Returning from vacation, I was excited to stop by the library to find Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Woman and Girls with my name on it. I chuckled when I atttempted to check it out, only to discover that it was no longer reserved for me, as I had missed my hold window, and was waiting for my sister in law! This collection of essays was worth the wait, leaving the reader pondering the voices in our heads and the messages that we share with our children.
Elizabeth Renzetti is a Globe and Mail columnist, author of a novel, daughter, wife and mother. She shares her own experiences openly and honestly. She lays out her truths and writes to inspire women. She begins with an essay called The Voice in Your Head is an Asshole describing how our inner thoughts curtail our activities, cause women not to apply for jobs unless they completely fit the criteria and causes us to doubt our capabilities and strengths.
She wrote about harassment of women, from being groped on the subway, to catcalls and highlighted the video, Ten Hours as a Woman. The video is shocking but makes me think back to my younger days. I considered how my own daughter had accepted that the calls from passing cars as “normal”, not sharing the experience walking home at lunch, until especially awful comments were yelled at her friends. It is scary to think that our young women are so used to this behaviour that they just ignore it. I am sure glad that my boys know better!
She included letters to her children, shared the inspiration she gained from her mother, a retired nurse, and lots of details about her first hand experiences. I enjoyed learning that she had taken her mother to see Hillary Clinton when she visited Toronto in the fall. It is interesting to think that our paths crossed that even when 5000 women (there were a few men in the crowd) listened to a strong, woman speaker who had failed in her bid for presidency despite being one of the most qualified candidates in history.
Shrewed is a great collection of essays. I greedily read them all at once but think this is a book to savour, to pick up and read one essay at a time. These are essays that need to be discussed – at the dinner table, at the water cooler, with other women, with men, with young girls and young boys. It signals that change is needed and that feminism is important inn 2018!