Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons
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Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  748 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Deluged by persuasive advertisements and meticulous (though often misguided) advice experts, women from the 1940s to the 1970s were coaxed to "think pink" when they thought of what it meant to be a woman. Attaining feminine perfection meant conforming to a mythical standard, one that would come wrapped in an adorable pink package, if those cunning marketers were to be beli...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 2002)
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Synesthesia
Jun 04, 2009 Synesthesia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Feminists, historians
I finished this book today. It was extremely interesting. I can't believe people back then DOUCHED with LYSOL! Were they insane? They shoved these silly ideas about being a woman and being a man down people's throat. It was as if every ad was laced with some sort of arsenic.
I hate that whole idea of women having to act weaker and dumber in order to make men feel stronger and more masculine. Why couldn't people just be themselves?
Because underneath all of these instructions about how a woman sho...more
Ciara
this was a selection for my feminist book club. i had already read it shortly after it came out because, as i say in every review i write of lynn peril's books, she used to write a zine called "mystery date" & it is practically impossible for me to not read books written by former zinesters.

this book is fabulous, although maybe not a great choice for a book club. lynn describes "pink think" as the feminine social conditioning that is laid on girls & women from the very moment that they...more
Laura
An interesting look at how society defined, and then reinforced, femininity in the 1930s-70s, but mostly focused on the 40s-60s, with an epilogue about today. The author looks at advertisements, magazine articles, and books written for and about women to argue that to be feminine was to be a submissive homemaker and wife, and that that 'norm' was intentionally reinforced through education and marketing for the entirety of a woman's life - from birth through marriage, she was expected to act like...more
Dawna
I felt bi-polar reading this book. Laughing one minute and wanting to really cry the next. Frightening stuff! I loved it.
Christie
The full-page ad that graced women's magazines in 1958 was so discreet as to be mysterious: a pink-suited socialite posed atop San Francisco's Russian Hill, while her servants carried a bevy of pink gift-wrapped boxes from her car to her fashionable apartment building.

From board games and toys for little girls to home ec classes and puberty filmstrips for teens to guidebooks and advertisements for women, the message was clear to everyone that women needed to "think pink." Just because someone w...more
Chris Webber
What a fascinating book! The author takes us from the time when the color pink is first associated with females in the early 40's and shows how the image of the feminine has been shaped in the media. She uses the most amazing examples of how women have historically framed their entire identity according to how they are perceived by men. In the submissive role, they lived in fear of somehow offending the man/men in their lives by doing everything by speaking her mind, not being attentive enough,...more
a.lamantia
Very entertaining read that explores the 20th century messaging (through advertising and advice guides) directing women to marry - or perish. That may not be exact...it may have been more about complete, perfect femininity and learning to be the perfect wife, but in the end that's the goal.

I was a little disappointed when Lynn Peril admits to owning ridculous amounts of lipstick and being married. She talks about resisting the how-to-snag-a-man messaging in her early, tomboy days, and I made th...more
Efox
I stocked this book while working at the UI bookstore and decided it's pink cover and amazing insert of color illustrations featuring mid-century ads and pictures of games like "Mystery Date" and "Wow: the Fast Action Pillow Fight game for Girls" was too interesting not to get. Re-reading it I still found it as entertaining and, in some cases, absurd as I did the first time.

Lynn Peril surveys the many conflicting media messages about what it means to be "feminine" between the late 1930's and 19...more
Lia
This was a fascinating look at mental hygiene (mental hygiene is "The branch of psychiatry that deals with the science and practice of maintaining and restoring mental health, and of preventing mental disorder through education, early treatment, and public health measures," or telling people how to think and behave in order to be socially acceptable) for women during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It is very disturbing, and also very complete. The layout of the book was perfect; font choices, page layou...more
Peacegal
Teens Today bluntly told readers in 1959 that "[w]hether you're an airline hostess...or a secretary, you know that eventually you'll want a husband, a home, children. That's just how it is: you're a woman."

Laugh-out-loud funny, sad, and terrifying, this is an important book that will stick with you long after you've finished reading.

Pink Think reminds us how few opportunities our mothers and grandmothers really had--society expected them to emerge from the school system by immediately pairing o...more
Kennedy
This was a fabulous book.

I love non-fiction and sociology related books, so it's no surprise I enjoyed this one. It's a study in gender roles, particularly the 1950's-70's. As an almost 28 year old, I have never felt that being a female has in any way limited me. I've never believed my sole or main duty in life was to get married and have babies. However, in reading this book I realize how close we are in history to that type of attitude.

Peril's book focuses on advice books, games, pop culture,...more
Runey1
May 27, 2007 Runey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Lynn takes vintage books, advertisements, and recordings from the 1940's through the 1970's to demonstrate how gender socialization, or "pink think" as she calls it, changed and invaded every aspect of popular culture. Lynn punctuates most of her chapters with a light-hearted wit and sarcasm, and a lot of the writing seems to have a tone of mild affection for these pieces of nostalgia, even as she points out how absurd they really are. The overall effect is that she can skewer these antiquated v...more
Miina
If you just read the first two pages of each chapter, you can pretty much surmise the rest of the book. While Lynn Peril does a truly fabulous job of throwing example upon example at the reader demonstrating the pervasiveness of "Pink Think" - how consumerism was used the social dictates of feminity to sell products, she utterly fails to offer any kind of analysis of where, when why and how Pink Think originated and was allowed to perpetuate so massively. Page upon page of regurgitated ads and q...more
Stefanie
Very interesting factual book. The author has an extensive collection of "Pink Think" propaganda... articles, games, advertisements, etc that motivate women in the 20th century to be good wives, mothers and how to be feminine. I could not fully understand the author's opinion of these items. Her biggest concern was around the lack of factual information on sex as it relates to birth control and preventing diseases. But I liked that we were missing her opinion - it allowed me to review the facts...more
Monica
Pulling from her collection of femorabilia, Lynn Peril throws the reader straight into the surreal, saccharine-sweet world of women from the 1940's through the late 1970's. Starting with questioning the concept of "femininity" to exploring how it appears in most aspects of our day-to-day lives, "Pink Think" just sort of melts your brain and chills your heart. As a woman, you walk away counting your blessings being born in a less restricting time and then begin to question just how far we've real...more
Melissa Schmidty -Schmidt
Reads like a series of blog posts as the author offers an unscholarly, chatting-ly informal exploration of what was called 'self-improvement' literature from what could be considered the preenlightenment era of gender role definition. Some of the excerpts are disturbingly amusing, reflecting some ideas that seem antiquated, at times inconceivable. A quick, light and fun read.
Erin
I liked this book quite a bit-- it's a slightly fluffy, enjoyable to read book on a brief period in (white) women's history. It reminded me a little bit of the Feminine Mystique, only less dense.

I learned some new things from this book, and found its analysis of home economics programs and their history really fascinating, especially since Phi Kappa Phi recently published an entire Forum issue dedicated to honoring home economics.

Some of it is a little "duh" but the book is well-written, and I c...more
Rachel
This was an awesome book, at times hilarious but incredibly disturbing. It just goes to show that there was no such thing as "the good old days." Of course, advertising still plays to girls' and women's insecurities, with very destructive effects. Unfortunately there are still plenty of women who are making themselves sick and crazy trying to live up to an idealized image. In some ways the more things change, the more they stay the same. But that book did make me thankful for living in this time...more
Amber
I was so excited when I saw this book! I have a zine from the author from when I was in high school. It was called "Mystery Date" and the outer covers were done on pink paper. The articles inside include information about feminine board games from other nations (Sweden's Droom Telefoon, anyone?) and a lengthy article on the medical horror and mystery surrounding menstruation. It is all done lightly and hilariously without losing the point which is What are People Thinking? It's like Where the Gi...more
Heather
This was actually a very interesting book! I think it had been used as a textbook in a women's study course or something, because there were several notes in the margins, etc.

It is amazing how far society and women have come in the past 40 years. Little girls used to be groomed for marriage and motherhood, now we try to groom them to be good people and learn how to take care of themselves..but, do we really ever quit waiting for that Prince Charming to come?

I highly suggest this to anyone who wa...more
debbie
Jun 04, 2007 debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women and men everywhere
the things women have put up with throughout time! Communism lurking in the shadows waiting to spring up through an unmarried, unfeminine woman...lysol as a feminine product...the craziness of it all is captured in this book...a really good and thought provoking book which made me wonder if we've come that far really. we're still being told that we must be thin, blonde, and young to nab a man...(none of that applies to me)...i recommend this book to everyone curious about what a woman would put...more
Tara
a book about how the media marketed to girls and women back in the day (40's, 50's etc) and the conditioning of girls vs boys. its a really interesting read, i liked it because its not the current talk about like the britney affect, it'll talk about when mattel made the first train marketed to girls and it came in bubblegum pink but wouldnt sell cause girls didnt want a pink train, they wanted a real looking train. its a good book and has some great nostalgic pictures of ads, now that i think of...more
Jenny
I'm not usually interested in reading historical stuff, but this was actually a fascinating account of not-so-common feminist history. I really enjoyed all of the bizarre tidbits like pink being a gender neutral color till the 50's when it became associated with women and girls or how Lysol had once been a multi-use chemical for cleaning houses and douching. Really can't imagine that one and it pains me to think about, but it's a fascinating book. All the photos are very cleverly paired with the...more
Pia
So little of the information in this book was new to me that I found myself skimming to look for more analysis. There wasn't any.Such a high proportion of this book is either images of advertisements or quoted material that I was surprised the author spent so much of her time rehashing what she was quoting.

This book is interesting as a documentation of the ways that consumerism influences gender roles, but if you're looking for thoughtful cultural analysis, you'll have to find it elsewhere.
Inder
I read most of this in the middle of the night while taking care of my newborn baby boy, which was a bit ironic (or something). It's an entertaining and sometimes disturbing tour of vintage 1940s-1970s magazines, advertisements, charm, and home ec books, and the way they educated women in gender roles. While I enjoyed the awesome quotes, I felt that the book was lacking in subtlety - the author simply sees all traditionally women's work as drudgery, and never analyzes this more deeply.
Terry
Aimed at anyone interested in women's studies, media, popular culture, or fun-stuff-from-the-past, it's so witty and fun--which is nice because, you know, feminists don't have a sense of humor. (So the conservative English teacher at the high school where I work keeps telling the kids. Auuugh.) The author will be familiar to any regular readers of Bust or Bitch magazines. Probably all my friends have already read this book, but I still recommend it highly to all!
Susan
Nov 20, 2007 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: budding feminists
This was a book I picked up cheap from a used book store. I definitely enjoyed reading it; there are tons of cool pictures and examples of all the things in our culture that manipulate us to think a certain way from a young age. I didn't give this book a higher rating because there was not really anything new that I learned in it. So perhaps this book is best for people who are just starting to learn how consumerism and the patriarchy tie in together.
Jackie
This was a great book that I read in my Women's Lit class. Its was meant as a text, not a story its a study/review of gender assignments in society (marketing, art, etc). It even talks about toys and games. It was very interesting and I went through and underlined the hilarious presumptions from the 1950s about women's needs wants and desires.

I always think of the movie Mona Lisa Smiles when I hear things out of this book. Its a good one.
Kristen Northrup
This was a good book for me because I never took any sort of women's studies, sociology, etc in college. This is written at a very general public level. Think James Lileks. It's anecdotal rather than analysis. Which is what I wanted. It was entertaining. In a 'oh how could they?' sort of way. One of those books where I jotted down page numbers of particularly amusing bits, for passing along later, and ended up with rows and rows of numbers.
Angie
This is a must-read for feminists, especially those just discovering it. It's a funny book, chock-full of examples (yes, that do become repetitive after a while) of the "pink think." The great thing about it is that it's satire, and thankfully in today's society we can look at quotes such as "Brains do not harm a woman as long as she keeps them hidden well" and realize their ridiculousness.
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Lynn Peril was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. She writes, edits and publishes Mystery Date: One Gal's Guide to Good Stuff, a zine devoted to her obsession with used books (particularly old sex and dating manuals, etiquette and self-help books and health, beauty and fashion guides) and other detritus of popular culture, especially that concerni...more
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