Thinking Like a Woman: Personal Life and Political Ideas


271 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-894549-05-8
DDC 305.42'01





Reviewed by Shelley Z. Reuter

Shelley Z. Reuter is an assistant professor of sociology at the Memorial
University of Newfoundland.


Thinking Like a Woman is a collection of philosopher Christine
Overall’s regular contributions to The Kingston Whig-Standard.
Arranged thematically into six sections, these short feminist essays
deal with everything from winter boots and socks that go AWOL to
provincial politics and social inequalities.

Beginning with her “personal life,” Overall introduces herself and
the book with essays “From Memories.” She writes of family life, her
childhood, and her identity as sister, wife, mother, daughter, and
granddaughter. In “From the Body,” she describes her struggle with
viral arthritis and shares her thoughts on disability, health and
illness, and Western medicine. She also explores the privilege accorded
to certain bodily characteristics, including “whiteness, maleness,
youth, health, and heterosexuality.” Her experiences as a feminist
mother (of both a son and a daughter) are described in a section
entitled “From the Home.”

In the latter half of the book, Overall moves from the personal to the
political. In “From the Not-So-Ivory Tower,” she rails against
rising university tuition, class differences, religious indoctrination
in schools, homophobia, sexism, and ageism. “From the Newsroom”
contains critical commentary on current issues and events, such as
cloning and reproduction, aggressiveness in children’s hockey, women
in politics, the Robert Latimer case, and violence against women. The
book closes with ideas “From the Philosopher’s Heart,” where she
ponders a number of different issues ranging from diversity among women,
to vegetarianism, to celibacy and the Church.

The tone of this book is captured best by a piece entitled “What’s
It Mean to Be a Feminist? Not What You Might Think.” With the gentle
thinking-out-loud approach Overall takes to a surprisingly wide variety
of topics, she dispels the myth that feminists are concerned only about
women’s issues in the narrowest sense. Rather, all issues are
women’s issues, she observes, and her ability to present them in such
common-sense terms would give pause to even the most strident
anti-feminists. Thinking Like a Woman is a very pleasant read.


Overall, Christine., “Thinking Like a Woman: Personal Life and Political Ideas,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,