Review in Herizons Magazine, Winter 2011

Victim No More
Women’s Resistance to Law, Culture and Power

Edited by Ellen Faulkner and Gayle MacDonald  

The title of this book says it all. Victim No More: Women’s Resistance to law, Culture and Power is a much-awaited alternative to a large body of feminist literature that treats women as passive victims, rather than as active agents of resistance against patriarchal forms of oppression.

Its two editors and 16 authors-mostly academics, a few lawyers and a couple of social workers-make the strong point that the concept of woman-as-victim plays into the neo-liberal agenda by encouraging passivity and hopelessness. The authors propose, instead, a movement towards a more encompassing framework of resistance at an individual, collective, local, national and even international level. The book is divided into five sections. Section one invites readers to think critically about the damaging effects that neo-liberal policies have on violence against women and children. It also makes a distinction between equity feminism and what the editors refer to as “victim feminism.”

Section two analyzes current legal practices and resistance strategies. It advocates emancipatory laws for which it asks the general public’s active participation. Section three traces collective resistance strategies that go beyond the law. An example is the Raging Grannies, who use humour and civil disobedience to promote radical change. Section four highlights the importance of resilience in questions related to identity and issues such as gender, culture, motherhood and drug abuse.

Finally, section five provides dramatic examples of how literary criticism has been a historical form of women’s resistance. The tragic example of Sethe (the protagonist in Toni Morrison’s Beloved) who murders her child in a bid to escape the continued enslavement of her family is analyzed.

Victim No More reminds us that justice for women is an integral part of social justice. This book deserves to be read mindfully.

  • Review by Maya Khankhoje

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