International Women’s Day, the F(eminism) word and spleen-venting for Dummies

by |March 8, 2010

It is  International Women’s Day today. This is the cause of both celebration and concern. Celebration because it marks the great strides that women have made over the last forty years, particularly in this country. Concern because there is so much more that can be achieved. Just one example from Australia. While women out number men in terms of university graduates, they fall woefully behind in terms of positions of power and influence in the private sector. And don’t even get me started on body image and the media.

So I arrived at work trying not to be a grumpy old woman and cheered myself up briefly by looking at our sales of Dummies books for the month. We have a huge Dummies promotion on at the moment, with a $5 cash rebate (yes, conditions apply) for Dummies books sold over the month of March.

People are taking up the offer in droves. And why wouldn’t they? In addition to our already discounted prices, we are offering the publisher’s $5 rebate. The books are fantastic – great “how-to books” on just about every topic. We’ve got the entire 1,700 odd books in our Dummies section, and it is pretty easy to search through them AND  we’ve got shelves and shelves and shelves of them in stock just waiting to be shipped. We are selling them in truckloads – everything from cloud computing to learning French, from guerrilla marketing to running a bed & breakfast and  everything in between.

So given the breadth and reach of the very fabulous Dummies brand, today is the day I really wanted to use the  F-word. F as in Feminism. And so I reached for Feminism for Dummies. And guess what? It doesn’t exist. I have just read through a 22 page hard copy list of active titles, each page having 70 titles,  and not a “feminism” to be found. That’s nix, zip, nada, nil and nothing.

What about approaching it from a different direction, edging up on the subject? Philosophy for Dummies perhaps? There I was in the warehouse, scouring its index. The F-word? Does it exist? No. The only Dummies book I could find that was even remotely related was The 60s for Dummies. It has 19 chapters, one of which is called I Am Woman: From the Frying Pan into the Fire. Hmmm.

What about the W word then – W as in Women? The only title mentioning women  is Women in the Bible for Dummies. There were of course some pretty feisty women back then, and both Eve and Lilith have been much maligned over the millennia, but hello to all of you in Hoboken, New Jersey (world HQ of Dummies), the women’s movement didn’t start and end with picking an apple for the fruit basket.

What we do have of course are Dummies books on  Endometriosis, Breast Cancer (usually but not always a women’s disease), Breast Feeding, Menopause, Postpartum Depression, Pregnancy and Fit Pregnancy. There is any number of Dummies books on cosmetic surgery, parenting, wedding planning, home decorating, female dominated crafts, tracking family history, cooking, gifts from the kitchen.

What about self help and psychology? It is a big “yes” to Existentialism for Dummies (which leads rather hilariously in the list  on to Flirting for Dummies) but there are no other “isms” related to the topic at hand. There are of course any number of how-to’s for starting, developing and ending relationships. What about business, careers and investing? How to break through the glass ceiling for Dummies – no. Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies – yes. A Woman’s guide to securing financial independence – no. Frugal Living for Dummies – yes. Surely there will be something in history, biography and politics? Women’s History for Dummies – no, Freemasons for Dummies – yes (that’s the men-only society in case you have been living under a rock).

Yes, I know, I’m ranting, having a dummy spit (pun intended),  no one cares etc. Really? I bet there will be an awful lot of people who care that Kathryn Bigelow has just become the first women to win an Oscar for both Best Picture and Best Director. A pretty good marker for International Women’s Day in my book.

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  • Michelle Prince

    March 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    There are some amazing women in science, politics and social justice participating in The Great Celebrity Book Auction – Prof Fiona Stanley, Prof Fiona Wood, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce. You can find their contributions here

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