I almost returned this book the library unread, having failed to open before I maxed out my renewals. But the day I brought it with me to return to thI almost returned this book the library unread, having failed to open before I maxed out my renewals. But the day I brought it with me to return to the library I decided to at least start reading it and I got really interested.
However, she's a straight white woman from a middle-class background, and it shows.
She's matter-of-fact about the existence of lesbian identity when talking about e.g. the sexual revolution, but in talking about how women are socialized to subsume their wants and needs to men, she uses hetero-assuming framing a lot. I recognize that the women of all sexual and romantic orientations exist in the same heternormative culture, but I expect that women who aren't interested in men in That Way have their appetites (de)formed somewhat differently than women who are. Not that I expected full investigative research from Knapp interviewing representative samples of all sorts of women, but I would have appreciate more awareness that queer women do exist in the world. (And trans women are completely invisible in her book.)
In the chapter about the media, she writes at length about how even Elle MacPherson doesn't look like the Elle Macpherson on the cover of Shape magazine due to makeup, lighting, etc. but she doesn't touch on the additional disconnect when it seems so much more impossible that one would look anything like Elle McPherson (i.e., when one has dark skin). There doesn't seem to be any racial awareness in her book.
I did like stuff like the note that she sees naked female bodies in the locker room at the gym but she sees so many more images of women's bodies in the media that the media images come to feel like the "normal" ones.
The chapter on mother-daughter relationships doesn't resonate with my personal experience, but I believe her that many women have the experience of watching their mothers either backburner their own desires (and be really frustrated by it) or be really ambitious and successful (and be really worn out by it) so either way they likely end up rejecting the model of their mothers.
When she was talking about ambitious successful mothers, I did feel a tinge of "you will be inherently exhausted by trying to Have It All" which didn't problematize Having It All (e.g., discussing tradeoffs, the double standards for fathers vs. mothers, societal expectations, etc.) but seemed instead to just imply that you shouldn't try to Have It All be ambitious.
She talks about Leslie Kinzel [whose first name I think is actually spelled "Lesley"], and while she does hedge some about how being fat is probably still inherently unhealthy (which I rolled my eyes at), I found really powerful her awareness that this 24-year-old woman was solid and powerful and confident and full of joy, whereas she at 24 was anorexic, tiny and grimacing and consumed by her obsession with eating as little as possible.
While at the beginning of my reading of this book, I wanted to jot down lots of pieces ... going back to do a writeup a few weeks later, I find that little of it has actually stuck with me (in part because so much of it didn't resonate with my own experiences though I recognize it as true for many women)....more