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UNKIND: How ‘Be Kind’ Entrenches Sexism

A brilliantly witty and insightful analysis of how kindness culture is used against women.

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Victoria Smith


Using the #JustBeKind trend of the 2020s as a starting point, (Un)kind explores how traditional beliefs about women’s ‘kind’ nature have been repackaged for an age that remains dependent – socially, politically, economically – on female self-sacrifice while finding the concept outdated and essentialist.

Looking at the various guises under which kindness culture is sold to women and girls – from play to self-help, social justice activism to empowerment – it argues that the pressure on women and girls has not decreased, but instead been incorporated into the ‘work’ of feminism. (Un)kind also proposes that this phenomenon ultimately distorts relations between humans, harming not just those coerced into performing ‘kindness work’ but the supposed recipients of their services. Kindness culture supports the backlash against feminism while claiming to represent feminism’s – and women’s – true nature. It is, at heart, unkind.