REVIEW: Areva Martin — Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told (BOOK)
Areva Martin writes with a candor and cutting-edge sensibility that makes you want to get to know her personally. There’s something about her new book’s no-nonsense descriptors and damning observations, coupled with a fierce gung-ho attitude and ultimately positive disposition that elevates what could be depressing statistics into something hopeful, happy in tone, and empowering.
The book is titled Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told, and like any good nonfiction read is simple, to-the-point, and perfectly encapsulates its source material. There’s no intellectual unpacking of ideas Martin leaves to the reader’s imaginative capabilities. Everything is laid out unsparingly, from A to Z. And in the spirit of that conciseness, the language choice itself Martin applies is unsparing while not falling into a decidedly flowery or high-handed range. For her, the book and the topical subject matter it entails is not about a call-out. If anything, it’s a call-in. Everyone, Martin asserts, has a role to play in reversing outdated, sexist, and racist corporate practices in the workplace to make a better run enterprise that can deliver for all involved. The pros far outweigh the cons, she asserts. Rather it’s about knowing how to balance fighting for equity with the communicative abilities to bring everyone, from all backgrounds, walks of life, and corporate hierarchal levels, to the table.
This kind of approach, she writes, pertains to the presentational qualities of everything that is evidence-based, down to the ideological words and terms of expression themselves. “The words that we choose, and the images that we associate with specific words, can have a serious impact on the way that we approach issues of gender equity. Need an example? Let’s take a quick look at the word ‘feminism’,” she states. “The damning stereotypes of a feminist, the whitewashing of the feminist movement, and the silence of men in the movement have prevented us from showing feminism for what it really is: a fight for gender equity…The word ‘feminism,’ and identifying as a ‘feminist,’ has been through a rollercoaster of bad raps and misunderstanding…This is the system at play. For decades it has succeeded in separating women and convincing them that through hard work, beauty, and understanding their place, they too could live a happy life and build a happy home. In order to rebuild the system, we must rebuild the idea of who is fighting for gender equity.”
It’s this kind of generous intonation, and inclusive methodology Martin promotes that really rises Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told above its topically relevant peers. In a time where left and right can agree on one word — ‘division’ — her assertion of the facts coupled with the book’s call to action for everyone involved makes a potentially incendiary literary accomplishment wholly accessible. It’s a really nice touch that in the end does the greatest service to the goals and motivations Martin stands by.
Like any great advocate of a certain and debatably controversial issue, she knows how to make the reader feel empowerment rather than in certain sects a feeling of guilt or shame. The latter categories are replaced by, if anything, feelings of distinctive responsibility. It’s an impressive stand to take, and a welcome return to form and solidifying of message…