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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

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  845 ratings  ·  157 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
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Published September 22nd 2010 by Tantor Media (first published September 14th 2010)
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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
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
Marjorie Ingall
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
Kristina Godfrey
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
Nov 03, 2012 Sam rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
Sara  (
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!!
Commentary on the 2008 election from a feminist perspective.

This covers Clinton's primary run and Palin's vice-presidential campaign. It examines current feminist attitudes and some of the transformations that occurred during the 2008 presidential campaigns.

I somehow had missed the history of the abolitionist and women's suffrage movements working together until passage of the 15th amendment granted the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, leaving women o
I loved this audiobook. If I had actually read the print, I might have given it 5 stars.

This book made me think about the way I felt about elections and feminism and politics in general. It reminded me of the way I felt during the 2008 elections and made me start to feel interested in the 2012 elections for the first time.

The book covered many people women who were important during the period leading up to the 2008 presidential election including Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin of course, but a
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to be able to read it and think "yes, this is the book I wanted my nieces to read when they're older and ask questions about why this particular election was such a big deal for women, politics, and women in politics."

This book didn't come close. It reads in an almost textbook-like dryness in parts, focusing on things that don't seem to matter to anyone but the author. The parts that didn't leave me fighting to get through were often confusing, filled with q
I enjoyed reading this wonderful recap of the 2008 election. Traister does an excellent job of providing enough context in discussing Clinton's past as it related to her 2008 campaign (I was young in the 90s and sort of aware of the Clintons but not especially aware), and she does an excellent job taking the reader through most of the primary results and the media's spin after each election. Traister also weaves in her own subjective position at this time which is helpful to know and understand ...more
Favorite passages:
From the chapter "Enter Palin" :
"The economic and class divide, about which John Edwards had been so adamant, which Hillary Clinton had so advantageously addressed, and about which Barack Obama had been perhaps a touch too laissez-faire - and which he may have nudged a little wider with his comments about guns, religion, and bitterness - was now being crowbarred open by Palin and McCain regardless of the fact that every bit of their agenda worked against working class and poor
Geri Spieler
In Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women, Rebecca Traister follows key women involved in the 2008 Presidential election, to tell the story “about the country and its culture, how we all reacted to the arrival of these surprising new figures on the presidential stage, and what they showed us about how far we had come and how far we had yet to go.” She does an extremely good job of reaching that goal for most of us.

The four key women involved directly, either
Feb 05, 2011 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
It was quite difficult for me to finish the book, politics and religion aside.

I like Traister's writing style and she seemed to know her topic very well. If there was someone I needed to ask a question about Hillary Clinton to, it would be her.

One other thing that I noticed was that for some reason this book was very against Catholics, especially on pro-life and pro-choice issues. She was very prone to whining about how blacks stuck with blacks and feminists voted for Barack Obama. It was as if
Kimberly French
Big Girls Don’t Cry is a nonfiction analysis of the women of the 2008 election (H Clinton, S Palin, M Obama, E Edwards), gender roles, the clash of race and gender, and the divide between older feminists and a new generation of women. Rebecca Traister did a masterful job, both analysis and reporting, opening my eyes in many ways, and also putting into words very eloquently some of what I felt passionately but often felt I got shouted down by Obama supporters. Great insight into the divide betwee ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Maggie, who just turned 18 and told me that she doesn't plan on voting
Recommended to Amanda by: Stacie Hargis
I loved this book. It is sort of slow reading, very dense at times, but so, so, so worth it. A friend picked this book for our bookclub a few months ago, and I read 50% of it before the meeting and then put it down for a while before picking it up again this week.

The book covers so much. It addresses the 2008 election, the cult of Obama, Hillary and how people felt about her campaign for the presidency and why, Michelle Obama and how she factored in, the politics of race & sex, the evolution
Kathleen Hagen
Big Girls Don’t Cry, the Election that Changed Everything for American Women, by Rebecca Traisper, Narrated by Kirsten Potter, Produced by Tantor Media, downloaded from

This was an amazing book, depressing in that Hillary was treated so badly, mostly by liberals, exciting in that Michelle Obama is the first African-American lady in the White house, and depressing in the amount of publicity Sarah Palen has gotten. The author is right, she can’t be underestimated, and it is altogether
This was a truly enlightening book, and seems key as we rapidly approach the the 2012 election. As a loud and proud feminist, I was excited to delve into this picture of the women of the 2008 election: the candidates, the wives, and the voters themselves. I found myself at times surprised, ashamed of myself, proud, and worried for the future. Traister clearly and forcefully shed light on this completely unprecedented and incredibly complicated election year in a way that I was in no way astute e ...more
I just finished listening to the edition of Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister on a cross country road trip. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Traister, a writer for, lays out an insightful and thorough examination of the 2008 election campaign and what it meant for feminism, sexism, and women in this country. As a 40 year old woman who sits somewhere between the Gloria Steinem/2nd Wave feminist generation and the 20-something blogosphere feminism, I found that ...more
Very well-written take on the 2008 presidential campaign and what it meant for feminism and for women's future potential for the White House. This story could have been told in a way that was boring, but this was very well-written and engaging. I love non-fiction page-turners. My only minor criticism is that I thought it was a bit too long-winded in the middle section, where it got into a great deal of depth about the history of the women's movement, its issues with race relations, and its gener ...more
I read the review in the Times and then happened to find myself in a bookstore this weekend. The result is that I bought the book and read the whole thing in one night.

Traister's book is about gender politics during the election of 2008: Clinton, Palin, Obama, and so many more. While it's partially about her own coming to the decision to support Clinton, it's much more an account of how gender -- and mostly sexism -- played out in the election as a whole, and particularly so in the media. On th
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
Even those of us that didn't support Clinton, Obama, or Palin during the 2008 Presidential election, agree there was little doubt that it was a historic event. It was also an election that both elevated and aggravated the feminist manifesto. Traister takes us behind the scenes of the campaigns and gives us critical perspective on why this event was so personal for American women and their century old fight to achieve equality with men. It took special kind of women to fight on in the crosswinds ...more
It was very interesting. It opened my eyes to how hard the 2008 election season was for Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. One thing that shocked me is the realization that even though I definitely consider myself a feminist, I had the same visceral dislike of Hilary that many liberals did, even though here and Pres. Obama's policies were not all that different. I don't think mine was due to sexism, but for many people it was. It just proves that sexism is still alive and well (unfortunately). At ...more
Alex Templeton
I was fortunate enough to see Traister speak about this book at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and my patience to receive it from the library was well rewarded. Traister, a reporter for online magazine Salon, writes about the 2008 election through the prisms of race and gender--but mostly gender. She describes how the ascension of Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic primary battle between Clinton and Barack Obama, brought race and gender issues in the twenty-first century to the light in a w ...more
This was a fascinating recap of the 2008 election and the way media and the public reacted to and were changed by, the women in the election, particularly Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Sarah Palin. From the beginning of Hillary's candidacy, she was treated with contempt and misogynistic rancor. Michelle Obama was forced to tone down her power and brain to better suit the media's demand for a more warm and fuzzy first lady; and Sarah Palin was celebrated by her party for using her sexualit ...more
Traister is a writer for who writes about politics and gender issues, so it's not at all surprising that she should have given us a book about the 2008 presidential election. And what a great book it is. Much of her coverage focuses on Hillary Clinton, as it ought, but she also takes long looks at Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama, women who worked behind the scenes on all three campaigns, media women who had significant impact on the way the candidates were perceived such as Rachel Maddo ...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.” 10 likes
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