5 February 2018

Inferior, by Angela Saini

Posted by Callan Bentley

The subtitle of this useful and righteous book is How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story. It’s a scientific examination of a slew of ideas about women, busting culturally-entrenched myths left and right with that most radical of substances: data. The book is intended, I would guess, as a comprehensive review of what science currently has to say about females, motivated to support of the feminist ideal of equality between the sexes. It is organized chronologically around a woman’s life, from her time in the womb until menopause. Saini is plainly angry by persistent inequality between the sexes, and in parts of the book her writing sometimes comes off as fiery and insistent. I think this is fine, as it’s motivated by injustice (she should be angry. We all should be!), but it stands in contrast with other stretches of prose that are more reportorial, measured, and apparently curiosity-driven. I’m not sure which flavor I prefer – I think the latter is more likely to stand the test of time (as a distillation of what science has to say about a given feminist related topic), but the angry tone gels more readily with the current national zeitgeist: women fighting back against oppression and abuse. All told, I think it’s a practical compilation of relevant studies and interviews, and it has been released at a fitting moment in history.