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3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  325 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
First Ballentine edition 1984
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 12th 1985 by Ballantine Books (first published 1984)
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Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley for a fair review. Thank you to Open Road.

There is apparently a rule for the Olympics that can require female athletes to prove that they are, in fact, female. There is no corresponding rule for male athletes. This new rule, established prior to the London Olympics I believe, was most likely done because of the success and “controversy” surrounding an African woman who participated in track events. Apparently, her competitors thought she was too manly, read too
Sarahc Caflisch
Jun 19, 2014 Sarahc Caflisch rated it liked it
If you like lists of cultural mores that are oppressing you, then read this book. Actually, if you like lists of things that informed and oppressed your mother, and maybe grandmother, and then informed how they reared you, then read this book. If you don't like that, walk on by and leave it in the Little Free Library and just know that all of us have been messed with and are doing the best that we can and everyone should leave us alone to figure it out. Upshot: Girdles will injure your organs. B ...more
K Kriesel
Nov 04, 2011 K Kriesel rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
There are many problems with this book: transphobia, stereotyping lesbians and gay men, summarizing of and speaking for all women, racial insensitivity, generalizing and bemoaning all femininities. Excellent points are made as well, sometimes in extremely specific contexts, but strong media literacy skills (the dreaded "critical thinking") are needed in order to process the book as a whole.

This is a very important Second Wave tome. I've heard/read many people bemoan Second Wave feminists for dem
Feb 07, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
I found this book an entertaining and fascinating exploration of the phenomenon, "femininity." I would like to start with the caveat that I just picked up this book in a used book store, so I have no preconceived notions of who the author "is" within activist or feminist circles. For me, this book was exactly what I was looking for. She explores the topic appropriately starting with a chapter entitled "Body", and ending with "Ambition". Each chapter is quite dense with historical references to t ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Kerry rated it it was amazing
Femininity is educational while being entertaining, and it is precisely so because it presents its case without being emotionally overwrought or preachy. It veers into neither misogyny nor misandry. Except for a somewhat derisive take on makeup, Brownmiller, for the most part, presents an idea fraught with booby traps with the emotionally neutral and orderly journalistic precision that is engaging without being irritating, straightforward without being oversimplified, and personal without being ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Athena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I had to read for class. It had a lot of interesting points, facts, and reminders. The author expressed her ideas extremely well and was clear and organized.There was an entire history of feminine behavior, be it voluntary or involuntary. Did you know that women were fired from their jobs if they cut their hair in a bob because men had fits about women with short hair? These women would be considered too masculine! If women wore pants then they would be accused of being cross-dres ...more
May 15, 2008 Hillary rated it really liked it
I whish that when women were speaking of reading “chick - lit” these are the kind of books they were referring to.

This book fiercely attacks the beauty standards that women daily and tireless attempt to stand up to. She references the history of why beauty is what it is, such as why light colored smooth skin is the ideal. Not since a Bare Essential infomercial have I been so enthralled with skin! She references people like Darwin, Hans Christian Anderson, and even the book Pride and Prejudice,
Jan magdalene
Sep 02, 2013 Jan magdalene rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
Ahh. Maybe like a perfect example of feminists worshipping masculinity and seeing anything associated with femininity worthy of being eternally trashed. Sure, it's rad to discuss the history of womyn's dress codes being enforced by the fucking patriarchy, but do you really need to follow that with moralistic arguments about why nobody would ever want to wear a skirt and all women should only wear pants because they are superior?
Also, though there is a passing reference to female-bodied people no
Ellen Keener
Dec 18, 2016 Ellen Keener rated it really liked it
Somewhat dated but does show where progress has been made and where the struggle continues for women to be who they are as a person who doesn't have to meet some artificial standards that are humanly impossible.
May 20, 2017 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
“Femininity pleases men because it makes them appear more masculine by contrast; and, in truth, conferring an extra portion of unearned gender distinction on men, an unchallenged space in which to breathe freely and feel stronger, wiser, more competent, is femininity’s special gift. One could say that masculinity is often an effort to please women, but masculinity is known to please by displays of mastery and competence while femininity pleases by suggesting that these concerns, except in small
Oct 18, 2009 Tracy rated it really liked it
She takes various "aspects" of femininity, puts them in a historical context, looks at them up through the feminist movement, adds her own critiques, and compares all this to what is expected of men. I enjoyed it. Women have a crazy amount of societal expectations placed on them, and she takes a step back and says, "Ummmm...why exactly am I supposed to keep my legs smooth and speak softly?" She doesn't say don't do these things, but questions why we're "supposed" to do them. She also throws in h ...more
Oct 16, 2008 jenna rated it it was amazing
Yeah, baby, wake up and smell the misogeny!

Tho I'm not the uber-feminist I once was when I read this at age 22 (I shave now, care how I look and I accept that others have the right to their opinions), the book's critical analysis of the feminine did make me very aware of different injunctions around me.

It woke me up to realities I took for granted and I'm still lucid of these influences and integrate them into my understand of myself and others. I think feminism is about choices-whether that be
Nov 26, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
Brownmiller offers a fascinating treatise on the origins and history of the traditional concept of femininity, distilling several thousand years of development into a slim volume packed with trivia. (As an aside, this is the book that taught me, years ago, just exactly what that whole footbinding thing really entailed.) Femininity works best in its first chapters, where Brownmiller has a tighter focus (body/hair/clothes) for her historical explorations. Toward the end, when the categories becom ...more
Jun 26, 2008 Katrina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women, feminists
Recommended to Katrina by: my friend Sharon
This was this month's selection for my feminist book club and I loved it! It was written in the 80s but everything in it is (unfortunately) still relevant today. I have always felt uncomfortable with my lack of free choice with regard to appearing feminine or not; this book helped me understand better the source of that discomfort.
Oct 09, 2010 Jezzyka rated it it was amazing
Love love love. Jam-packed with very interesting information and perspectives.

The writing is just formal enough that it's understandable but sophisticated and not dumbed down. Except for that part where she said "The phantasmagorical specter of the engulfing superbeast". Wow, Susan.
Jun 04, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
One of the books that brought me to feminism. Maybe a little dated now, but Brownmiller presents the common assumption that aspects of femininity are pre-determined by nature, and proceeds to demolish all of them. Unapologetic and potent.
Dec 10, 2015 Lara rated it really liked it
Required reading for modern feminist theory. Some outdated material on trans women and men. Overall an incredible analysis of the costs to women of femininity.
Reading with Cats
Dec 23, 2016 Reading with Cats rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, own, feminism, freebie
Originally published in the 80s and, sadly, not a lot has changed since then.
Jan 03, 2010 Guy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought off of a discount table. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the interesting — and significant trivia — it contains, such as where "rule-of-thumb" and "blue blood" come from.
Jun 16, 2017 Karen-Leigh rated it liked it
Shelves: feminist
Should be read by every woman at least once.
this book is no good.
Chava rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2012
Maria rated it liked it
Aug 08, 2012
M. Hamilton
M. Hamilton rated it it was amazing
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Sep 25, 2007
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Dec 19, 2011
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Susan Brownmiller (born 15 February 1935) is an American feminist journalist, author, and activist best known for her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.

Brownmiller also participated in civil rights activism, joining CORE and SNCC during the sit-in movement and volunteering for Freedom Summer in 1964, wherein she worked on voter registration in Meridian, Mississippi. Returning to New
More about Susan Brownmiller...

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“Depending on what was available in a given climate, a variety of porous fibers were used (and still are used in most countries) to stanch the monthly blood: makeshift paddings of roots and husks, homemade tampons of wadded paper, cotton or wool, and reusable diapers fashioned from folded lengths of heavy cloth, the shameful, bulky menstrual rags of my grandmother’s generation that were furtively scrubbed in cold water and left to dry in a secret place.” 0 likes
“As Beauvoir remarked, “It is not easy to play the idol, the fairy, the faraway princess, when one feels a bloody cloth between one’s legs; and, more generally, when one is conscious of the primitive misery of being a body.” 0 likes
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