Gender Rebels, by Anneka Harry

Gender Rebels: 50 Influential Cross-Dressers, Impersonators, Name-Changers, and Game-Changers, by Anneka Harry
Published by Little A, 1st June 2020
Genres: Nonfiction, feminism, LGBTQ+
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased


Meet an incredible array of women from throughout history, who defied all the rules of the time to progress and thrive in a man’s world. From soldiers to pirates, to politicians, doctors and many more. These women stopped at nothing to create their own destinies and pave the way for future generations.

“The world will know and understand me someday. But if that day does not arrive, it does not greatly matter. I shall have opened the way for other women.”

Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin (1804-1876)

My thoughts

This sounds like a really amazing book, right!? The premise is genius: to shine a light on unknown or little-known women in history who defied the norms and made huge advancements for women worldwide. What a great idea!

Sadly, I was very disappointed and ended up giving up on this book after struggling through the first half. Only very rarely do I not finish a book, I usually try to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it will grow on me. But I just had so much trouble with this one that I had to give up.

But first, some positives. As I said, I loved the concept of this book and I am sure that a tremendous amount of research went into it. It can’t have been easy to find historical references to these women who were effectively ghosts, as they were often pretending to be other people.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the structure. Each woman has her own chapter, dedicated to her life and achievements. Although quite short, these provide an idea of the struggles and hardships these women faced and their courage and determination to do better for themselves.

Now for the negative… I would have continued reading this book had it not been for the writing style. However, I really struggled to engage with the style, the vocabulary used and the painful attempts at humour. I imagine that this style of writing was intended to make the book seem more casual and modern when it could otherwise have maybe been a little boring, historical and stuffy. But the unsuccessful one-liners, the use of hashtags and the metaphors just did not work for me.

I mean, who describes Joan of Arc as “like the Justin Bieber of war-torn France”??

My rating: 2/5

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