Book Review: “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions” by Gloria Steinem

“And that is the last Survival Lesson: we look at how far we’ve come, and then we know-there can be no turning back.”

I picked up this book mainly because it was it was one of the books that was quoted on another read from earlier.  To say that as I began to read I was shocked at times to learn that for a book written in the 80’s it appears that we are no further ahead as a society.  When you look at the grander picture it would almost be safe to say that as a human race I would have to say we are digressing.  The news still swirls with the fight that so many have been fighting.  It is so much more than feminism or equal rights.  We are running the risk as running ourselves deeper into the ground in such a way that we may never recover from.  As a human race what we continue to do to each other without further evolving makes me fear for the longevity of the human race.  We have already pretty much destroyed our planet so of course why not each other.

Gloria began her career in the 50’s as a political reporter.  Struggling to make herself known in a male domineering time she paved the way for other women to walk down the same path.  The main takeaway I got from this read was the fact that as a Sisterhood we are failing each other.  Since the dawn of time we have always been in a position where our numbers have out matched theirs.  It is almost like the male popultion recognized this and here came centuries of suppression where we were barely considered their equal.  One of the main reasons why we were finally given the vote is because they wanted to give the vote to African American Males as well.  The number game was far greater in the favour of the African American Male so the right to vote was granted to us.  Maybe it was this one point that led to us being able to seek out an education.  One thing for sure it was a definite turning point to mankind as a whole.  The start of it all came in this one moment that will forever change the way society thinks.

Gloria talks about the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and what that meant for women.  It was a time where women began to take control of their bodies and their reproduction rights as the battle began to legalize abortion and birth control.  They fought so hard for these rights that now after almost 40 years we are worse off to where we started.  The whole point of all the protests, marches and sisterhoods coming together was for us to gain self control.  How is it that a group of people now gets to once again dictate what happens to the outcome of our bodies.  Can you believe that there was once a time when a fetus was considered property of the State.  What a wild world we live in.

The theme of the book is of women gaining control of their life.  IN all sense and purposes of the Word.  There is a graphic chapter on genital mutilation.  Girls as young as 8 years old have horrible things done to them at the hands of men and their parents.  Have we not learned anything from what has happened in the past.  How as women can we not read this book and not want to take a stand for all of us sisters.  I know that what is the beliefs of one culture should never be questioned but I ask of you…can you imagine an 8 year old girl, stripped of her basic human rights to be mutilated in such a way that she will never know pleasure as a woman or what it means to feel whole.  No matter how you spin it.  This is the World we live in and this is what we think is ok.  She preaches sisterhood and if you just take one step in the right direction maybe that one step encourages another and another etc. (safety in numbers).

Where else but in a book about feminism would you have a chapter dedicated to Linda Lovelace sandwiched between Marilyn Monroe and Alice Walker. Who doesn’t remember the breathtakingly beautiful Miss Marilyn.  A star taken far too soon she was the envy of every man.  She was curvy and feminine and never spoke out of turn it was no wonder that most men loved her and most women either wanted to be her or hated her.  Alice Walker a novelist who touched many and seemed to be able to relate to almost anybody.  And Linda a women who was tortured and kept by men to perform unspeakable, humiliating acts.  Even when she wanted to run her captor married her in order to keep her quiet.  Combined with Jackie O and Patricia Nixon these 5 women paved the way for many women along the way.

The chapter Erotica vs Pornography is a real eye opener.  It seems that not many  read this chapter. We still live in a male dominated world where they are still calling all the shots.  Some women still become subserviant to their partners as they enter into increasingly violent relations in order to fulfill their needs.  Fifty years of increased pornography in the main stream has brought on a very scarey subculture.  I can’t even believe what I am reading when the conversations moves to “snuff” movies.  Maybe this is why child pornography is increasing at an even faster pace.  Human trafficking is an even bigger problem then ever before.  There is no real mention of it back in the 80’s.  I am sure it existed but not at the volumes that we have now.  With the population booming it has become easier for our youth to become at risk.  The age of the internet also makes this whole tragedy run even rampant.  There is a fine line between agression and violent sex.  We still are trying to find a way to combat domestic violence. We have more shelters and programs in place but the true fear is desensitization.  The World we live in now is one where multiple partners is becoming more socially acceptable.  What one partner doesn’t fulfill then another can surely step up and fill that void.

There is even comedy in this book.  The chapter “If Men Could Menstrate” is absolutely hilarious.  It is so true that if it were men that had to go through this once a month it would be the coolest thing to be doing.  Everybody would be wanting to do it and there would be so much sympathizing going around.

Did you know that Hitler was involved in some horrific practices when it came to abortion.  I mean is rational with certain races was that why terminate the baby if you could just throw out the whole body.  When it came to women they received the worst treatment.  They were frequently used as test subjects and kept isolated from others in order to keep them weak.  Now we are back in a time where our fearless leaders want to dictate what is virtuous and good.  “Is there much difference between the concecpt of a ‘Master Race’ and the ‘quality of life’ of our modern pro-abortionist social planners?” Dr and Mrs J. C. Wilke published a paperback with this saying on it.  These two individuals who spent the 20 and 30’s terminating pregnancies to deal with the mother’s social problems easily transitioned their thinking.  When it was presented to them to terminate other classes of humans it appeared logical.  They brainwashed themselves into thinking their behaviour was acceptable.  In fact this behaviour would be rewarded. “True idealism, as Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, is nothing but the subordination of the interests and life of the individual to the community….The sacrifice of personal existence is necessary to secure the preservation of the species.”  Does any of this sound remotely familiar.  Although written very well these words seem to be echoing in the media these days.  We are made to believe that our bodies are not ours and therefore we can not defend ourselves.  We see this everyday when our legal system turns a blind eye to the sexual assualts, date rapes and everyday violence that occurs.  The man who led the Germans in second World War has uttered similiar words that our leaders and politicians are using today.  Nobody seems to be off limits except the rich and powerful.  This does not seem like a society that wants to thrive but more of the top 10% dictating to us how we should live and feel.  We still don’t live in a World where we are free to embrace who we were born to be.  Some of us live in fear or ignorance or both as it is alost simpler to live there than to get involved.  We are made to believe that our voice doesn’t matter.  Look what we deem important.  We got a million people who signed up to rush Area 51.  Where are those million people when it come

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s to fighting for our basic human rights.  We have the power to make a change if we all band up together.

My favourite chapter of all time “Far from the Opposite Shore” helps us to see how we can make a difference as both an individual and as in a group.

Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform.  Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

The author encourages to try and do “one outrageous thing” a day.  It doesn’t have to be history altering but just something that you would normally not do and to get yourself out of your box.  In addition to these outrageous acts you should have your bottom line as well.  The only true act is one of consistency and with purpose.  An example of your bottom line (bare minimum) would be committing to write 5 letters to petition a cause that you believe in.  I love the idea that she encourages us all to take a stand as for so long I have heard the exact opposite.  My whole life I have been made to believe that my small voice could never be heard.  I think the important thing hear is that if your voice can be heard by only just one, and then that just one is heard by yet another then maybe we can make a difference.  That is the very essence of a movement.  Soon we will all be marching in harmony with a strong desire to make changes in the world.  We aren’t doomed to keep walking in the same footsteps.  We only become doomed if we fail to acknowledge the mistakes that led those steps astray. Now more than ever it is time that we stand behind our sisters to fight for Universal health care, to stop these barbaric practices of genital mutilation and sexual slavery.  I feel a small amount of shame that my eyes have been closed for so long.  The most important part is I am getting up to speed now and I can see how my getting involved is important.  Any true feminist should take a look at this book.  There is so much information, wisdom and forsight that we should all be made aware of.  We are heading fast down the same path as we were before. I fear that if we don’t start to learn from our mistakes that human kind as a whole will fail.  Maybe it is already too late.  Maybe we have desensitized ourselves too much with the lightening quick speed of technology anything that we so desire can be found at our fingertips.  My fear is that our desires are being dictacted by somebody else. Somebody that no longer has our best interests at heart.

There is no subject that feminism doesn’t transform.” And there is no subject in this book that she does not make newly fresh and vital for all of us-men and women-“who dreams of a justice that has yet to come and live on the edge of history.”

 

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