In this book, Eleanor Roosevelt outlines eleven actions that each person must take in order to lead a fulfilling life. They are as follows: 1. Learning...moreIn this book, Eleanor Roosevelt outlines eleven actions that each person must take in order to lead a fulfilling life. They are as follows: 1. Learning to Learn--This first key makes the others possible. A fulfilled person must be curious and must learn to use his or her mind as a tool to understand and influence the world. Roosevelt insists that beyond discipline and training, a sense that life is an adventure makes people not only willing but passionate to learn about themselves, their fellow human beings, and the world. Interests cultivated by the curious mind beget new interests, which beget new interests, and so on, until the interested person is the fulfilled person. 2. Fear, The Great Enemy--For a woman whose husband intoned, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," this key does not surprise the reader. "Fear has always seemed to me to be the worst stumbling block which anyone has to face," Roosevelt writes. "It is the great crippler." Roosevelt's suggestion for overcoming fear is self-discipline--once one has faced certain fears, the strength and confidence gained from those experiences foster the overcoming of new fears. On the flip side, not facing one's fears makes one weaker, and when one is weaker, one has a harder time facing other fears. "Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart. Don't be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren't paying any attention to you. It's your attention to yourself that is so stultifying." 3. The Uses of Time--As someone who never feels like I'm productive enough, I was especially interested in Roosevelt's ideas on the subject. One statement, credited to a deceased relative, sticks out: "We have all the time there is." Roosevelt solves the problem of the best way to use time in three ways: 1) achieving an inner calm that allows for one to function contentedly in a stressful environment, 2) concentrating on the task at hand (TAKE THAT MULTITASKING!!!), and 3) arranging the day so that certain tasks are completed at certain times, planning for everything that must be done, and remaining flexible enough to handle the unexpected. Roosevelt also stresses the importance of maintaining good health in order to facilitate the other methods. But these steps are secondary to having something to use one's time for. "The most unhappy people in the world are those who face the days without knowing what to do with their time. But if you have more projects than you have time for, you are not going to be an unhappy person." One must decide what one's life (i.e. time) is going to count for, and then make it count. 4. The Difficult Art of Maturity--Self-respect and self-knowledge as well as an understanding of one's limitations and the limitations of others are all crucial components of maturity. Another important factor is an awareness that as people, we are interdependent. Roosevelt stresses that teaching children as early as possible how little they can do alone is key to helping them become happy, productive adults. Being able to take and use criticism and evaluation are also indicators of maturity. At the top of the heap comes an awareness of one's own values. "To be mature you have to realize what you value most.... Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one's own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for." 5. Readjustment is Endless--Here is an interesting observation on Roosevelt's part: She states (correctly, I believe) that women have the advantage of being expected, to a greater extent than men, to make adjustments throughout their lives. The key to handling life is to adjust when necessary; happy people tend to be happy in spite of their circumstances, not because of them. 6. Learning to be Useful--"Happiness is not a goal, it's a by-product." One achieves fulfillment by having a sense of purpose. "Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive." Roosevelt touts the importance of volunteer work, pointing out that needs exist for all kinds of people to do all kinds of work. One should express one's appreciation for living on this earth by helping others, regardless of monetary rewards. 7. The Right to be an Individual--Roosevelt posits that in order to be fully human, one must assert one's individuality. Human nature is all about an innate drive to be oneself and to achieve self-actualization through various expressions of that self. "It is a brave thing to have courage to be an individual; it is also, perhaps, a lonely thing. But it is better than not being an individual, which is to be nobody at all." Roosevelt lauds what she calls social conformity, which is basically the kind of behavior that allows people to co-exist in society, while decrying conformity to "alien" standards in order to go with the proverbial flow and achieve a level of acceptance by denying one's true self. Roosevelt refers to the keeping up with the Joneses as "the real menaces of this country." (And, as we have seen in the years since she wrote this book in 1960, it's also a menace to our environment and the world.) Not only will one never reach the status of the Joneses, one will lose oneself in the effort. "You can get rid of your neighbors, but you cannot get rid of yourself, so you are the person to be satisfied." 8. How to get the Best out of People--Very little can be accomplished alone. A truly happy, fulfilled person will come to accept, learn from and use the strengths and weaknesses of others as a part of life. Roosevelt identifies two qualities one must have: one must be a good listener, and one must be able to empathize with others. People share more commonalities than they do differences; being able to see oneself as a member of the human race and learning to work with others in that race is crucial. 9. Facing Responsibility--One statement in this chapter jumped out at me more so than others: "I have often thought that so much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating and destructive effect upon society than the others." Passivity is a far graver and more insidious enemy in that it enables aggression, but it also gives people an excuse not to take responsibility. Is to abstain from building gas chambers the same as to fight for human rights? And at the same time, if the gas chambers are built, outfitted and used while one passively looks on, is one not responsible in some part for their existence? To be responsible, one must not only monitor one's behavior, but one must have the courage to speak out when others are doing wrong. But before any of that can happen, Roosevelt maintains that one must have the courage--and take the responsibility--to decide for oneself what is right and what is wrong. 10. How Everyone Can Take Part in Politics--Bad news. Voting is a minimum, according to Roosevelt. Not only must one vote, but one must be educated about whom to vote for and what their stance on issues means in terms of its implications for the future. Challenging the "If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas" argument, Roosevelt maintains that the only way to instill any sort of integrity into the dirty business of politics is to actively involve oneself in it, and, using integrity, reform it. 11. Learning to be a Public Servant--If one chooses to be a public servant, the challenge comes in understanding, first of all, what that means. A public servant must serve, first and foremost, and be empathetic to the needs of his (and Roosevelt sticks to this pronoun) constituents. At the same time, a good public servant must not rely on his position for his livelihood; only a public servant with some other means of income can truly make the best decisions. Public servants must also have an ear for the suggestions of others but not get so bogged down in public opinion that they never do anything worth the effort for fear of offending someone. A good read, though I would have preferred more concrete examples from Roosevelt's own life and fewer anecdotes about those in her acquaintance.(less)
Reading Against our Will is a little like watching a John Wayne movie. When one sees the familiar swagger of the all-American hero, the oddly familiar...moreReading Against our Will is a little like watching a John Wayne movie. When one sees the familiar swagger of the all-American hero, the oddly familiar, maybe even hackneyed, ring to it makes one ask, "Haven't we seen this before?" So, too, does Brownmiller's book feel like ideas that have been repeated frequently, especially to readers who have tastes similar to mine. But then, when reading Brownmiller's work (or watching Wayne's movies), I have to remember--this stuff is not hackneyed. I like to stay away from words like "groundbreaking," but Brownmiller's 1975 work, well, broke ground. As John Wayne became the protoype of the noble hero, Against Our Will (1975) set the standard for much feminist thinking about rape. Our society is still very much steeped in rape culture. The fact that we use the word "penetration" to describe even VOLUNTARY sex acts indicates an attitude that sex is a violation in and of itself. (Brownmiller herself and later feminists have taken issue to the phraseology, as I do.) But when, where and how did this rape culture start? Brownmiller digs down into the roots of rape and discusses it as the physical and psychological crime we now consider it to be. When reading Against Our Will, it is important to remember that Brownmiller, along with a handful of her contemporaries, caused us to begin thinking of rape as enlightened members of our culture have come to think of it now: as an act of violence on the bodily integrity of a full human being. Brownmiller suggests that the concept of the heterosexual couple with the male as protector of the female originated because of a female fear of rape. "Those of her own sex whom she might call to her aid were more often than not smaller and weaker than her male attackers....But among those creatures who were her predators, some might serve as her chosen protectors. Perhaps it was thus that the risky bargain was struck. Female fear of an open season of rape, and not a natural inclination toward monogamy, motherhood or love, was probably the single causative factor in the original subjugation of woman by man, the most important key to her historic dependence, her domestication by protective mating" (16). Because of this assymtetrical need for protection, woman came to be seen as less than man. If man were going to protect woman in a way that woman could not protect man or herself, woman would become man's property. And rape, in the eyes of the law, became a property crime. "Rape entered the law through the back door, as it were, as a property crime of man against man. Woman, of course, was viewed as the property" (18). The first major consideration in the legal view of rape was the rape of virgins, as to rape a virgin was to reduce her value in the marriage market and thus to cheat her father. Because fathers were not the only men who "suffered" property damage due to rape, the law was expanded to protect the interests of husbands as well, as their wives, though not virgin, were their property. Ancient Babylonian law and ancient Hebrew law differed in their punishment of rapists, but both had a curious habit in certain (and most) circumstances of punishing the victim as severely as the rapist. (Ancient Hebrew tradition also gave us the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. According to the story, Joseph, a respected slave in Egyptian leader Potiphar's house, refused the sexual advances of the Egyptian's wife, who then claimed to her husband that Joseph tried to rape her. To this day, some still consider accusations of rape as the revenge of a spurned female.) Brownmiller also discusses English common law, upon which most US common law is based. English common law originally followed strictures similar to that of ancient Hebrew law. Men who ravished virgins had the option of marrying that virgin to save himself from punishment. (The law viewed the raped woman as "consenting" to the union, though usually her option was either marrying her rapist or lifelong ignominy and lack of financial support, as her father would likely not want his sullied property returned.) The law also reflected class biases of the day: this obligatory marriage did legally apply to noblemen who raped common women, but for such a nobleman to be charged, let alone convicted and forced to marry a commoner, was almost unheard of. Still, establishing some sort of penalty for a rapist that did not automatically apply to the victim as well helped to acknowledge rape as a public crime rather than a privately-disputed property violation. Brownmiller also embarks on an in-depth discussion of rape in war. Rape in war is inevitable, and Brownmiller takes a strong stance on the phenomenon. "War provides men with the perfect psychologic backdrop to give vent to their contempt for women. The very maleness of the military--the brute power of weaponry exclusive to their hands, the spiritual bonding of men at arms, the manly discipline of orders given and orders obeyed, the simple logic of the hierarchical command--confirms for men what they long suspect, that women are peripheral, irrelevant to the world that counts, passive spectators to the action in the center ring" (32). Perhaps it is humankind's dark nature that makes us value taking life (as is done en masse in war and still mostly by men) over giving life (in birth, the exclusive domain of the female), but undervaluing the female is what causes rape in the first place and especially what aids rapists in times of war. Brownmiller discusses several conflicts, including both world wars, Vietnam, and the "rape of Bangladesh" in the early 1970s. In each conflict, rape was a key feature of soldiers' behavior, and Brownmiller dismisses the idea that a sexual hunger was the impetus for rape. In most wars, prostitution coexists with the military in a seemingly mutually-beneficial relationship. Sexual hunger can be sated easily enough, but rape has its own appeal. Not only is it free, but it give the rapist a sense of power that simply paying for sex or gaining free sex through a consensual union does not. When one comes to see the enemy as less than human (as one must in order to kill the enemy), sometimes a simple kill seems too merciful. Torture in the form of rape, prior to or instead of the kill, reinforces that sense of superiority in the "conquering" rapist and, ideally, reinforces the idea of subhuman-ness in the victim. Other highlights from the book include Brownmiller's discussion of date rapes (a term she coined) and how police view claimants of rape by an acquaintance as "unfounded." But institutions of culture and power serve not only to enable rapists to commit the crime but enable law enforcement to dismiss the crime outright. "Date rapes and rapes by men who have had prior relationships with their victims also contain elements of coercive authority that militates against decisive resistance. Here the 'authority' takes the form of expected behavior. In a dating situation an aggressor may press his advantage to the point where pleasantness quickly turns to unpleasantness and more than the woman bargained for, yet social propriety and the strictures of conventional female behavior that dictate politeness and femininity demand that the female gracefully endure, or wriggle away if she can, but a direct confrontation falls outside of the behavioral norms. These are the cases about which the police are wont to say, 'She changed her mind afterward'" (257). So, date rapists have culture on their sides which gives them carte blanche to proceed with unwelcome sexual behavior in the name of healthy male lusts. Date rape victims have culture doubly against them in that they are neither taught to fight back nor condoned for doing so, yet are blamed for the rape because their behavior "led him on." If the word "no" does not convey the message clearly enough, the palm-heel strike on the nose might, but neither are viable options to the female having the male date's advantage pressed. Allow me to interject at this point that I can see how our attitudes toward date rape have altered somewhat (there are still some holdouts in less civilized areas of the South). We now make more educated guesses than Brownmiller could about the number and nature of rapes that go unreported, and most women know that statistically, the stranger behind the bush is the least of one's worries. (I.e., the date "pressing his advantage" is a bigger culprit than the dark man hiding in the park or breaking into a stranger's house.) But even though we know who the culprit is more likely to be, we are not really any more prepared for the other half of the equation: fighting off the date, friend of a friend, party guest, family member or total stranger, and censuring his or her actions legally and culturally. Attendant to this argument is Brownmiller's discussion of the myths of rape, and she spells them out succinctly: 1. ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE RAPED. 2. NO WOMAN CAN BE RAPED AGAINST HER WILL. 3. SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT. 4. IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE RAPED, YOU MIGHT AS WELL RELAX AND ENJOY IT. (These are listed on p. 311.) Brownmiller expands upon each of these. For the first, Brownmiller states, "Because rape is an act that men do in the name of their masculinity, it is in their interest to believe that women also want rape done, in the name of femininity" (312). The first myth leads directly to the second: "The concept seems to imply at first hearing that if the will of a woman is strong, or if she is sufficiently agile, she can escape unscathed...but 'No woman can be raped against her will' is not intended to encourage women to do battle against an aggressor--rather, it slyly implies that there is no such thing as forcible rape" (312). The third myth, the popular short skirt defense, conveniently shifts the blame for the rape away from the rapist and onto the victim and of the three is the one that seems still to be with us as much in 2011 as it was in 1975. The final one adds insult to injury by reinforcing myth number one (you want it) and myth number two (you would resist if you really didn't) and throwing in a dose of inevitability and female powerlessness. Brownmiller finishes her discussion of rape by discussing how rape can be curtailed in the future. She promotes the idea of making rape solely a crime against one's bodily integrity, as an aggravated assault is, and bringing punishments for rape in line with those for that crime. Brownmiller further argues that spousal rape should be viewed as a crime (which it now is), with the reasoning, "Consent is better arrived at by husband and wife afresh each time, for if women are to be what we believe we are--equal partners--then intercourse must be construed as an act of mutual desire and not as a wifely 'duty,' enforced by the permissible threat of bodily harm or economic sanctions" (381). AMEN!! Brownmiller concludes the book in a way that makes me want to kiss her hand: she contests the shopworn advice given to women to protect themselves from rape. The old standbys of not being out alone, keeping car doors locked, wearing conservative clothing, and always being accompanied by a male serve to enable rapists, as the number of potential victims may decrease negligibly but the number of rapists remains the same. They also further victimize those who are victims of rape, because they open up numerous opportunities to blame the victim: Why were you out alone? What did you expect with that short skirt? Why didn't you and your girlfriends take a man with you to the bar? None of these conditions brings on a rape; the only condition that causes a rape is being in the presence of a rapist. The book has a few dated parts, but those parts are encouraging; the ones that still hold true after 35 years are often disheartening. A classic of second-wave feminist thought and required reading for anyone who considers him- or herself a feminist, I recommend it wholeheartedly.(less)
I actually hated this book. My dad bought it for me as a gift because of some of my ideas regarding feminism, and while...moreGarbage. Don't waste your time.
I actually hated this book. My dad bought it for me as a gift because of some of my ideas regarding feminism, and while I appreciated the thought, the book spat on feminism like, well, Jerry Falwell. It's not feminist at all; Bevere does not believe women have any real power to change things and can take little if any initiative to do so. The title alone set my teeth on edge: calling grown women "girls" disempowers them because it relegates them to the status of perpetual children, and children do not have power. When you actually open the book, it gets worse. It's the same old drivel you get whenever you read so-called "Christian" literature geared toward women: woman is designed for man's pleasure, woman should allow man to take the lead and be his "helpmeet," and Bevere's twist, a woman fights only when male resistance has been insufficient. My ideas are more in line with "a woman fights when she sees a fight worth fighting, regardless of male involvement" and "there is absolutely no reason a woman cannot defend herself and hers or will automatically lose a fight, physical or otherwise." (To his credit, I think my dad believed this was the kind of book "Fight like a Girl" was, and, indeed, at first it does seem that way.) Bevere talks about Deborah, one of my favorite characters from the Tanak'h, but seems to miss the point of the story--Deborah wasn't in back of the battle because women don't fight until last; she was in the back of the battle because she was a LEADER, calling the shots. There is also some idiotic tangent about gemstones and jewelry and how nearly all women like them. It's been a little while since I read the book, but for any woman who ever doubted that she was weaker than men or subject to their leadership by virtue of their maleness, this book serves to nauseate. (less)
When I read Succulent Wild Woman a little over two years ago, for some reason I liked it. Naturally, I bought another of SARK's books. Maybe between t...moreWhen I read Succulent Wild Woman a little over two years ago, for some reason I liked it. Naturally, I bought another of SARK's books. Maybe between the time I bought it in March 2008 I changed enough to stop appreciating SARK, but this book was, well, garbage. Just a collection of platitudes in colorful and occasionally illegible handwriting.(less)
This book picks up when Sacagawea joins the Lewis and Clark expedition, with only a little about her...moreSacagawea speaks...but doesn't have a lot to say.
This book picks up when Sacagawea joins the Lewis and Clark expedition, with only a little about her back story, and ends at the end of the expedition with only a little about the rest of her life. It's kind of a coffee table book, complete with glossy pages and lots of drawings and photos, and is something of a Cliff notes version of Undaunted Courage (Stephen Ambrose) and Sagajawea (Ann Lee Waldo).(less)
This book is set up primarily as a question and answer format set of interviews with women and girls involved in several different styles of martial a...moreThis book is set up primarily as a question and answer format set of interviews with women and girls involved in several different styles of martial arts. The different styles include Kendo, Jujitsu, Tai Chi Ch'uan and other hard and soft styles. I expected more of this book, to be honest. It was rather boring and took me a long time to get through for that reason. The Q&A format is a tricky one that can only successfully be pulled off in certain situations, and I don't think this situation is one of them. I wish I had another book about women and martial arts to recommend, but the closest I have is an excellent book I read back in Feb. 2009 called "Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Women's Self-Defense" by Martha McCaughey. As the title suggests, it's more about the nitty-gritty of being attacked and defending oneself than it is about martial arts.(less)
A good commentary on how aggressive male sexual behavior is excused with erroneous claims to a "caveman mystique," whereby acts such as infidelity, se...moreA good commentary on how aggressive male sexual behavior is excused with erroneous claims to a "caveman mystique," whereby acts such as infidelity, sexual harassment, ogling and rape can be excused as adaptive evolutionary behaviors designed to propagate the species. McCaughey does a good job of showing, first of all, that these behaviors are not necessarily adaptive as well as showing that scientific claims to evolution are steeped in a political, hetero-normative (and heterosexist) climate that makes impossible separating hard, objective science from cultural conditioning--and individual choice.(less)
When I got this book, I didn't realize it was intended for young adult readers. Typically, reading non-fiction geared toward teenagers is hard on the...moreWhen I got this book, I didn't realize it was intended for young adult readers. Typically, reading non-fiction geared toward teenagers is hard on the senses because of the, well, teen-speak that the authors at least think teenagers use. This book had a touch of that, but it was not excessive, and it had a lot of information on Title IX. Though Title IX was related to gender equality in all areas of education, it's best known for its requirements regarding sports programs at educational institutions. One highlight were a cute photo of three Congresswomen in the late 1960s posing outside the House pool (yeah, as in swimming) with a sign on the door saying "Members Only." The women had been shut out of the pool because "Members Only" apparently wasn't referring to members of Congress, but MALE members of Congress. The female members were turned away because the male ones apparently didn't want to don swimsuits during their workouts (ew!), and therefore the pool was single-sex. Eventually, the three, who included Patsy Minsk of Hawaii and Edith Green of Oregon, were allowed to use the pool in the early morning hours, when the other Representatives didn't want it. I wonder what hours Nancy Pelosi is required to use the pool...? Another important factoid that jumped out at me was that Billie Jean King had to work two jobs in college, even though she was one of the top-ranked tennis players in the nation even then, because scholarships for athletes didn't exist. BILLIE JEAN KING! Compare that to Venus and Serena Williams, who, if they're wise with their money, will never have to work again once they retire from tennis. (OK, so the Williams sisters probably don't make near what male athletes in the big 3 make, but they are doing better financially than BJK was around the same time in her life.) Like any good women's historical account, the book serves to show both far we have to go AND how far we've come. A quick, easy and informative read.(less)
\Women in the United States experience sexism and misogyny in all walks of life, and one of the primary environments for experiencing both is high sch...more\Women in the United States experience sexism and misogyny in all walks of life, and one of the primary environments for experiencing both is high school. With that in mind, Catherine Dee takes on the active, mercurial and brilliant mind of the teenage girl and presents “radical” ideas about gender equality that I guarantee you have rarely been presented to them outside of this book. The fact that she starts out explaining what a feminist is (and that it’s not a dirty word or a euphemism for man-hating) shows just how far she has to go as she addresses various aspects of girls’ personal lives, school lives and their places in society. The first section focuses on self-esteem, beauty facts and myths, friendship, home-life and personal safety. I approached this section with a little trepidation because I wasn’t sure how much more “you’re beautiful just the way you are” rhetoric, which is inevitably followed by a subtle suggestion to buy a product to make you more beautiful, I could take. Though the language throughout the book sounds a little affected, like an adult trying to mimic teenage language, Dee takes a much stronger stance on the importance of confidence, strength, caring and voice than your average teen magazine or health text book. The section on beauty not only turns a critical eye on the fake representations of beauty in the media, it also suggests ways girls can actively combat these issues, such as by protesting a beauty pageant. As Dee encourages girls to “live out loud” by cultivating interests and not being afraid to draw attention to themselves, she also points out ways to handle unwelcome attention, like sexual harassment and even assault. The second section focuses on school and laudably refutes a myth Barbie herself decided to perpetuate—that math is hard. Both math and the hard sciences, Dee asserts, are important for girls to study and excel in, as are sports, especially team sports. Dee addresses sexual harassment again in a school context in this section along with pointing out how pervasive, and conquerable, sexism is in the classroom. The third section discusses society in general and the place of the teenage girl in it in particular. Some more obvious culprits of gender inequality are addressed, including the sexism and outright misogyny in television, songs, movies and ads. A little further off these well-trodden paths are chapters on gender-neutral language and discrimination in the art world, where most of the artists are men and most of the nude subjects are women. Dee concludes her work by talking about the importance of having a career that truly expresses who you are and by offering some general tips for putting her ideas, and girls’ own, into action. One of the best parts about this book is the quotes by both famous women, like Maya Angelou, and not-so-famous women, particularly teen girls Dee has interviewed. I liked these particularly because in many cases, this book is the only one these girls are likely to read with this information in it—until the book encourages them to consume other media by women and for women. (My guess is Dee realizes that high school and “teen-oriented” media are much less likely to do it.) Another thing that really strengthens the book is that in each chapter Dee gives practical suggestions for putting her ideas into use. In her chapter on housework, for example, she suggests divvying up housework on a rotating basis so that everyone does all the chores equally or assigning a point value to each chore based on difficulty, with each family member having an equal number of points. And though I find the language in the book a little off-putting (and I acknowledge that it could be how teenagers talk as it’s been a while since I’ve been one), the only major critique I have is that the chapter on school-related sexual harassment is not nearly strong enough. One of the suggestions Dee makes is that a girl being harassed by another (presumably male) student is that she ask him to stop. That seems basic, but it sounds a little cowardly. High school is one of several places where a girl who acts in any way aggressive, like hitting a ball particularly well, is often labeled a “dyke,” as is a girl who refuses the advances of a boy who is interested in her. As such, it sounds like Dee wants girls to avoid this label if they can by starting out in a non-confrontational way. But she acknowledges that sexual harassment, unlike flirting, is not about sex but about power. Given this observation, the best advice to a girl experiencing sexual harassment, is a strong, brook-no-argument STATEMENT (not polite request) for the harassment to stop. If the harasser sees he has not achieved power because of a powerful act on the part of a girl, he is likely to back off. A request to quit, or a letter, if a girl is hesitant to confront a harasser in person(!), does not show a woman’s power; yelling in a harasser’s face is more likely to. Dee also presents “Real-Life Reactions” to three sexual harassment scenarios and, whether she intends to or not, perpetuates the myth that sexual harassment and assault come from mostly from strangers (seventy-eight percent of the time, they don’t) and that it is more acceptable to have a more aggressive reaction to a stranger than to a friend, boyfriend or acquaintance. In one scenario, where a girl is harassed by a man on the street who then begins to follow her, she confronts him face to face, “demanding” to know what he is doing. In the second scenario, however, a girl is pushed against a locker by her boyfriend who cups her breast in his hand while his friend looks on. Her reaction is to tell her boyfriend (later, so that the laddie doesn’t feel embarrassed in front of his buddies) that that made her “uncomfortable” and “asks” him not to do again. In the first scenario, a girl responded aggressively to a stranger who never actually touched her. In the second, a girl submitted to SEXUAL ASSAULT by her boyfriend and later made a polite request for him not to do it again. Hopefully I was not the only person reading the second scenario and wondering why the girl’s knee was not in the groin of her quite-recent ex-boyfriend. Dee recommends additional reading at the end of each chapter, including this one, and I hope the literature she recommends regarding sexual harassment is stronger than what she suggests. That said, I would pass this book on to teen girls and adults I thought might be interested—with the caveat that I have other reading to help them deal with sexual harassment. Dee’s work is a refreshing take on how to live. And I must raise my hat to an author who writes a work geared toward teen girl audiences that does not have that pervasive—and largely fictitious—male gaze dictating girls’ every move. (less)
An interesting collection of essays that discuss several aspects of both male and female sexuality as well as a need to redefine the concept of consen...moreAn interesting collection of essays that discuss several aspects of both male and female sexuality as well as a need to redefine the concept of consent. YMY insists that consent is not the absence of "no" but the presence of "yes," a loud, liberating, mutually pleasurable yes between couples of both sexes and all genders and sexual orientations.
1. Offensive Feminism: The Conservative Gender Norms that Perpetuate Rape Culture, and How Feminists Can Fight Back by Jill Filipovic. Nothing new in the discussion of how sex roles propagate rape culture, but one cannot repeat too often that reinforcing male dominance and female passivity through accepted gender norms just makes it that much easier for male rapists to dominate and female victims to submit passively. Filipovic also points out that the culture of fear surrounding rape serves to keep women more confined to the domestic sphere, as it limits women's movement about in public spaces, than women would otherwise choose to be without that ever-present fear.
2. Toward a Performance Model of Sex by Thomas Macaulay Miller. At last! Miller describes society's view of sex as a commodity with sex as a good that can be bought, sold, traded or stolen and women as the primary dealers in this commodity. But going beyond that, Miller suggests that sex be viewed like a dance or a music performance--who would want to try to dance or play music with someone who just stood there or danced/played reluctantly? What kind of performance would that be? If sex were viewed in the same way, enthusiastic consent would be the norm, and sex would be rightfully recognized as something that should be a performance between two people equally interested in its completion and excellence.
3. How do you Fuck a Fat Woman? by Kate Harding. A look at the way women who are considered overweight are treated after a rape. Apparently, "fat" women should consider rape a compliment--how else would they get sex?
4. An Old Enemy in a New Outfit: How Date Rape Became Gray Rape and Why it Matters by Lisa Jervis. Personally, I think Cosmopolitan owes American women an apology for making us think we are or should be their version of the "fun, fearless female." Cosmo's coining of "gray rape" as something that falls in between consent and common conceptions of sexual assault is yet another reason the magazine should put a pistol to its collective temple. "Gray rape" is the same ol' date rape, but this time in the Cosmo universe, and unfortunately in the real world too, it's the rape makes self-blame that much easier. Because those who experience sexual assault may also see themselves as strong, independent women, they don't want to see themselves as victims, and consequently create a concept of rape that's not really rape. In one go, they rename and continue to trivialize rape while punishing themselves and any other woman for stepping outside that passive role to be strong, independent women in the first place.
5. An Immodest Proposal by Heather Corinna. A suggestion that teenage girls pursue sexual fulfillment for their own pleasure--and that adult women do the same.
6. Hooking Up with Healthy Sexuality: The Lessons Boys Learn (and Don't Learn) About Sexuality, and Why a Sex-Positive Rape Prevention Paradigm Can Benefit Everyone Involved. I especially like the author's discussion (read: criticism) of the US approach to sex education as based on one group's moral perspective rather than on science (which it is).(less)