Mar 29, 2017

Ladies' book journal

I've been reading a bunch of feminist books:

Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women by Caryl Rivers
Eye-opening and funny, Boston University professor Caryl Rivers calls out "man bites dog" media coverage that asserts women naturally belong in the home, despite the fact that women are more advanced in business, academia, medicine, etc. now than ever before. These stories are designed to play into the fears of affluent, white women, manipulating these women's high buying power. Covering everything from negative representations of working mothers to salacious coverage of female murderers and crooks, this book sheds new light on the media's assault on female success.

Highly recommended as an engaging read and a source of fresh information. Also recommended for the woman who's sick of being told she's doing everything wrong.

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine
Professor Cordelia Fine's book takes an academic approach to debunking the many, many, many neuroscience studies that "prove" women are empathetic and men are mathematically-inclined. In the last section of Delusions of Gender, Fine turns her attention to gender neutral parenting and why failure to raise unisex kids does not logically imply gender differences are "hardwired."

Recommend if you frequently find yourself in arguments with misogynists and need backup in the form of research citations.

I Live Inside: Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland by Michelle Leon
I'll admit it; when I first saw this book prominently displayed on a shelf at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, I was scared to read it. I don't like screamo or death metal or anything evil. (Leon relates. At one point, she describes her unease touring with another band that featured live vomiting on stage and projected snuff videos as background.) However, with a stiff upper lip, I listened to "To Mother" and "Spanking Machine," and, as it turns out, Babes in Toyland is not scary at all, unless you find the female expression of emotion scary.* I thought it was pretty cool.

Truly a page-turner, Michelle Leon's memoir of her years in the all-female punk rock band Babes in Toyland is exhilarating, heartbreaking, and courageous. I loved every minute of the adventure, from the moment Leon decided to join the band and taught herself to play bass guitar, to the endless touring and sleeping on grimy couches, to the tragic death that caused her to rethink her commitment to the band. Leon is an excellent writer and a force of nature who has never been anyone but herself.

Highly recommend to those looking for an adventure.

The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit mixes humor and insightful analysis grounded in statistics, literary references, and astute cultural observations in her collection of essays. Some sections made me cry, but the last essay left me hopeful. Solnit recommends and praises numerous feminist authors, and I just watched her best-loved movie, "Giant (1956)" starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Recommended for literary and nostalgic sorts.

Conundrum by Jan Morris
Jan Morris's Conundrum was mentioned in Fine's Delusions of Grandeur. I've only just cracked it open, so expect an updated review soon.

Travel writer Jan Morris was born James Morris. He distinguished himself in the British military, in journalism, and he even married and produced several children before resolving to become the woman he always was. This is one of the earliest books to openly discuss trans experiences.

*Although Babes in Toyland claimed they never set out to represent the "riot grrl" genre, it's hard not to view them as a contributor to the 1990s feminist rock movement. For more on why punk rock and goth music was such fertile ground for feminism, check out this essay.