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Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women
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Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  1,414 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
In the last two years, the United States—its history, assumptions, prejudices, and vocabulary—have all cracked open. A woman won a state presidential primary contest (quite a few of them, actually) for the first time in this country's history. Less than a year later, a vice-presidential candidate concluded her appearance in a national debate and immediately reached for her ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published September 22nd 2010 by Tantor Media (first published September 14th 2010)
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Julie Ehlers
I read this book in its release year, 2011, for a book prize committee I was on here in Philadelphia. At the time, I felt like the last thing I wanted to do was relive the unpleasantness of the 2008 U.S. presidential primaries. Imagine my surprise that, in addition to being smart, insightful, and highly informative on both race and gender in electoral politics, this book was also an absolute joy to read--the writing was so wonderful that I didn't want to put it down. Incidentally, all of the oth ...more
Linda Robinson
Hmm. There is a wide-eyed, enthusiastic engagement here that would be appealing if it wasn't combined with an inclination toward comparing "the year that changed everything for American women" with the long and winding road of feminism and the fight for gender equality powered with a background white noise that smacks of the new girls critiquing the old broads. Maybe it's my greybeard status that has me feeling discomfited, and maybe I'm taking this tome personally, when it's just commentary. An ...more
Expanding Bookshelf
Jun 03, 2011 Expanding Bookshelf rated it it was amazing
Here’s the main thing: Rebecca Traister can write her ass off. If anyone was going to be up to the Herculean task of summarizing what went down in the 2008 elections with regard to gender, race, and class it was Traister. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I have already read a couple of the behind-the-scenes accounts of the election which were interesting, but ultimately forgettable. Reading Big Girls Don’t Cry brought back the most infuriating moments of the year leading up to the electio ...more
“The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, flawed and unsuccessful though they may have been, the arrival of Michelle Obama on Pennsylvania Avenue, the cultural shifts and uncomfortable exchanges these women prompted, the eye-opening revelations about the progress of women in early twenty-first-century America were in fact the most rejuvenating things to happen to the feminist conversation in many, many decades. They created and nourished a new generation of politically engaged Americans ...more
Written about the 2008 U.S. elections, this book offers a feminist perspective along with keen political commentary. It's especially meaningful to read as background to the 2016 election so far.
Apr 20, 2015 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audiobook
Every presidential election year since I've been old enough enough to vote (absentee Florida ballot in 2000, represent!), I start out in pretty deep denial. An election again? No, it can't be time for that. There's not enough wine and Xanax in the world. If I have to listen to one more blustery, backwards, misogynistic, trigger-happy, etc., etc. But by, oh, September or so, I'll be a basket case, all frayed nerves and is-this-the-year-we'll-finally-flee-for-Canada. So reading Rebecca Traister's ...more
Marjorie Ingall
Sep 23, 2010 Marjorie Ingall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grownups
I can't help comparing this to Gail Collins's When Everything Changed. Traister's book is much tighter (it has a narrower focus -- the 2008 presidential election and what it says about American attitudes toward gender and race), much less sprawling (Collins's book is this ungainly sweeping spew through American history since 1950) and much, much more pointed. I loved it and found myself doing the crazed nodding thing -- YES YES YES! OMG SO INSIGHTFUL! -- right to the edge of whiplash territory. ...more
Oct 06, 2010 GraceAnne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca Traister's father and I were friends and colleagues when she was a very small child. I have followed her writing in Salon with great eagerness. This book made me very very angry all over again. Hillary was my gal, my hero, my role model (and my age). To go through once again the extraordinary sexism of that presidential campaign was actually quite painful, even in Traister's energetic and vivid style. I don't think she was as good to my generation of feminists as we deserve, but she reco ...more
The intersection of politics, media, & gender has never been so interesting! Critically looking at the role gender politics played in the 2008 race, with discussion about the effects on the future of feminism going forward. The author follows the 4 leading ladies of this story through the political storm & beyond, includes discussions with Gloria Steinem, Jessica Valenti, Melissa Harris-Lacewell (now -Perry), Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, etc.
May 31, 2016 Karin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, I enjoyed listening to this book about women in the 2008 election. There were a few sections I personally didn't agree w/the author's take, but it gave me a lot of interesting insight. However, I would say I prefer Ms. Traitster's latest book, All The Single Ladies, to this one.
Mar 27, 2016 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p 54
Watching Michelle [Obama] reminded me of the chill I got from reading about Elizabeth Edwards teaching her kids to stand in a stiff wind. Running beneath the presidential foot-dragging, the perforation of her husband's hype, her calls to readiness, was an arresting sense of caution and realism. She might have been the only one making the sober estimate of how hard this was going to be, of what a leap people would need to take to make this happen. "Change is scary," she told the Iowans. "It w
Jan 19, 2017 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca Traister has a way of really resonating with me. I finished All the Single Ladies stunned at how deeply satisfied I felt; that book connected with me on a personal level but also taught me new ideas and challenged my perceptions. It made me feel smarter for having read it, and the best part of non-fiction is always learning more about the world.

In my excitement I begged my librarians to please get Big Girls Don't Cry. I thought I'd be too emotionally raw to get through this book -- and I
Sep 23, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nicole
This book was great! Did I love every word? No. But there was so much I DID love that I can overlook some things.

This was a book about the 2008 presidential election with lots of analysis of the sexism that went down. But really, it was about Hillary Clinton.

I learned a lot about Hillary. I learned that, before she was the First Lady, she was a super progressive politician and stood for a lot of things that I feel strongly about. Had I known that, maybe I would have supported her more in the pri
Aug 14, 2016 angela rated it liked it
Shelves: usa-usa-usa
An at-times muddled, at-times searing take on the 2008 US election, and what it meant for the ladies.

I picked this up on a party acquaintance's (?) recommendation, since I was seeking books through which I could dispense some of my #ImWithHer energy/zeal. Basically, I wanted a Hillary bio. This isn't a Hillary bio, so much as a broad overview of what the 2008 political stage looked like: Hillary, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow.

In a way, this book is ef
Nov 03, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really appreciated this book. Its prose and research is nothing extraordinary, yet, it brought back an exciting time in my young political life when women and the nation as a whole confronted the dilemmas of our first viable female presidential candidate. I was an early Hillary supporter, while my mother, author of "Courage and Cloth" a book on women's suffrage, broke for Obama.

I don't recall much of the sexism and arrogance Traister rakes up here, but such muck was certainly out there. It's e
This was fascinating! I can't believe I'm even saying this, but I was completely engrossed in this book. There is no way I would have read this if I hadn't been forced to in a challenge, but I really thought that this was fantastic.

I've never really defined myself as a "feminist". I've always believed what I believed but never put a name on it. But listening to this audiobook has me wanting to look a little more closely at that. I also appreciate that feminist is not a "dirty" word no matter how
Kristina Godfrey
Jun 17, 2014 Kristina Godfrey rated it liked it
This book can be a bit overly packed with feminista blogging info and statistics, even for those of us who believe in feminist issues. However, I got very FIRED up reading this retake on the 2008 election and the heavily sexist slamming of Hillary Clinton... and yes, even Sarah Palin. Lots of facts/details of media coverage of Obama and Clinton point out how we still have a long way to go to accept female presidential candidates. Let's just say I'm ready for Hillary to run again! Moreover, it's ...more
May 04, 2016 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book... and I don't read a lot of non-fiction. Featuring Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Elizabeth Edwards, and Michelle Obama, with nods to Tina Fey and Rachel Maddow among others, Ms. Traister discusses the role of women in the 2008 primaries and presidential election. Her own reactions to how the media portrayed women during this year-long event resonated strongly with me, especially since I see similar dynamics playing out now, in 2016. This is a smart, engaging look at w ...more
Sep 18, 2016 Kathrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
It is so interesting to read this book in the middle of the 2016 election, knowing what was ahead for the protagonists. It really allowed a look back and reminded me how far we have come, even though there is still a long way to go.

When I thought about the 2008 election before, I really just remembered Hillary as the first female contender for a presidential nomination and the kind of sexism she faced. But this book also sheds a light on Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin and what they had to deal
Dec 05, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
A most illuminating and thoughtful examination of women and politics in the 2008 US election. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. After reading this book, I feel thoroughly embarrassed about how I let the media only tell me part of the story while the election was going on. So much to think about and discuss from this book!!
May 25, 2015 Farrah rated it it was ok
This was no Game Change, that's for sure. It felt like being lectured about feminism for 12 chapters. And I mean, I AM the target audience so if I was bored, then that says something. It felt like one long opinion piece.
Sep 29, 2016 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really fascinating look back at the 2008 election, especially in 2016 when things are turning out very different for Hillary, hopefully with a win on the horizon. I would love to see this book updated to compare that election cycle to this one.
Jan 02, 2012 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Drop all the things and read this right now. Brilliant, insightful, painfully salient to this year's election. So good.
Ashley Pierce
Mar 11, 2016 Ashley Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a fascinating book to be reading alongside the 2016 primary. I loved it.
Rose Harmon
Mar 16, 2012 Rose Harmon rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender-studies
Well I don't know if the election changed EVERYTHING for women, however this is a well written book on the 2008 election focusing on Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
Apr 06, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing
This book is everything and so, so relevant especially now. Everyone needs to read it.
Novels And Nonfiction
Jan 24, 2017 Novels And Nonfiction rated it liked it
Shelves: politics

I recently reviewed Rebecca Traister more recent book All The Single Ladies, which was a history of the social and economic changes experienced by women in the wake of the feminist movement and into present time. In Big Girls Don’t Cry, Traister follows Hillary Clinton through her first attempt at being nominated by the Democrats in 2008, in which she lost the presidential nomination to Barack Obama. Initially, the book is focused on the rivalry between Hi
Alise (Read Write Repeat)
Oct 16, 2016 Alise (Read Write Repeat) rated it really liked it
Read my full thoughts on this book and hundreds more over at Read.Write.Repeat.

The book is so interesting. I really cannot stress that enough. Traister offers a wide-angle perspective on so many facets of a race that, truly, changed our history. And now, as we live out another history election cycle, it seems all the more interesting to recognize the issues at play, particularly in regard to gender.
As our recent 2012 election season was heating up this past October, I had an appetite for a politics read and thought that Rebecca Traister’s book taking stock of that other election season—in 2008—and its impact on the women’s right movement would hit the spot. And it did. Traister’s book didn't break new ground nor did it reveal insider tidbits like a few other books, but it wasn’t trying to do that. Instead, it was trying to identify and process the meaning of a historic period in which we s ...more
I was originally required to read all but four chapters of this book for my U.S. Women's Activism class (we read parts of chapters 2 & 10 and skipped 6 & 7 completely). However, so boffo was the writing that I went back on my own and finished this book up. This book showcases the climate and the women of the 2008 election - Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Obama, in particular. I would hedge a guess that whether you are into politics, feminism, both, or neither, you will still ...more
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Rebecca Traister writes about politics and gender for Salon, and has contributed to the New York Observer, Elle, the New York Times, Vogue, the Nation and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband.
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“What [Sarah] Palin so beguilingly represented ... was a form of female power that was utterly digestible to those who had no intellectual or political use for actual women: feminism without the feminists.” 14 likes
“By 1996 Nora Ephron was telling a graduating class at Wellesley, “Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back.… Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you.” 4 likes
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