Book: Everywoman by Jess Phillips

Book: Everywoman by Jess Phillips

Curious, I picked this up as it was staring at me on a topical library shelf. My deal

being if the first page intrigued me, I’d give it a read. In fact, it made me giggle, as did the next few pages.

Progressively, the tone got darker although I still read it as Jess would say it – it’s written in her voice for sure. It feels rare to have an MP that doesn’t have a privileged background as those guys seem to have the loudest mouths. But here’s one who had a real job working at Women’s Aid, a charity supporting women affected by domestic violence. It was the catalyst for the Brummie who buys earrings from Poundland to stand for election in 2015.

I’ve always thought of being an MP a 24/7 job, it is paid as such, so how do people have time to do anything else, never mind another job? In fact, I feel MPs have two distinct jobs anyway; looking after their constituents needs locally and campaigning and lobbying nationally. However, this is a quick read and it feels as though it takes minutes for Ms Phillips to stamp out 1000 words on her feelings, opinions and advice while waiting a few moments for a meeting to start or reflecting on her day on a late-night train journey home.

All topics routed around feminism are covered such as domestic violence, discrimination, trolling, education, injustice plus homelessness and the environment. There is a fair bit on the faults of the Labour Party which, I think, could have filled the whole book and been even more annoying to the current flavour of the Party. There are moments when it seems she is proud of being part of Labour, usually when they have supported a women’s issue. Although I am left wondering why she is part of it still. I suspect because her father is a Labour man.

I learn an outstanding fact: more money is given to donkey charities than to women’s. I’d support both, though, what a world to live in.

Jess says to pester women who you feel to have potential with opportunities. However, I’ve always had potential, no one has ever pestered me. No-one asked me to be on their board (although people think this happens all the time) or head up a think tank. I get asked to ‘speak’ and I say no, mainly as I don’t like it. I don’t get asked about my views and ideas to solve the issues most important to me – inequality, the environment, injustice, homelessness or education. No, I get asked to talk about how to run a business so it’s just another way of getting free advice, which is what I get asked about most.

The book has made me change my view on positive discrimination. What does it matter if there is all women candidate list if they all have the skills and the job goes to the best qualified?

My mindset about women who have been abused has changed radically since the #MeToo movement too. The book describes some harrowing incidents of near misses of the author and her friends as teenagers that neither I – or to my knowledge – my friends, endured.

It took #MeToo for me to understand why women don’t report offences. I am off the generation that believed we had to keep ourselves out of harm’s way or be ‘asking for it’. Of course, I protect myself when in lonely or dark places but now I think, absolutely, why do women have to change their behaviour? They’ve not anything wrong. Why do we have to have self-defence lessons or cover up as I’ve done my whole life?

Why do women have not run from violent, abusive partners? Why are the abusers not the ones that are watched? If anyone reports even an ounce of vulnerability, surely the simplest way of ending their abuse is by putting some cameras in their house to gain solid evidence of their abuse. Catch them, arrest them, rehabilitate them and let their victims live their lives freely. Why do the lives of the innocent have to change?

I must have missed out in the gene that told me I wasn’t good enough, or felt guilty, or had imposter syndrome as Jess talks about. Maybe I lost it somewhere with the maternity gene as I’ve never had any urge to give birth either. (Jess fell pregnant at 23 after being with her boyfriend, now husband, for a month).

I can’t be the only woman on the planet who thought I was good enough and in fact better than many just as Jess describes why she decided to become an MP. She knew she could do better than the then Justice Minister Chris Grayling who had no idea how prisons worked and couldn’t understand why prisoners may not live near the prisons they’ve just released from. SERIOUSLY.

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