Men get angry; women get PMS. Single men are bachelors; single women are spinsters. Jess McCabe wonders how Jessica Valenti limited herself to 49 examples of the double standard
When sceptics claim that feminism has done its job and it’s time to pack away the banners and go home, one of the easiest comebacks is to list some of the ways that the rules are applied differently to men and women. So it is no wonder that Jessica Valenti took the double standard as the backbone of her second book.
He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know is an accomplished and witty guide through some of the many ways that women and girls lose out in Western society. Of course, it focuses on the experience of living in the US, but many of the examples transfer over with relative ease to the UK.
Valenti uses her experience as a blogger (she founded Feministing.com) to craft short, sharp and digestible chapters. It is an undemanding read – you can flick through and choose a double standard at random – say, “he’s angry, she’s PMSing”. You are presented with a few pages at most of wry and sarcastic analysis of the issue at hand, often served with a dish of personal experience. In this case:
“I had a boyfriend not so long ago who, whenever we got into an argument, would accuse me of ‘going soap opera’. ‘Here comes Telemundo!’ he’d shout. His (clearly gendered and vaguely racist) insult was supposed to make me feel my anger wasn’t valid – that I was frivolous and silly; that I was being overly-dramatic.”