Imagine a world where women are pitted against each other, forced to comply with nigh unattainable standards of beauty and behaviour, and live their lives entirely according to the whims of men who treat them with nothing but contempt. Oh sorry, you don’t need to imagine. That’s our reality*. Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours** is our reality up to eleven. I’ll say it now: massive trigger warnings for eating disorders, shaming of women’s sexuality, rape culture, misogyny, domestic violence and toxic masculinity. As someone who, like most women, has struggled with body image (etc.), I was not terribly affected, but I cannot speak for other readers and potential readers.
freida is entering the final year of School. She is 16, and with her 29 classmates she has spent the last twelve years of her life in a routine of maintaining stringent beauty standards, learning proper feminine behaviours, and being rated weekly on her appearance by her peers as well as total strangers. In the future earth of freida’s birth, sex-selective abortion almost led to the extinction of the human race. It was decided that women must be designed and educated to become the mothers of future generations. But, since men need more than just wifely companionship, a large number of concubines are also required. freida’s destiny is to become either one of ten companions, a concubine, or a chastity–a celibate teacher for girls at the School. Continue reading