Animal – Reviewed

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female BodyAnimal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I decided to read this book, because I’m a fan of Sara’s television and radio work. It didn’t live up to expectations. The book is part autobiography, part science and part feminism. An unusual mix to say the least, now add humour to all that too. That’s the problem with this book, it’s not sure what it wants to be.

The scientific sections felt like rehashes of Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything, though there were a couple of tidbits that were new and intriguing. Like the existence of kamikaze sperm, which exist to sabotage the fertilisiation chances of sperm, from other males. Thus implying that women are evolutionarily slutty polyamorous. Also the body dimorphism theory, relating difference in gender size to degree of monogamy.

With that out of the way, what I really didn’t like was the style she’s chosen. At times, it feels like a child has written it. I assume she’s done this for comedic effect but it comes across quite silly and annoying, especially as she’s trying to talk authoritatively about scientific fact. Some of the humour is really cringeworthy, she’s trying too hard to be funny, perhaps because she thinks the subject matter is dry, and ends up crowbarring in some poor jokes to compensate. In fact, I almost gave up on the book after 70 pages. What I most liked, was the autobiographical parts, she’s lead an interesting life, I would have liked to have known more. These were at times both harrowing and heartening.

I’m not sure if she’s joking when she says “There wouldn’t be any wars if women ruled the world”. Is this whimsy or casual misandry? She repeats it twice so maybe she’s serious. Let me stereotype for a second too, women are often seen as bitching behind the backs of their friends and being quite viscous to each other. Would a world lead by these sots of people be full of fewer wars? How about refutation by example, Margaret Thatcher declared war on Argentina. You could argue she was left no choice by the Argentine invasion but nonetheless having a woman in charge didn’t reduce the number of wars. I don’t think men are the problem, arseholes are. Unfortunately the world is run by arseholes who happen to be men, Assad, Putin, Saddam Hussein etc.

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