This book was okay, but it could have been about 100 pages shorter. It's about one woman's experience driving from NJ through parts of the continentalThis book was okay, but it could have been about 100 pages shorter. It's about one woman's experience driving from NJ through parts of the continental US/Canada/Alaska on her own. As well as dealing with the drive, she's also stopping to meet her birth parents and then spend time with the adoptive parents who raised her near the end of her trip. The family issues were interesting, and I wish that had been more of a focus.
Instead, it was a lot of "Wow this scenery is beautiful, aw this little town is dying, man I'm sick of people being surprised that I'm doing this trip alone, oh they're not as hard-core/badass/as much of a true biker as I am." Which is fine, but it gets really old after 300 pages.
It seemed ironic to me that a rich white woman with an Ivy league education would pretend to be such an outlaw. She had a "holier than thou" attitude when it came to anyone who was a true "wanderer" or "biker" as she saw it, and had an unnecessary contempt for those who stated they were on a religious mission (even though there were several instances where she was "pleasantly surprised" or thankful that those people didn't preach at her- possibly because she didn't start off telling them how many problems she had with their way of life as she apparently wanted to). I get it, she did something few people do, but let's not pretend that she isn't a privileged person....more
This book was good, but not as great as I had hopes for. I appreciate the focus on female nerds (a good answer to my rant about All American Nerd: TheThis book was good, but not as great as I had hopes for. I appreciate the focus on female nerds (a good answer to my rant about All American Nerd: The Story of My People) but still think it paints too small of a picture. I definitely consider myself a book nerd, but I don't fit into the "literary geek" category because I also read crappy, popular books. While I fit many stereotypes given in the book, there were also some 'frenemy' quirks that apply to me (I'm sorry, I don't care what this chick says I think Dane Cook is hilarious). I resent the idea that a person has to like only one section of something to be classified as a geek (I mean, the music section was basically just one genre). It's kind of pathetic that you can only be one kind of geek, or that you have to still fit a fairly small stereotype to be a type geek. I understand the premise of the book and think it's a step in the right direction, but it didn't fulfill my expectations....more
I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in less than 12 hours, so yay for having a day off work! It was great. The thing I liked best about this bookI absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in less than 12 hours, so yay for having a day off work! It was great. The thing I liked best about this book was that it wasn't "preachy" about feminism in any way. There were times it looked like it could go that way, but IMO the author was very good about highlighting both sides of an issue. If she didn't support something, she mentioned asking other parents why they allowed/supported that something. She may not always have agreed with their response, but for the most part I felt like she presented it respectfully. And she admitted that in several cases she didn't know the right choice, and admitted to acting hypocritically at some points (giving in & buying her daughter the princess Barbie for instance, after she originally said no and made her daughter cry). So this book wasn't a black and white "This is right, this is wrong" situation, it didn't make clear cut "this will screw your daughter up" statements. It was more of an exploration of the spectrum, including the gray areas, and looking at the possible ways the media & marketing & general treatment of young girls can affect them as people, both now & in the future as they grow up. There's so much I want to comment on, so I'm going to just start pulling quotes from the book. I marked a TON of pages, so this could be a long one y'all.
-She mentions a 2006 survey where school-aged girls reported feeling a "paralyzing pressure to be "perfect"":
Rather than living the dream, then, those girls were straddling a contradiction: struggling to fulfill all the new expectations we have of them without letting go of the old ones. ...they now feel that they must not only "have it all" but be it all: Cinderella and Supergirl. Aggressive and agreeable. Smart and stunning.
I found this to be very true. It's not enough that a girl is intelligent if she's not (today's society version of) pretty- she's then (often, not all but often) considered as undersirable romatically. So in order to be attractive to a potential partner, she also has to be physically alluring and then she'll be considered the "whole package." It definitely can be stressful, in my personal experience, to feel like if you excel in one area (ie school or sports or what have you) that it's not enough if you aren't also the stereotypical "girly girl." As Susan Douglas is quoted:
We can excel in school, play sports, go to college, aspire to- and get- jobs previously reserved for men, be working mothers, and so forth. But in exchange we must obsess about our faces, weight, breast size, clothing brands, decorating, perfectly calibrated child-rearing; about pleasing men and being envied by other women.
-Much time is spent examining the Disney Princess products & general theme. She also visits the American Girl store, which would seem like the antithesis of the Princess. And while she isn't particularly fond of either, she does realize why some (most, in my personal experience) accept and even encourage these brands:
It is a peculiar inversion: the simplicity of American Girl is expensive, while the finery of Princess comes cheap. In the end, though, the appeal to parents is the same: both lines tacitly promise to keep girls young and "safe" from sexualization.
So while these brands may be, on one had, too expensive to be reasonable and on the other, too limiting...at the end of the day they feel safer than (very few) other options that are out there.
-There is an entire chapter dedicated to how just about damn near everything marketed for girls is pink. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of pink. I do like it, occasionally, but it seems that if you wear it you are proclaiming you are ultra-feminine...and I'm not. So it feels almost like lying if I wear it. She examines the marketing purpose of creating such a division, and also gives some background on how things were a hundred years ago:
...in the era before Maytag, all babies wore white as a practical matter, since the only way of getting clothes clean was to boil them. What's more, both boys and girls wore what was thought of as gender-neutral dresses. When nursery colors were introduced, pink was actually considered the more masculine hue, a pastel version of red, which was associated with strength. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy, and faithfulness, symbolized femininity.
But why does color even matter? Why is it gender-specific at all? It's suggested here that again, it's all a marketing purpose- so you have to buy two. Think about it- you have a daughter. You spoil her with everything that is girly...so therefore sparkly & pink. Then you have a son. Even if he's okay with using a pink baseball glove...the kids on the playground are probably going to clue him in that that's not the social norm by, say, tormenting him (either physically or verbally). This makes everyone upset, so you go buy him a brown "boy" glove.
-She also visits a children's beauty pageant- thing Toddlers and Tiaras (no, really- one of the families she spoke with was on the show). One of the main families she talked with had a disabled son in addition to their pageant daughter, and this was one of the reasons they began pageanting in the first place. The parents felt so guilty for having to focus so much time & energy on their son that they wanted to make up for by supporting their daughter in pageants- after all, you get told you're super special (if you win) and a tiara, just like a...say it with me...princess!
And isn't that, at ist core, what the princess fantasy is about for all of us? "Princess" is how we tell little girls that they are special, precious. "Princess" is how we express our aspirations, hopes, and dreams for them. "Princess" is the wish that we could protect them from pain, that they would never know sorrow, that they will live happily ever after ensconced in lace and innocence.
It's a sweet idea, and it's completely understandable why this appeals to both parents and children. But the thing people seem to want to forget is that it's just not logical. You can't protect them forever. They do grow up and they make mistakes and they do get hurt. The Princess fantasy might make for some nice memories and fuzzy feelings as a kid, but what if it's leading to life screwing them that much harder later?
-Like I mentioned in my first paragraph, though, this book did look at other things besides the stereotypical girly labels like Princess and Barbie...and she found issues there. Even in children's books written specifically to shy away from stereotypes, there is a resounding attitude of "anti-boy" in these supposedly "pro-girl" books. This is a problem I have long had with "feminism" and why I usually hesitate to read any books like this. Orenstein asks if this is really a better lesson to be teaching girls:
Step out of line, and you end up solo or, worse, sailing crazily over a cliff to your doom.
I have never understood why part of being an "empowered woman" meant shunning men...glad I'm finally hearing someone else ask that question as well.
-She also touched on the appeal of Twilight which, although embraced by women of all ages, was actually written for young adults (so ie teens). It has been critiqued for many reasons, part of it being that the main relationship between Bella & Edward is really dependent and (supposedly) mirrors abusive relationships. Bella lives solely for Edward, and goes into zombie mood when he leaves (sorry for that spoiler if you haven't read it :p). But PO nails a big part of the appeal- Bella isn't special. She isn't obsessed with her looks (even though Edward thinks she's beautiful & says others do to, she doesn't feel that way), she isn't at the top of the class, she doesn't have an awesome hobby, she doesn't play sports- she's completely average. While envying the beauty and specialness shouldn't be the main focus in life, it is a part of life for girls especially. And to finally have a character who isn't a princess or anything else special is a relief- especially when she still manages to snag the most want-able guy in town. PO also suggests that the fact that Bella & Edward don't have sex (until marriage) is a a welcome relief in a world that often screams SEX SEX SEX.
-There was also a section about young actresses/singers that I really enjoyed. She looked at all the recent situations of these beautiful, innocent young girls and their transformations into crazy whores- Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, etc. PO suggests it is in fact the we (as in society) do place so much value on proving the innocence (speaking sexually) of these girls that once they grow up (which they all will) and begin to try to deal with their own sexuality that we feel betrayed and brand them as slutty. And being sexy or even having sex isn't neccesarily slutty. I think a big part of it is that parents freak out when stars grow up because it's a reminder that their own children are growing up. Hopefully not as fast as those in the limelight, but still. Honestly the outfits, etc that most of these stars are judged on aren't too much more risque than what I've seen people their age where here in the "normal" world. The difference is that these girls don't have their pictures taken and published for the entire world to judge over coffee.
-You can't deny it:
Even as I wish it were otherwise, even as I fight for it to be otherwise- I, too, know in my heart that how girls look does make a difference in how the world percieves them, and the more progress they make in other areas, the more that seems to be true.
The phases of our lives have become strangely blurred, as girls try to look like adult women and adult omen primp and preen and work out like crazy in order to look like girls.
-Comparison of the New Year's resolutions of a girl at the end of the nineteenth century to NYR's of a girl at the end of the twentieth century.
19th: Resolved: to think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversations and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.
20th: I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can...I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.
-The dreaded "fat" feeling...
Although my body and I have reached if not peace, at least a state of adente, "fat" remains how I experience anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment. I feel "fat" if I can't master a new task at work. I feel "fat" if I can't please those I love. "Fat" is how I blame myself for my failures. "Fat" is how I express my anxieties. A psychologist once told me, "Fat is not a feeling." If only it were that simple.
-Catherine Steiner-Adair's opinion on telling girls they are beautiful (she is the director of eating disorders education and prevention at the Klarman Eating Disorders Center in Mass.); I found it interesting.
""You're beautiful" is not something you want to say over and over to your daughter, because it's not something you want her to think is so important. That said,...there are times when it is important to say it: when she's messy or sweaty, when she's not dressed up, so that she gets a sense that there is something naturally beautiful about her as a person. And it's also important to connect beauty and love. To say 'I love you so much. Everything about you is beautiful to me- you are beautiful to me.' That way you're not just objectifying her body."
-When Hilary Clinton was in the running for President, I often felt like she wasn't treated fairly. There was so much emphasis on the fact that she was a woman that it was ridiculous. And while everyone may say that Obama's race was a factor...I argue that there were just as many sexist jokes as there were racist ones. The part that killed me was that even in forums Hillary got questions that would never have been asked of a male canidate- for instance the "Pearls or diamonds?" preference question. WTF does that have to do with anything.
I had often wondered whether Clinton was a symbol of how far we'd come as women or how far we had to go.
And to go along with that,
Yet though we tell little girls "You can be anything you want to be," we know, from life experience, that that is still not quite true. At least not without a price.
And yet another esample...that basically describes me to a tee-
This is the kind of thing all the books about raising smart, strong girls fail to mention. Frequently, after I have given a lecture on the topic myself, someone has commented, "My daughter does speak up and stand up for herself, and she doesn't wear trampy clothes or caked on makeup. And do you know what she gets called? A bitch.
Again, it's sailing off the cliff...
-I've been searching for this myself...
an authentic, unconflicted balance of feminism and femininity, one that will sustain rather than constrain them.
-A perspective of the online world and how teens (although sadly some adults too) end up treating their identity from a researcher at Children's Digital Media Center: I sadly have to agree, and have thought about this more each time I wonder how people gain tons of followers on blogger/tumblr/etc.
The self, Manago said, becomes a brand, something to be marketed to others rather than developed from within. Instead of intimates with whom you interact for the sake of exchange, friends become your consumers, an audience for whom you perform.
-Acknowledging the hypocrisy of it all:
Perhaps that high-wire act, as much as anything, reveals the lie of girls' popular culture: if the sexualization and attention to appearance truly "empowered" girls, they would emerge from childhood with more freedom and control over their sexuality. Instead, they seem to have less: they have learned that sexiness confers power- unless you use it (or are perceived as using it). The fastest way to take a girl down remains, as ever, to attack her looks or sexual behavior.
How many times have we as females seen, felt, or- let's be honest- dealt this kind of judgement and hurt?
-A good basic principal to round it all out:
The point...is not so much to raise children who are cynical about the media as ones who are skeptical.
This is something that I hope I can portray to my children once I have them. Hell, it's something I am still trying to live myself. ...more
I bought this book a few months ago because I am an Army Veteran Wife and searching for a way to still recognize our ties to the military. I thought tI bought this book a few months ago because I am an Army Veteran Wife and searching for a way to still recognize our ties to the military. I thought the book would be about the struggles that Army Wives go through, but it was more of a poorly written auto-biography. The author went into great detail to remember dates, names, and decorations. But the heart of the book was just missing IMO. I was expecting to read about the feelings and emotions that go along with the Army lifestyle. Instead I got a very black & white outline of the major stops of one woman's life as an Army Wife. There was no true plot, no climax or even conclusion. It was just "Okay this is what we did and when." Too dry and not well written, plus horrible grammar/syntax mistakes that made it really hard for me to focus on story. Overall I don't really recommend this book, it kind of felt like a big waste of time....more
**spoiler alert** Stealing Athena was interesting, but not the best I have ever read. I have to admit, I knew nothing about the Elgin marbles or the c**spoiler alert** Stealing Athena was interesting, but not the best I have ever read. I have to admit, I knew nothing about the Elgin marbles or the controversy that surrounded them. If I was more aware of the historical facts behind the plot then I may have enjoyed it more.
The fact that it was told from two different viewpoints, one as the Greek treasures were being created through Aspasia and then as they were being destroyed/saved by Mary, was a good call in my opinion. It was fascinating to see the different viewpoints and eerie to be reminded of how closely our lives can be connected to people we have never met.
The writing seemed to detriorate towards the end, but that could have been my impression because I became so annoyed with the storyline. I realize that women were once thought of as second class (or lower) citizens and were dependent on men for their life (both literally and figuratively). But as a woman in the 21st century it enrages me to think of it, and to read it. So it was incredibly difficult for me to finish the book and read about Mary's impending doom because of her bastard husband. Aspasia was easier to deal with. Probably because she made out okay, but I completely understand her feelings of annoyance/uncertainty/displeasure over the fact that it was due to her male champions rather than herself....more
I should honestly probably wait and write a review after I've had more time to process what I just took in.
The book is told through the eyes of two woI should honestly probably wait and write a review after I've had more time to process what I just took in.
The book is told through the eyes of two women. One is married to a doctor, one is the mother of that doctor's patient. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that the doctor strikes something up with the mother.
The book promotes a lot of questions: about exactly what constitutes cheating, is there ever an acceptable reason, does it matter how the spouse finds out, can you ever move past it...many very difficult and upsetting aspects of an unfortunate situation.
For the most part, I was able to relate to the characters. Or, if I couldn't relate to them within myself, I knew someone like them. Cheating is not the only fleshy topic in this story, as it also touches quite well on aspects of motherhood, the sisterhood of women (if this does in fact exist), family and how crazy that organization is, and the materialistic & social pressures so often placed on/accepted by women.
I am not going to say that I enjoyed this book, because the topic makes me uncomfortable (I don't see how someone who has voluntarily stood in front of their family, friends, and God and taken vows which pledged them to another person can think of those vows being broken pleasurably). It is difficult and messy and unfortunate. But Giffin took this messy topic on head first, and for that I applaud her. This story showed the different "shades of gray" so to speak.
I personally related much more to the wife, whether because I am one myself or because Giffin chose to make her portion of the story be told in first person. The patient's mother was understandable at first but eventually became a stereotype and quite annoying. The absence of the man's perspective seemed to symbolize the fact that ultimately, each one of us is responsible for our lives and actions. Those we just to include make choices that affect us, but at the end of every day we make our own choices....more
When I first picked this book up, I already has some misgivings. While I am definitely a girl, I’m not a very good one. I don’t fit in with the stereoWhen I first picked this book up, I already has some misgivings. While I am definitely a girl, I’m not a very good one. I don’t fit in with the stereotypical primps who spend hours on their hair, makeup, and clothes. But, I’m not exactly a butch-y, either. I’m just kind of plain, don’t really fit in to any specific stereotypes. So why did I choose to read a book that’s solely about women overcoming stereotypes? Because I am interested in other people’s experience…and I think I probably hoped that there would be something in there I could relate to, something that made me normal in my freakish-ness.
After the first few short stories, I was beginning to regret my choice. It was largely based on women who belonged to minority (in the US) racial or religious groups. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that those groups, and especially the women within them, have many struggles that I don’t, as a white Christian. However…I can’t relate to those struggles. And if I ever did, I’m pretty sure I would get yelled at for faking (maybe this is just my Southern background, but in my experience white people, especially white Christians, don’t have much room to complain). So that was a little harder to really connect too.
But after a while there were more issues about weight (not always tied to ethnicity), tattoos, etc. More “universal” issues, at least to me. Not that I could relate to all the stories, but I felt like there was at least the possibility, KWIM?
The story that really made the book worth reading for me was one of the last ones. It talked about feminism, and how the feminists of today are facing different struggles than the feminists of the past. I have always had a problem referring to myself as a feminist. I know too many people who claim that label, then turn around to spew hateful words about men. I haven’t ever understood that logic. “You make me feel bad about myself, so I’m going to trash you.” To me, that is not equality, or even maturity. I have huge problems with generalizations, however, and that’s really something for my personal blog more than here, so I’ll get off my soap box.
Anyway, the story by Amelia (Amy) Richards called Body Image: Thrid Wave Feminism’s Issue? was the one I enjoyed the most. In it she mentions the different things that feminism has fought for over the past, and how different “feminists” are today- both from their predecessors and from each other. She speaks of people like me, who don’t identify as a feminist but still care about similar issues. She also talks about how being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t get body conscious, or have doubts and insecurities.
I appreciate this point of few because I feel that too often the focus of feminism is on overcoming insecurities or blocking out the part of the world that causes them. And to me, that is very harmful to those women who want to be part of the feminist movement but feel like they aren’t good enough. Like any cause, if you push too hard in one direction you can turn more people away than you can bring in....more