Book review: Autonomy

Review by Abby Claridge.

Only a woman can know the visceral desire to end a pregnancy she is experiencing against her will – no man… can ever understand this.’

My biggest struggle with reviewing this text was coming to terms with the fact that I would never be able to capture the profound effect this text will have on each of its readers.

Autonomy asks women, who feel they have ‘enough’ rights, to open their minds. It asks women, who do not have these rights, to feel strength in numbers. It asks men, who have never considered their reproductive privileges, to listen to the woman who is fighting for a voice.

As women we allow so much to be left unsaid and so many injustices pass us by. We are all constant representatives of our sex and this responsibility can feel like a constant weight on each of our shoulders.

In Autonomy Kathy D’arcy gathers the voices of so many women in a discussion they are so often excluded from; the sexualization of women and the restrictions of their reproductive rights.

D’arcy’s careful organisation of the structure of the book allows the reader to embrace each woman’s voice. She so clearly understands that, for some messages, a thousand words are required. While, for others, strength lies in the silence between the lines of a poem.

 Autonomy expresses female emotion in a visceral way and D’arcy achieves this is through the contrast of the various writers’ styles. D’arcy exemplifies a strong understanding of the human capacity for emotion, as she juxtaposes the true recount of the woman travelling to London for an abortion, to the dystopian short story of a woman who is treated as a walking uterus.

In fact, much of Autonomy has taken the social fascination on dystopian tragedies like The Handmaid’s Tale and used this captivation to shine a light on the abuse of woman’s reproductive rights across the globe. D’arcy proves that she understands the strength in creating fear in your readership; as ‘fear’ is essentially a cautious awareness of the future.

Autonomy is both a heartbreaking and essential conversation about what a woman is capable of, versus what she should endure. It reminds its readers of the weight of legislation in Ireland and the strength of the women pushing against it each day.

D’arcy’s text pleads for empathy, understanding and progress. As one of the poem’s enclosed reads,- ‘Don’t make her wait, don’t make that choice for any girl; This is her life, and her world…Treat her as if she were your own little girl. Give her the choice.’


For more about this book. 



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