This was a hard book to read, and an even harder book to write a review on. No woman gets through life without at some stage being confronted with the reality of male violence. Even if we are lucky enough to get through life without suffering a physical assault, we still shape our lives around a fear of male violence. It is why we are hyper alert when we walk anywhere alone and in darkness, why finding yourself alone in a room with an unknown male can make you nervous. We are assessing the danger and the risk of men all the time. It is an ever present fear requiring unwavering vigilance.
I have jotted down some of my thoughts on Dr Taylor’s books. I have some that I am still unpicking in my own head. I will probably come back and comment on it again. But if you take anything away from this book, it is the one thing we shouldn’t have to say, but need to say anyway. Women are never responsible for male violence. Never.
Why Women Are Blamed For Everything: Exploring Victim Blaming Of Women Subjected to Violence and Trauma by Jessica Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think this is a book that was long overdue. That said, I am going to start with some of the problems. The first of which is that the layout is a little distracting. The body of the text should have been spaced a little better, and the text should have been justified, because on the page the layout grated for me. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its layout, but as it was an irritant for me, I thought this was something that could easily be rectified. Also, while her reference list is handy, what I also really wished for was an index. That too should go into any further editions of the book.
With my little irritations out of the way, it is best to move on to what is really important, the content of the book itself. The subject matter was presented in a powerful and informed manner, and left me simmering with rage. Male power, male privilege, male dominance and male violence are at the heart of this book and Dr Taylor confronts head on any of the plaintive cries of “not all men” and what she calls the “whatboutery”, which she directly correlates with misogyny, where whenever any issue is raised in connection with women, the endless echo back seems to be whatabout the men? As she states, rather bluntly, if you are looking for a section in the book about men and boys, this is not the book for you.
In placing women’s trauma at the heart of the book, Dr Taylor is able to deconstruct the narratives that lead to the blaming of women subjected to male violence for their own trauma and the reasons underlying this. Dr Taylor relies on her extensive research and experience within the field in doing so. The book challenges you to confront your own internalised prejudices and assumptions in your consideration of male violence against women and it also allowed me to reconsider some of my own responses to male aggression and to stop looking for what I did to ‘encourage’ or ‘invite’ that aggression.
This is not an easy book to read. I think if it wants to reach a broader audience it could do with being a little less academic, but it is a book that should be read more widely.
We need to stop blaming women for male violence. Women have no responsibility for the violence of men. None. She should not have needed to say this, but because of the way in which society does blame women for their own trauma, her book does say this, and says it loudly.
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