Women are bombarded with sexist double standards everyday that perpetuate patriarchy. Women are not able to walk freely down the street–was most men are able to–without being harassed in many and varying forms. We live in a culture where it is acceptable behavior for men to holler or “cat-call” childishly at women about our appearance when we are simply walking down the street just as it is not unlikely to be touched or groped in any fast-paced public setting such as a subway and get away just in time.
Jessica Valenti’s book He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know will fire up any woman who is sick and tired of being placed in a subordinate role through ridiculous stereotypes and double standards–and to have the confidence to effectively smash these standards. The title of the book and Valenti’s quick remarks tells it like it is and leaves out nothing when it comes to discussing our society’s and the media’s insane expectations of women.
For example, in one of her 49 passages entitled “He Walks Freely, She Gets Harassed” Valenti comments on her own experiences with street harassment and explains the absurdity of men thinking it’s appropriate to be sexual toward any woman they choose at anytime and anywhere. She debunks the obvious myth that it flatters women and enrages readers with the simple analysis that street harassment takes away women’s most basic right to just be while most men are not subject to such dehumanizing treatment.
Beyond street harassment, Valenti’s writing covers oppressive social standards that women face. From obligatory last name changing, to shaving our legs, readers will learn to peel away at these layers of tradition and see nothing but a sexist foundation that upholds these unnecessary and harmful standards which are passed down from generation to generation.
On the acknowledgment that by just letting these double standards fly ultimately allows them to exist, Valenti combats these sexist standards with more than just writing about them; she breaks down the myths, identifies the inequalities, and gives advice to women on what to do about it. Valenti’s often dirty (yet honest) mouth and witty charm lands her words in the minds of women to know what to give us guidance when we encounter these standards, while giving us the confidence to break them apart and call out what is wrong and why it’s wrong.
He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know is a wonderful collection of simple and straightforward writing on complex subjects that are very difficult to deal with. It reads much differently than much feminist writing as it is easy for anyone to understand. Valenti is wise to write this book in such a way because there is no time to waste when it comes to women’s (and men’s) ability to understand this content immediately.
Jessica Valenti, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, (Seal Press, 2008).