ARC Review: Feminisms by Lucy Delap


I received an ARC of this book via Pelican and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



How has feminism developed? What have feminists achieved? What can we learn from the global history of feminism?

Feminism is the ongoing story of a profound historical transformation. Despite being repeatedly written off as a political movement that has achieved its aim of female liberation, it has been continually redefined as new generations of women campaign against the gender inequity of their age.

In this absorbing book, historian Lucy Delap challenges the simplistic narrative of ‘feminist waves’ – a sequence of ever more progressive updates ­- showing instead that feminists have been motivated by the specific concerns of their historical moment. Drawing on an extraordinary range of examples from Japan to Russia, Egypt to Germany, Delap explores different feminist projects to show that those who are part of this movement have not always agreed on a single programme. This diverse history of feminism, she argues, can help us better navigate current debates and controversies.

My thoughts

Feminism isn’t a concept I’m unfamiliar with. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a long time and formed the basis of a lot of the essays I wrote as part of my degree. I’m no stranger to a feminist text and, in fact, I’m not afraid to say I enjoy reading them. My knowledge of feminism stems from people like Virginia Woolf, Mary Woolstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir (to name a few!). Of course, Delap takes what I already knew – and thought I knew about feminism – and presents it in an incredibly interesting way, managing to change how I thought of this.

Considering the sheer amount of non-fiction “source texts” I’ve had handed to me throughout my education, I worried a little bit that this would be like the books teachers made us read – so chocked full of information you can virtually feel your eyes glaze over when you’re reading. Whilst it was full of rich details, facts and figures, it definitely wasn’t boring.

Delap draws on extraordinary examples from Japan to Russia, Egypt to Germany. As someone who’s on ever seen or read about feminist movements in America and the U.K., it was great to read different perspectives and learn about diverse histories as well.

Another thing I liked, though it seems pretty simple to say, was the use of pictures. Whilst the actual text was factual and compelling, I loved seeing images of various women through the book.

I think the only bad thing I can say is I wanted more images. Sometimes things felt too wordy so I could’ve done with pictures to break things up nicely.

Feminisms will be published 27th August 2020.

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