Not Here to Make You Comfortable
50 Women Who Stand Up, Speak Out, Inspire Change
176pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99
In the vein of Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women, this is a collection of one page vignettes of 50 women who ” did something brave. Something disruptive. Something exceptional.”
Featuring familiar names from the Australian landscape such as Ash Barty, Celeste Barber, Grace Tame, Turia Pitt, Julia Gillard and Tayla Harris, as well as a host of contemporary women from around the world, this collection was inspired by the way that Grace Tame’s unsmiling face at a reception with then prime minister Scott Morrison was shared world wide and her behaviour dissected and demeaned around the world, diminishing both her and what she had fought so hard for. Once again, just as with Tayla Harris, it was a female’s appearance and demeanour that became the news story rather than their accomplishments.
And so the women at PRH Young Readers publishing section have put together this compelling collection of stories of real young women, famous and not-so, who have had the courage to stand up for their beliefs, to be bold and true to themselves, “a celebration of assertiveness and certitude”. Each entry begins with the phrase, “There was that time when…” and continues with a description of the incident, its impact, a thumbnail sketch of the person and a full-page sketch from a new or emerging illustrator.
Each is an affirmation of empowerment, often taking great courage, but resonating with today’s girls and encouraging them to be just as bold if needs be.
The activities of women in both World Wars I and II as they stepped into men’s shoes made great strides in changing the attitudes of men towards women, the activists of the 60s continued that and there have been decades of trail-blazers and game-changers since then, yet still 50% of the world’s population is subjected to irrelevant judgements, continual media coverage focusing on their appearance rather than their accomplishments, social media trolling, and toxic behaviour that is inevitably claimed to have been “consensual”. So while a book of this nature inspiring girls to be more than a pretty face and affirming their right to be so is still required, it is a grim indictment of society that it is. While the treatment of women in countries like Iran and Afghanistan, is of huge concern as it should be, it is appalling that even in Australia in the 21st century, it is clear that misogyny is still alive and flourishing and our girls need role models like those in this book to tell the world, “We’re not here to make you comfortable. We’re here to celebrate being ourselves.”