The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls
By Mona Eltahawy
Mona Eltahawy has had enough.
I admit, opening this, I initially wondered: do we ‘need’ another book about patriarchy? The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls was first published in the US in September 2019, which in many ways now seems another age – comments throughout about ‘a certain American president’ are like messages in a bottle from a time that we’d rather forget. But Eltahawy believes that ‘patriarchy recognises the potential power of saying ‘I count’. Wondering if there’s any ‘new’ value in it is exactly the problem.
The titular sins encourage women to be angry, to demand attention, to be profane, ambitious, powerful, lustful. A chapter on violence starts: “Imagine if we declared war,” and asks, “How long would it take for the world to pay attention to the killings of men?” Eltahawy is not interested in pandering to men, in soothing their consciences by talking about these issues palatably.
If you’re well-versed in feminist literature and theory, you won’t find anything new here. It’s still worth reading, especially if you’re jaded, if you’ve spent so much time talking to people that you’ve forgotten why.
Eltahawy draws connections between societal manifestations of patriarchy rousingly; it reads like a primer for that moment of awakening when you begin to piece things together, to say, ‘hang on a minute…’ Buy it for your teenage daughters and watch them flourish.
Words: Alice Wickenden