The title of this book ‘The Jezebel Effect, why the slut-shaming of famous queens still matters’ grabbed my attention immediately. I knew the author’s name from another book she has written, and that is still waiting to be read in my bookcase, ‘Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII’.
The book used quite strong language, and I imagine that is not to everyone’s taste. However, it fits with the subject of the book. The book isn’t just about famous queens; it also talks about plenty of recent tragic cases. The women in them are, naturally, defended by Kyra Cornelius Kramer, but she also resorts to calling the men names. Though perhaps not so sexually motivated as ‘slut’ I could have done without ‘wash-up one-hit-wonder’ and ‘fellow draft dodger’, just to give two examples.
Several Queens are discussed including the title character of Jezebel, Queen of Israel whose name has become a synonym for ‘an evil, scheming or shameless woman; an immoral woman’.
I finally managed to get into the book by chapter six, and it’s not until Chapter 11 Anne Boleyn shows up. She’s quite possibly one of the most famous so-called sluts. ‘Nothing says trollop like women debating theology and encouraging religious growth in her boyfriend’. Even her sister Mary, the ‘great and infamous whore’, gets an honourable mention. We move on to their cousin, Catherine Howard, whose sole crime was having two boyfriends before marriage. Catherine the Great is next up with the incredible rumour that she died while having sex with a horse and amazingly that rumour overshadows all the amazing things in her life, and this boils down to the whole point of the book. Why does the slut-shaming of famous queens still matter? Because it sends a strong cultural message to the girls and women alive today. I agree about that with the author, but I would also like to add that it matters because it creates an incorrect or at the very least an incomplete image of the queens themselves.
Overall, the book is an interesting read. It isn’t just about history, so be aware of that if you’re interested in reading it. It is certainly a book that needed to be written, even if I don’t agree with everything that is being said. (UK & US)