Nasty Women Review – In Case Of Emergency Break Glass

Nasty Women review


Nasty Women is an anthology of essays by women reflecting on the issues we face in the 21st century. CLASP IT TO YOUR HEART.

Nasty Women, the anthology from 404 Ink, has been launched on 8th March 2017. Yes, on International Women’s Day. It’s a great day to support and raise visibility of all women – women of colour, trans women, disabled women and any other women out there, and the wisely chosen launch date could not be more apt.

In today’s strained political climate, it all too often feels like the centre cannot hold. In counterbalance, Nasty Women provides a many-hued kaleidoscope of women’s reflections on a wide variety of issues affecting women in the 21st century. These essays fit perfectly in your hand, in your brain. Absorb their content and be nourished. Turn their pages just as you would turn that kaleidoscope to view one perspective after another, the authors voicing deep and personal insights about the world.

Each essay is thoughtfully, beautifully crafted to bed the writer’s words down in the garden of your mind and heart. For you are a rich soil in which these words can flourish. Each woman speaks of what she knows, what she’s lived. It’s such a relief to hear such a welcome multitude of voices.

Take Ren Aldridge, whose essay considers gendered violence in the punk community – a world that’s supposedly non-hierarchical. She talks honestly, with care, about her tiredness and resilience in using her mic at gigs to talk about consent. The words ‘survivor’ and ‘calling out’ have an established meaning but also a personalised nuance to everyone – flick the kaleidoscope and the words will appear completely different from one person to the next. She talks of this, and how she thinks of “calling out as caring, in that if someone I care about fucks up, I expect better from them and I want them to rectify their behaviour.”

These writers all know how important words are. Take Nadine Aisha Jassat, who says “I have lost count of the times I have been called Nadia, even when stood next to a board with my name written on it.” She goes on to say that “for me to ask you to correctly pronounce my name is a political act: by doing so I am refusing to accept a lesser version, refusing to compromise on the notion that I and my identity matter. For mispronunciation is Othering; it exists in a contenxt of us feeling that we have to bend, change, shape or erase ourselves to fit in.”

Ah. Fitting in. The expectation on any woman to crawl into a mold snugly and neatly and lie there, still and silent, with no overspill. There’s all that frustration and othering which women experience when they can’t fit their mold, or they won’t, or when society has otherised them so much that it can’t even begin to design a mold for them to fit in.

“I write as a Black woman,” says Claire L. Heuchan. “Being Black and female, that’s fairly unavoidable. I make a cup of tea as a Black woman. I have spent around 300 hours playing Fallout: New Vegas as a Black woman. The mundane and the personal elements of life as a Black woman in British society are, for the most part, not controversial.” The story doesn’t end there. She goes on to point out the reduced likelihood of being hired, the fetishising of bodies by white men who think “Black girls are always up for it” and white women who touch hair without permission. “Black women are bombarded by reminders,” says Claire L. Heuchan, “that we do not fit. Every time a stranger persists in questioning where I’m really from, the truth – that I was born in Glasgow – is met with a palpable layer of incredulity.”

Three voices, then. Just three voices speaking their truths, and I love these voices as much as I love all the others in this superb collection of over twenty gorgeous, piercing and powerful essays about the big and the small of being a woman today. You know, in the kind of social climate where Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” and also by the way admitted to sexual assault and still became the 45th President.

This book is for deep, joyous reading. Nasty Women must be loved, listened to and lifted up on the world’s shoulders. No, not just the book, but also the women.

But yes. Also the book.

Let us lift this timely anthology on our shoulders. Let us marvel how its essays are a chorus of Greek muses, clarifying what really, truly needs to be said. Let us read the heck out of it.


Buy ‘Nasty Women‘ on Amazon.