SUBJECT: 3.5/5

“There is no denying the fact that girls and women in India have made considerable progress, but still they have to struggle against many social evils in the male-dominated society.  Although the country’s Constitution says women are legal citizens and have equal status to men, women are still considered powerless and are mistreated both inside and outside the ‘neutral space’ of home.”
–        Dr. Sarika Jain, SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls!

My musings

Though mostly read for pleasure, sometimes books can be a powerful tool of social influence. It takes great courage and an equally fervent passion for writing something that attempts to redefine social concepts and challenge conventional norms.

Dr. Sarika Jain’s SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls! is one such book that attempts to break stereotypes and usher a new era of feminist writing. After all feminism at its core is nothing but humanism. Read on to know more about my thoughts on the book and about my experience of reading it.

What to expect?

Expect a book that talks about feminism. Expect a book that talks about all the issues that still plague an average Indian woman. Expect a book that is quite loaded with examples and information. And finally, expect a book that will be an ideal read for feminists and for those researching about feminism.

What is the book all about?

The core message of the book is reflected in its subtitle. The byline reads ‘A message for those who belittle girls’ and the name SHE is expanded as ‘Stop Hurting Me Every day’. It is a book that talks about a lot of socially relevant topics that still have an impact on Indian women.

By the way of citing relevant examples and statistics, it berates those who look down on women and those who tell women to behave in a particular way because of their gender.

It shames those who think women aren’t strong or important and those who think that women can’t have aspirations or dreams. Wherever it necessitates, the author quotes recent statistics and government laws and policies.

Who can read?

Given the borderline academic content and a rich language, the book might come across as a difficult read for beginner level readers.

The research and the examples

That a lot of research has gone into the making of this book is evident from the very first chapter. It seems like a product of a lot of hard work not to mention innumerous hours. The examples quoted in the book are not just diverse in terms of the time period but also in terms of occupational fields and in their relevance to women from both urban and rural backgrounds.

While on one hand, we get to read about Kalpana Chawla and Indra Nooyi, on the other we have strong women like Chand Bibi and Ahilyabai Holkar. Rudrama Devi, Sucheta Kriplani, Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, Chhavi Rajawat, Matangini Hazra, and Dr. Tessy Thomas are a few of those talented and fearless women whose names you would come across in this book.

What did I like?

For those seeking knowledge, this book would be god sent. I love how it has been written keeping Indian women and their struggles at its core. It is so exhaustive and extensive in its content and examples that a researcher would greatly benefit from every single page of this book.

I also like the tone of the book. It is personal and at the same time universal. It is subtle yet powerful, polite yet assertive, and at the same time urgent yet accommodating. This is a commendable feat that the author has achieved in her very first book.

What did I not like?

There are two things that I did not like in the book. The first is the information overdose. There are innumerous examples in every single chapter and though this seems quite interesting and informative at first, it soon gets a little tiring for the reader.

My second qualm with the book is the way it is structured. SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls! leaves a lot to be desired especially when it comes to typesetting, the font styling, and sizing and the overall concern for the reader’s comfort. The paragraphs are too crowded, the font too small and the margins too narrow. This makes reading the book a not so pleasant experience.

What could have been better?

The structuring and planning of the content could have been better. For a nonfiction book of such magnitude, it is important to keep the content interesting because after a while things can get quite monotonous. And this is exactly what happens with SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls!

A small suggestion would be to use an optimum mix of charts, graphs, diagrams, pictures, illustrations, a recap section or box, bullet points, examples and personal anecdotes to keep things less monotonous. 

In the end

In the end, SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls! is a book that heralds a new age of feminist nonfiction in India. It is a book aimed to change perceptions and mindsets and thus should be on every feminist’s reading radar.

My final verdict

Can be read!

Pick it up

  • If you like books that talk about social issues.
  • If you are looking for a serious read.
  • If you are looking for a book on feminism especially in the Indian context.
  • If you like books with a lot of examples.
  • If you don’t mind amateurish writing.
  • If you are doing research on the subject of feminism in India then this would be an informative read.

Skip it

  • If you don’t like nonfiction.
  • If you are looking for light nonfiction.
  • If you are not comfortable reading books that have small fonts and narrow margins.
  • If you don’t enjoy books that have an information overload.
  • If you are looking for very high-quality content on feminism.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy SHE: A Message for those who Belittle Girls! using the link below.