Audre Lorde is a poet, and this shows in her prose. The writing is effortlessly beautiful and compelling as she moves between accounts of her family aAudre Lorde is a poet, and this shows in her prose. The writing is effortlessly beautiful and compelling as she moves between accounts of her family and relationships, the sometimes mundane details of life in New York, and meditations on how to live life being gay, and a woman, and black, and a gay black woman. Nobody can tell me what it means (meant in the 1950s) to be a gay black woman in New York, except someone who lived that experience, and I am grateful that this talented woman recorded it so evocatively....more
This is a very current and fairly UK-focused survey of issues facing women at various stages of life and in various contexts. The writer has two teenaThis is a very current and fairly UK-focused survey of issues facing women at various stages of life and in various contexts. The writer has two teenage daughters, and this informs the angle she takes here, but the book is not at all limited to issues facing teenagers.
The narrowness of focus means it can be fairly comprehensive, although those reviewers who called this a "literature review" were on to something. There are a lot of statistics and a lot of summaries and quotations of the views of other writers and thinkers. However, Benn does put forward theories and propositions of her own, some of which were very interesting. She's also, unsurprisingly, rather left-wing, which comes very much to the fore in the final chapter, which "throws down gauntlets for the future".
It's difficult to know who this is really aimed at. At least half of the material related to issues I had already read or thought about in depth, so it became more like reading for pleasure than for edification. That said, I am keen to gain a greater understanding of feminist theory and history, and this filled in plenty of gaps. Plus it is always instructive to see views you instinctively agree with set out eloquently and convincingly. Perhaps the person who gave me this copy, a man successful in a man's world who wants to understand how life will be for his 3 year old daughter, is actually the perfect audience....more
Hard work at times, but completely worth it. With my feminist leanings, it might seem that this book was preaching to the choir, but I admit I went inHard work at times, but completely worth it. With my feminist leanings, it might seem that this book was preaching to the choir, but I admit I went into it thinking, essentially, men and women are different but society treats these differences unfairly and insensitively. My girlfriend has frequently grumbled at me making statements about differences between how men and women act.
Fine crushes any illusions that differences between the sexes might be hardwired. She meticulously deconstructs the work of the researchers and pop-science writers who make such claims, and makes an incredibly convincing case for society's role in not only encouraging a girl to play with dolls and a woman to prioritize the home over her career, but also to influence the objective performance of the sexes in gender-stereotypical subjects and fields. (Don't worry, she is not insensitive to how gender stereotypes can harm males too.) My mind was thoroughly blown when I read about how priming (not just in relation to gender) can affect the performance of individuals in controlled tests.
There's a lot of hard facts in here, and the description of trial after trial in some sections can be a little tiring. However, Fine is at times hilarious. The New Scientist review on the cover says 'droll'; I would say 'sarky'.
I'm glad this book was written and I'm glad I read it. In addition to the feminist focus, it is part manifesto, part positing a model for the reasonsI'm glad this book was written and I'm glad I read it. In addition to the feminist focus, it is part manifesto, part positing a model for the reasons behind transsexuality and how it can be addressed, part near memoir, and part a massive slamdown of people Serano disagrees with or feels offended by.
I found the book hugely thought provoking and, while I certainly didn't agree with everything she said, I came out with a lot of respect for her position and a need to read more widely. Serano writes very engagingly: a particular strength is her use of analogies that helped me to understand fundamental concepts I found it difficult or impossible to imagine (such as gender dissonance) and to support points I found myself inclined to disagree with.
I am sure the book has flaws, and my lack of knowledge of the subject means that she could be setting up all sorts of straw men I'm not aware of. In addition, she includes brief caveats at various points (for example, that the earlier feminist movements she criticizes set the stage for everything that came after, or that her account is only one view of many) but then proceeds to write so persuasively that it feels like her word is law. I'm very much looking forward to picking it apart at bookclub.
If you have an interest in people and society at all, but particularly feminism and transsexuality, I'd recommend giving it a try....more
This is not so much a history of the world in twelve maps as the stories of twelve maps and their places in history. The author's main premise is thatThis is not so much a history of the world in twelve maps as the stories of twelve maps and their places in history. The author's main premise is that maps are inherently subjective and are influenced by the culture that produces them and its motivations for that production.
The premise is elegantly explored through twelve chapters, each with a single word title describing the main influence on the map's production. Thus we see medieval mappae mundi that set out to describe the world with reference to biblical details ("Faith"), the assertion of a proud new dynasty in the Korean peninsula, overshadowed by its neighbour ("Empire"), an exploration of the mapmaking of the Dutch East India Company ("Money"), all the way up to Google Earth ("Information").
It turns out that the history of cartography is not simply a tale of filling in the gaps, occasionally spiced up with a complicated treatise on a new projection. It is a discipline that has varied hugely in why it is done, who it is done by, and who it is done for. The strength of this book is that it doesn't shy away from technical details and in depth discussion of cultural and political forces in play during a given period, and the author makes this completely accessible. There is human interest and a sweeping historial picture, but not enough to dilute the focus.
An excellent read. I like maps a lot, and this probably the best book on maps I have read....more