I tend to get so immersed in politics and current events that I eventually need to take breaks. After I worked on a campaign in 2006, I didn’t watch MSNBC for six months. Then Obama and Clinton entered the primaries and I couldn’t stay away. I put the TV in our bedroom so I could wake up and watch the news right away while nursing our son. (His first word was “Obama.” Really.)
The only reason I can think of that I missed the publication in 2010 of Half the Sky, a compelling and heart-wrenching treatise on the oppression of women around the world written by two journalists, is that I was taking one of my breaks. During those breaks, I continue to read headlines and donate to causes I care about, but I don’t let myself get too emotional about big issues. I’ve just found that setting myself up for a heart attack in my thirties isn’t a good idea.
So I realize that touting a book published three years ago is kind of like yelling “Fire!” when everybody’s already left the theater. But when I started reading Half the Sky last night (six months after it was given to me by my mother-in-law) I was on page three when I leaned over to my bedside table and searched frantically for something to write with. The first 30 pages of my copy now have orange marker scattered throughout. You cannot NOT underline and exclamation-point your way through this book.
So if you haven’t read it or even heard about it, please look it up. I’ve skimmed ahead and read a few summaries online, and the best part about this book is that it’s a call to arms—it’s a “get fired up and here’s what you can do” kind of book. It doesn’t just talk about the problem; it offers solutions both big and little.
I’ve known about the issues the book discusses, such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, and gendercide, for a long time. But Half the Sky rephrases the argument. Somehow, it makes the issues seem new. And it really doesn’t matter when the book came out, because unfortunately it’s still relevant. My spell-check doesn’t even recognize the word “gendercide.”
Following is something I learned while reading last night that I’d like you to know too. You might need to read it twice:
…more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.