Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: Off with Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power, by Eleanor Herman

Eleanor Herman’s Off with Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power is something every woman should read.

It’s sad, funny, irreverent, factual, well-written, and a hell of a good time, even though the subject is a serious one. Her examples are spot on, and there is plenty to chew over (I now have to rethink my opinion of a biblical figure I have valued for many years based on some facts she unveils that I didn’t know). I love books that challenge me to think about things I have taken for granted over the years, so this is very welcome, even though it changes a lot of what I believed I knew about this particular figure.

She opens by reading a lot of hate speech against a powerful woman, then notes that she bets we were thinking she was reading about Hillary Clinton, but she wasn’t. She was reading about what people said about Cleopatra. And with that, we are off on a long, exploratory journey of how (and a bit of why) men have demonized women who have any kind of real power.

For some folks, a lot of this will seem like Feminism 101, but it is assuredly important because, as my Mom used to say, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

So, I stand in my assessment – every woman (and those men who claim to be allies) should read this. In my book, it’s right up there with india.arie’s song Video, in terms of teaching women self-respect.

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