By Jacky Fleming
Publisher: Square Peg
Out: 18th February 2016
Format: Hardback, 128 Pages
CAN WOMEN BE GENIUSES? OR ARE THEIR ARMS TOO SHORT?
WHY DID WE ONLY LEARN ABOUT THREE WOMEN AT SCHOOL?
WHAT WERE ALL THE OTHERS DOING?
The Trouble With Women does for girls what 1066 and All That did for boys: it reminds us of what we were taught about women in history lessons at school, which is to say, not a lot.
A brilliantly witty book of cartoons, it reveals some of our greatest thinkers’ baffling theories about women. We learn that even Charles Darwin, long celebrated for his open, objective scientific mind, believed that women would never achieve anything important, because of their smaller brains.
Get ready to laugh, wince and rescue forgotten women from the ‘dustbin of history’, whilst keeping a close eye out for tell-tale ‘genius hair’. You will never look at history in the same way again.
The Review: Back in my callow youth, one of the courses I took toward my degree was “Women in Education”. I was the only man on it and I can’t begin to imagine today what the rest of the class thought about that. Jacky Fleming’s new book reads like a ghastly parody of what I discovered at the seminars and lectures I attended, casting a humorous but effectively barbed light on men’s attitudes on women down the ages that, hopefully, we’re slowly beginning to see an end to (although I think we can all take it as a given that there’s still a long way to go).
Not only following the great British comic parody tradition of W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman’s classic 1066 And All That, Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle’s Down With Skool! but giving it a modern edge, Jacky exposes many an “educated” man’s attitudes to women down the ages, illuminating some of the bizarre observations and claims of men such as Charles Darwin (that “women’s brains were analogous to those of animals”) and Immanuel Kant (who despite being hailed by some as a radical precursor to contemporary feminism, often displayed a deep-seated conservative misogyny in what Kant actually wrote about women).
That she exposes the attitudes of the famous and society toward women, learning and their place in with such acerbic wit and keen observation is almost certainly of little comfort to many, but, to quote the French philosopher Michael de Montaigne, wit is a dangerous weapon*. Jacky wields it in style but also cuts to the quick with astonishing grace but very definitely bold and accomplished style.
Recommended. (Unless you’re Charles Darwin, Baron le Coubertin, Immanuel Kant,John Ruskin, Picasso, Schopenauer, George Romanes, Maupassant or any of the other male luminaries identified in Jacky’s book, that is…).
* Montaigne’s full quote appears to assume only men might wield humour effectively – “Wit is a dangerous weapon, even to the possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly”
About The Author
Jacky Fleming is a cartoonist, whose work first became known through her pre-internet postcards, which reached women around the world by snail mail. She studied at Chelsea School of Art, followed by Leeds University – where her contemporaries formed bands like the Mekons, and the Gang of Four. Her first published cartoon, which appeared in Spare Rib, was a university essay which she handed in as a cartoon strip.
Since then her work has featured in many books, exam papers, and publications which include The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Red Pepper, Observer, Diva, You and Big Issue. She has published six books of cartoons, five with Penguin, one with Bloomsbury. The Trouble With Women is her seventh title, published by Square Peg.
• More about Jacky Fleming on her official web site: www.jackyfleming.co.uk
All art © Jacky Fleming