’ (Chapter Nine)
‘Undespairing – On the Entitlement of Girls’ (Chapter Ten)
While I do not think we’ll see true equality during what remains of my lifetime, Ms Manne’s optimism lightens my depression a little.