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Nero Book Awards, Non-Fiction category, 2024

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349726953

Price: £10.99

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‘A book that could not be more necessary’ Observer

‘Eloquent, clever and devastating’ The Times

‘Deftly illustrates how ageist misogyny remains an acceptable prejudice’ Guardian

What is about women in middle-age and beyond that seems to enrage – almost everyone?

In the last few years, as identity politics has taken hold, middle-aged women have found themselves talked and written about as morally inferior beings, the face of bigotry, entitlement and selfishness, to be ignored, pitied or abused.

Hags asks the question why these women are treated with such active disdain. Each chapter takes a different theme – care work, beauty, violence, political organization, sex – and explores it in relation to middle-aged women’s beliefs, bodies and choices. Victoria Smith traces the attitudes she describes back to the same anxieties about older women that drove Early Modern witch hunts, and explores the very specific reasons why this type of misogyny is so powerful today. The demonisation of hags has never felt more now.

Victoria Smith has decided in this book that she will be the Karen so nobody else has to be, and she ends on a positive note, exploring potential solutions which can benefit all women, hags and hags-in-waiting.


Riveting, vital and impossible to read without rage
Lissa Evans, author of Old Baggage
My polemic of the year . . . a book that could not be more necessary (a sword and a shield) in the current climate
Rachel Cooke, Observer
Her book traces the hatred and fear of the middle-aged woman back through history . . . The greatest joy of Hags is its lively erudition . . . This eloquent, clever and devastating book describes the last remaining acceptable prejudice, one that is now even posited as progress: the loathing of older women
Janice Turner, The Times
Devastating and clever
Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
Deftly illustrates how ageist misogyny remains an acceptable prejudice and, in laying out the ignominies visited upon middle-aged women, feels justifiably livid
Fiona Sturges, Guardian
Smith makes an impassioned, powerful case . . . Hags can't come soon enough'
Mail on Sunday
Hags is rich and complex and witty and cleverer than I am. (You'd never get a male reviewer saying that.) I hope it won't be read only in an echo chamber, by the women who are, as Smith was once called to her delight, 'a batshit Mumsnet thread made flesh'. I hope it will also be read by young women who think me and the author terrible Terfs and bigots for believing in single-sex spaces; by young anyones; by the middle-aged and the elderly; by any man born of a mother; and by all those who agree with Smith when she writes: 'I am not frightened of change. I am frightened of things staying the same.'
Rose George, Spectator
A brilliantly witty, engaging and insightful book; a righteous polemic which examines and questions why so much hatred is directed towards middle-aged women - and, crucially, what this means for women today . . . a punchy, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable read
Eleanor Fleming, Scotsman