I bought this book at Hay Festival after listening to a podcast interview with Jess Phillips by Emma Gannon. Jess Phillips is an English MP in the Birmingham Yardley area for the Labour Party. Before becoming an MP, Jess worked for charities and organisations offering support for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Her book, Everywoman, is about her experiences with Women’s Aid and inside the House of Commons, and her life as a feminist who has campaigned for women’s rights nearly all her life.
This book allows Jess to speak the truth about growing up as a woman, motherhood, careers, the internet and the fight for equality. She offers insight into the political party she belongs to and is totally honest about her experiences there, even when the truth does not necessarily support her party and its leader. I think this is a fascinating read no matter which English political party (if any) that you side with. It certainly opened my eyes to some of the tactics politicians on all sides use to please a certain group of people (e.g. women) without alienating the other – something politicians clearly fear according to this book.
As a feminist and a woman I felt like I was part of something great when reading Everywoman. It made me incredibly proud to know that there are women (and men) in Parliament who are fighting for gender equality on the inside. I also enjoyed Jess’ down-to-earth writing style and the way she is able to simply and clearly state and explain her opinions without being at all patronising. It allowed me to strengthen some of the opinions I have myself and clarify the ones I feel confused by. One example of this was my personal internal debate about how we as a society can increase equality and fair representation without falling into the trap of positive discrimination, something that is actually against the Equality Act. Jess managed to explain the importance of giving women and other minorities a chance whilst staying inside the law. This managed to clear up my own thoughts on it and allow me to form a proper opinion.
If I had to describe this book in two words it would be honest and empowering. I’m just so glad books like this exist and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in women’s rights, feminism and politics.