If you eschew Target to make your own clothes, buy from your local grocery & prefer Bust to Cosmo, woul...moreMy review is up at my blog.
A snippet thou:
If you eschew Target to make your own clothes, buy from your local grocery & prefer Bust to Cosmo, would you take $2,000 from Ford to help spread the word about their new electric car? That's the main premise to Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity by Anne Elizabeth Moore, but this is not just a book for the DIY/punk crowds. By giving us case studies on how easily some fairly indy people sell out, including the author, it forces those of us, like me, who don't claim an indy or DIY label to consider "How much is my work worth?", "When was the last time I sold out?" and "Do I even care?"(less)
This is an amazing book. Everyone in the pro-choice community should read this. If you're open-minded enough, those who are against abortion should al...moreThis is an amazing book. Everyone in the pro-choice community should read this. If you're open-minded enough, those who are against abortion should also read this book to gain an insight into what the radical anti-abortion forces are doing to the lives of providers. My full review is on my site.(less)
I like to call myself a feminist mom blogger, but after reading Feminist Mothering I find myself questioning that label. Mostly I find myself question...moreI like to call myself a feminist mom blogger, but after reading Feminist Mothering I find myself questioning that label. Mostly I find myself questioning how I see feminist mothering and what that means to me. If asked to give a definition of feminist mothering before reading this text, I would have told you that it was about raising a feminist child, empowering that child and helping them rise above or thru the sexist ways of the world. Or something like that. Yes, it would have included being a good role model, but this text has helped me realize that feminist mothering is much more or should be much more than that.
This is a text book not a feminist Dr. Spock or guide to feminist mothering, rather it is a collection of fifteen thoughts on what is feminist mothering, how can it be done, and what does that mean for the world. It is moving, thought-provoking and a must read for any mother and any woman. It is empowering for both the woman and child, if not more for the woman. O'Reilly offers this definition in the introduction: "Feminist mothering functions as a counterpratice that seeks to challenge and change the many ways that patriarchal motherhood is oppressive to women (p 10)."
Feminist mothering is much more than raising empowered daughters or thoughtful son. It is about breaking down patriarchy thru the way we raise children. It is more than making sure our daughters know that clothes come in something other than pink, it is showing her that being a woman can be a strength in this sexist society.
**This is an excerpt from my longer review on my blog**(less)
I prefer to not think of myself as someone with chronic disease. Since at least age 7 I've been on some sort of allergy pill for hayfever. Sneezine, r...moreI prefer to not think of myself as someone with chronic disease. Since at least age 7 I've been on some sort of allergy pill for hayfever. Sneezine, runny nose, itchy eyes & occasional bloody noces were just life not a disease. But after having gestational diabetes and watching my mother die so young, I began reflecting on her own journey of chronic disease. I was barely in high school when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis - me about 13, her 31. I'm older than that already...and I can feel it. I've forced myself to think of people with chronic disease as someone other than me out of fear. Fear that I won't be able to live my life the way I want.
And that's just where Dancing at the River's Edge fits into my life, perhaps into yours. Alida has lived a full life, not the life one aspires to with her many trips to the hospital, but a life rich enough to be proud of. At the same time, Dancing also gives us a peek into our doctor's head. Alida's long-time doctor, Dr. Lockshin, takes his turn in telling his side of the story - both as Alida's provider, but also as a doctor who knows that most of his patients will never recover or get well. Kids don't grow up wishing to be doctors of people they can't cure.
In the end, Dancing is a book of hope. Hope that despite the pills, the IVs, the hours spent on that damn paper-lined table that we will still have full and rich lives. That we are still owed love and respect. That our doctors are struggling with us as well. This fact may scare some, but I am actually comforted by this tidbit. It flattens the playing field. It makes me think that perhaps some of us are partners in healing, not just receivers of wisdom in the form of a pill.
**excerpted from my full review on my blog. (less)
Normally the books I get pitches for are new and about to come out. Today I present you with a book that is now ten years old, but is better than most...moreNormally the books I get pitches for are new and about to come out. Today I present you with a book that is now ten years old, but is better than most memoirs at your local big box bookstore.
Eat First - You Don't Know What They'll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family & Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes is actually more of a family memoir than a personal memoir. Most notably, Sonia is one the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW). As a small child, she fled Nazi Germany with her parents and older brother and settled in New York. We not only learn the trials of growing up in a new culture, but also the back story of her parents' marriage, which may explain why Sonia has such a hard time with her own relationships.
When I meet "famous" people, I try to remember that they are just human beings like me. They just did extraordinary things or perhaps just in the right place at the right time. While I may fawn over someone like Sonia, it's comforting to know her human side. But she certainly did some extraordinary things!
That said, the memoir jumps around time. One page you are reading about someone's death and the next chapter opens with a story about that person. There are a lot of very short stories, more like anecdotes about various people in her life. So while I felt the structure was not of the usual memoir, it read nicely. It does start off a bit slow with her parents' background, but once I realized how central they are to her life and thus the entire memoir it was an easier read for me. I can be quite an impatient reader.
This book is part women's history, part Jewish history, part memoir and part a study in family relationships.
It's a must read for those interested in the origins of the largest feminist group in the USA as well as a simple story of a little Jewish girl who moves to the USA and grows up to be quite the giant slayer.(less)
When I was pregnant I dreamed about having a daughter. And I kinda freaked. How could I possibly raise a strong women-child in this body obsessed worl...moreWhen I was pregnant I dreamed about having a daughter. And I kinda freaked. How could I possibly raise a strong women-child in this body obsessed world when most days I loathe my body? How long could I fake it so she doesn't pick up on my body hate? Well the Goddess did send me a woman-child who not only looks JUST like me but her favorite thing to do with me is to squeeze my belly fat. OK she likes to do that with everyone, but she also adds in "Mommy's the squishiest!"
You'd Be So Pretty If...Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies - Even When We Don't Love Our Own by Dara Chadwick tackles just this issue. This was a painful book to read but I loved it.
Chadwick grounds her book in exploring how women learn to criticize our bodies from media, but especially from our own moms. Chadwick's mom had a saying, "If you think you're fat, you probably are." By the end of the book Chadwick reinterprets that saying to mean that we are in control of how we feel about our body.
The journey thou is hard, but one that I believe all moms of daughters should take. There's a chapter in there for dads and brothers as well. Chadwick starts us off with the idea that as moms we create a "body image blueprint" for our grrls. "As mothers, how we feel about and relate to our own bodies - and the conscious or unconscious expression of that relationship - creates a "body image blueprint" for our daughters." It's pretty obvious once we start to think about it, isn't it? Stop and think about what you learned about your body from your mom.
And I love that Chadwick included "the talk" in her book. She links our developing bodies to our sexuality or perceived sexuality because grrls bodies are going thru puberty, evolving to our eventual woman form and with that adding weight.
I can't say enough how I hope that every mom out there reads this book. You might even find a way to love your body more, forgive your mom for how she programmed you or just know that you really are impacting your daughter with jokes about your body. Chadwick also gives you some good points on how to talk to the men in your lives (Dads & brothers) on how their boy behavior is not going over as "just a joke" to your 13-year-old daughter and to stop.(less)
First off, when you see the cover of the book you'll notice that this book is part of the Seal Press Studies series. But DO NOT FREAK OUT! While this...moreFirst off, when you see the cover of the book you'll notice that this book is part of the Seal Press Studies series. But DO NOT FREAK OUT! While this book can easily be in a Gender & Women's Studies course syllabus, I also believe this is an excellent book for anyone to pick up in order to know more about how men have fit into the feminist movement.
What's that? You don't think that men have been a part of the feminist movement? Oh how mistaken you are! But it's not your fault that you believe that, first of all, our history classes don't teach women's history and when we take it upon ourselves we do focus on the accomplishments of kick ass women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Dolores Huerta. In fact men have been supportive of the movement all along, not as many as we would want, but that's where Tarrant really gets into the question of men & feminism.
Tarrant goes thru the history of the (mostly American) women's movement and reveals the men behind the amazing women, but also reveals some of their contradictions including how their public voice did not match their private lives or how men used motherhood as a way to push for women's rights.
But I felt that the gem of this book was how Tarrant wrestled with trans and gay issues within the context of feminism and masculinity. She showed us how the fear of being labeled a sissy keeps even the most feminist of men silent thus complacent in continuing our sexist and homophobic society. She walks us thru how ignoring or being ignorant of trans-issues keeps us focused on the false binary of boy-girl, masculine-feminine and thus keeping all of us in gendered boxes. As close friends know, I believe my feminism can connect almost any issue and Tarrant does a brilliant job at showing us how we must pay attention to the plight of boys and men under patriarchy in order to bring out a more just world. I wish I had had this book a few years ago when I was trying to create a men's issues committee for a feminist org I use to work with. I was shot down loudly and quickly.
Tarrant also has a great chapter on male privilege. It's an easy read in terms of vocabulary, althou it might be hard for anyone to totally grasp. Essentially Tarrant says "Great, you're a great guy. You might love a feminist woman, never hit her and even support her work. But unless you are taking progressive steps to call out others on their sexism there's still work to be done." It's not finger-pointing or male-bashing at all. Rather it's a straight forward call to action for all the "I'm not a feminist but..." men in our lives who really need to walk all that talk.
This would be an excellent present for a feminist dad/husband in training. It's 150 pages of the feminist manliness. If you're a nrrd like me, it's great summer reading too.(less)
Jeremy Adam Smith does a good job at laying out the path society took to get to where more dads are staying home with more and more moms leave in the...moreJeremy Adam Smith does a good job at laying out the path society took to get to where more dads are staying home with more and more moms leave in the morning for the office in "The Daddy Shift".
A collision of feminist wins (job discrimination protections, Title IX) and a change in economics (male-dominated jobs outsourced overseas) has lead to a moment where it appears that working women are on the uptick and working men on a downward slide. This has lead to the rise of bread-winning women and this had given men the economic ability to choose work or caregiving full-time.
The families Smith profiles are diverse by age, race/ethnicity, politics and class. They answer the question of why with simplicity. Why would a man give up his work to stay at home? Why would a woman choose work over her child(ren)? Oddly Smith somehow fails to profile a two-dad family until the conclusion and it comes off as an after thought. Gay male households often have a higher family income and thus may be more prone to having a stay at home dad.
Two main ideas stuck out that may provide key to this revolution (I disagree with Smith who thinks of the Daddy Shift as an evolution): 1) Redefining fatherhood as providing for children's emotional well-being and/or breaking any aspect of financial support off of the definition (A paid job does not define fatherhood - How you father does) and 2) Redefining the providing aspect of motherhood to include paid work. The diversity in class stories provide evidence that working moms are not working for the modern equivalent of pin money - tennis lessons or a bigger house. Rather she loves her work, is often being paid more and bringing home better benefits for the family's survival. Makes you wonder what the family would look like if we had universal healthcare that wasn't tied to employment.
Back to that revolution: Ironically Smith says that parenting isn't the same as activism. I know a long list of moms who would say otherwise. I believe that is because many women do stop and consider the things that come with motherhood that Smith admits he didn't - the cost of living, cost of child care, impact on our careers, etc.
I was put off by the gender stereotypes presented especially the mom is more cautious and the dad lets kids explore tenor. Not just because they are stereotypes, but because it's the exact opposite in my family. I also got the sense that Smith presented stay-at-home-dads as having made an economic sacrifice (as it is) and contrasted it with stay-at-home-moms view that a certain level of luxury is expected:
"My wife doesn't want to work, but she wants a nanny two days a week and she wants to be able to buy clothes. She's depending on me to be the provider, and so are the kids." - A chemical engineer dad who spends two hours a day with his children.
There was a clear distinction of how different classes viewed child care. It's hard for me to wrap my head around it as we had a great experience with child care for our daughter. She started at 4 months in full day child care and only two times ever cried as I left her. But as Smith points out, those of us who can afford to pay for top of the line care get great care. Lower class parents get to choose from lower-level care or staying at home. So yes, it does make more sense that there are more stay-at-home parents who start out as working class/low-income.
As I did put my daughter in child care it was also hard to hear story after story of parents who say, "I couldn't see myself letting someone else raise my child," or "After all we went through with adoption, why would I hand her over to someone else?" I understand logically, but it's still hard.
"The Daddy Shift" is a wonderful peek into an emerging new world of fatherhood where men of all sorts of backgrounds decide that they will be the one to stay home and raise the kids. And as the subtitle says, it is also a peek into shared parenting.(less)
Marilyn French, acclaimed author of "The Women's Room" died on May 2, 2009 months before the release of her last novel, "The Love Children." In some w...moreMarilyn French, acclaimed author of "The Women's Room" died on May 2, 2009 months before the release of her last novel, "The Love Children." In some ways it is poetic that this is her last novel. From what I have heard from women whose lives were touched by "The Women's Room," this last novel is a good capstone on French's legacy. The novel revolves around the life of Jess Leighton, a teen whose life epitomizes the changes brought about by the anti-war, feminist and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Part of me didn't like this novel at all. I felt the conclusion was too weak and sad. Yet after stewing about the novel for a few weeks, I think it may be one of the most honest ways to answer the question, "What did happen to all the former hippies and flower children? How did all those changes impact the youth and their life decisions?" The answer just might be, it wasn't pretty.
As a Gen Xer, whose own generation is blazing our own paths, and peeking over my shoulder to the generations behind me, I see it all too clear now. The generation of "The Love Children" broke with "tradition" so cleanly that we can never go back and in the process we lost any roadmap to life. Yes, we still have traditionalists who long for those glory days, but we all know that we won't go back. We have eaten from the proverbial apple.
Jess' struggles and challenges work to demystify that era. Having your mother embrace the feminist within her can be daunting to a teen, especially when she must face the asshatery of her father when he decides to take out his frustration on you thru verbal abuse. Entering college is head spinning enough but add to that the polarizing politics that including being anti-war to radical lesbianism and you have one confused liberal young woman. Now here is where I thought that things got to be too much like a caricature, but I put my feminist historian's hat on and thought, you know what? Things were crazy messed up back then. The government was doing an excellent job at infiltrating organizations, even if not especially campus organizations, which only raised the suspicions of leaders towards people who looked like they might be moles. After Jess drops out of school and finds herself living on a commune, the last of her youthful idealism is worn away by how easy it is for peace loving pacifists fall into patriarchal roles once some smell the scent of power. Was French disillusioned with that era? Was she tired of my generation's romanticism of that era? I wish I knew and I may email my friend who pointed French's publishers towards this blog.
There are novels and even biographies that post-Title IX, post-Roe feminists may read and think, "If only she had been born in our time, she would had been awesome!" We look at how the woman in the story ended up far short of where we think she should had ended her life. Instead of being a Gloria Steinem or Dolores Huerta, she gave up her writing career to be a good wife. Instead of leading the revolution, she stayed home to raise her children. Jess' happy ending isn't one out of a feminist fairy tale, yet it shouldn't be one we toss aside with my initial conclusion of weak.
But what does a feminist "happily ever after" look like? Is it growing up to be President of NOW or is it being able to lead a fairly normal life with feminist awareness? I think that question is hard to answer for those of us, like me, who believe that being a feminist means being an activist and especially hard for those who believe you need to keep climbing some invisible ladder to "the top."
And now I know why French was revered as a genius of feminist writing and of feminism. Her last novel is an excellent read for young feminists who might think they have it all planned out, to show that plan or no plan, life throws you punches and sometimes lands them square in the gut. It's a great read for those of is approaching midlife (oh dear goddess that's me!) who are reevaluating "what could had been" and if our bad decisions were the result of unfeminist thinking. I suspect this book may be a salve on any feminists from "The Love Children" era who think that fell far short of the promise/expectations. Just as I tell my students, not everyone gets into med school and not everyone is meant to be a doctor – Not everyone is meant to be Marilyn French and there's no shame in that.(less)
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with NASA and astronauts. One year I spent the entire summer studying for the Air Force Academy's entrance exam becau...moreWhen I was a kid, I was obsessed with NASA and astronauts. One year I spent the entire summer studying for the Air Force Academy's entrance exam because I thought the best way to be an astronaut was to be a pilot. The only thing that I didn't learn was that years before Sally Ride was shot into space, thirteen women were willing, ready and able to do the same.
In Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, Tanya Lee Stone, takes us back to a time before Title IX, before women in science programs, before the second wave of feminism, when it was all too easy for the US Government, NASA and a Vice-President to simply say no to women dreaming of floating among the stars.
The discrimination against these 13 women was atrocious. Every single test that was set up, these women passed with flying colors, yet NASA still said no to them. Many of the men of Mercury and Apollo missions testified against the women in front of Congress. The wives of astronauts would also speak up against the women. But the 13 women weren't alone...Scores of women across the country took to the streets and wrote letters to the White House demanding that the 13 women be allowed to enter the astronaut program.
Almost Astronauts is a moving young adult book. One that tells a simply story of women striving to fulfill their dreams. One that fills in some holes in American history, but I didn't feel was hitting young people over the head with the feminism stick. The photos and historical documents shown are powerful. I would recommend this book to any young woman, especially one in high school who is ready to take on the world on her own, who may be questioning where she will take her life and definitely one who may be dreaming bigger than most people think is proper.(less)
I love everything about the U.S. Open except the line calls. ~ Serena Williams
I experienced this past U.S. Open upset of Serena Williams with a differ...moreI love everything about the U.S. Open except the line calls. ~ Serena Williams
I experienced this past U.S. Open upset of Serena Williams with a different perspective than if I hadn't read her memoir "On the Line." The book is written in Serena's voice. It's personal, it's conversational, and that's why I like it. I enjoyed her reflection on her life thus far.
I have to say that Serena is a spoiled brat, but that observation comes from her directly. She tells stories that curled this big sister's toes of scheming to get her way, cheating, and destroying her sisters' property. In looking back at all that peeking thru her fingers, I respect Serena for her honesty and self-criticism, and I agree with her judgment that she was a horrible little sister!
Serena spends a lot of time defending her father from the criticism he still receives about his coaching style. While her mom was pregnant with Venus, Serena admits her father decided that they would raise two tennis champions, and well, they did. He and Serena's mom taught themselves the game by playing and watching videos then he taught his daughters while they were living in Compton by playing on public courts. Even if the man is a controlling jerk, as some said early in the Williams Sisters career, you have to admit there's no country club pedigree here!
Serena digs deep to tackle the class and racial privilege they smacked into when Venus hit the tennis scene in a chapter on the 2001 Indian Wells tournament. Clearly, the girls were raised with a keen sense of history, especially civil rights history, and I've always admired Venus and Serena both for the way they play and for their tip of the hat to those who came before them.
Serena has a clear sense of racial and gender justice. Not only does Serena spend time discussing race and class, but she addresses all the fat comments she has received over the years. Positive body image is big with her. She understands that, as an internationally known tennis player and someone with more money than most of us will ever know, she has a responsibility to others on many fronts. I didn't follow all the Oprah criticism when the star built a school in Africa, but Serena gives the best response to that criticism I've ever seen by wrapping her justification around a touching story of visiting difference countries in Africa and wanting to do something.
She also lets us in on how much fashion has always played a key part of her and Venus' game. They weren't strong women athletes who "discovered" fashion as a way to sell themselves to the media or fans. They are savvy business women who aren't afraid of taking chances. Along with her sister, Serena will continue to blaze a path for herself and for others.
Even if you aren't a tennis fan or even someone who follows the players closely, we all know that there are some players who make a splash and then disappear or even worse, publicly self-destruct. Pressure and age are often pointed to as the factors as well as pushy parents. It's clear from this memoir that Serena and Venus couldn't have been "The Williams Sisters" without each other. Serena Williams has it all and survives. She did it despite a battle with depression, which she outlines with grace.
Serena haters won't like this book at all, but if you are truly interested in finding out what makes this powerful woman tick, pick up this memoir. It reminds me that Serena's been counted out far too many times and has always come back. She dug herself a hole, but I have faith that she'll redeem herself and silence the critics... again.(less)
Eliot takes a much debated issue - are girls and boys fundamentally different? - and sets out with a well restrained heart. Eliot painstakingly goes t...moreEliot takes a much debated issue - are girls and boys fundamentally different? - and sets out with a well restrained heart. Eliot painstakingly goes thru all available scientific research and popular culture books to sort out the truth. Are men from Mars and women from Venus? In a nutshell, no.
What Eliot does is walk us thru the research, data and the facts about the differences. I say painstakingly because this 315 page tome has almost 40 pages of endnotes and 45 pages of bibliography and zero fluff. Some might find this book too much - to that I say, read the sections you want to read. Even a paragraph is worthy of your time. Take small bites if you must, you won't be disappointed.
By now I hope you get the idea that Eliot has given us a book that puts all the research in perspective. She's not far left nor far right. As the mom of two boys and one girl, she has personal interest in each side of the debate.
Eliot does a great job at taking the popular culture literature that tells us that boys and girls are so different they can't be taught together and rips it to shreds WITH DATA! Yet, she also acknowledges the boy crisis as a real phenomena WITH DATA!
And this is where I think the book is genius. Eliot gives us so much data to prove her conclusions that you find yourself nodding along with one idea, then she switches over to the "counter" issue and you nod along. Here's what I mean:
Prenatal testosterone does make a difference to how boys and girls act and think, but not as much as we think. There are biological differences to the hormone levels, but it is not the end all be all reason why boys are more aggressive, better at math or whatnot.
Eliot shows us that nature does give boys and girls their own small advantages in life, but it is our socialization that exasperates them to such an extreme that we think that bravery is masculine and the need for emotional attention is feminine. Example: In an experiment where moms were asked to guess how steep an incline their infants can climb down - face first - the moms underestimated the girls by 9 degrees. This suggests that even at infancy moms already believe that girls can't be as brave or agile at such a young age. "Girls attempted and successfully descended slopes ranging in angle from 10 degress to 46 degress, while boys attempted slopes between 12 and 38 degree (pp 66-67)." Thus no difference in performance, but a big difference in expectation. Does this mean that moms are holding back their girls?
Eliot also points out that boys are, on average, larger at birth than girls. We usually think about how tough this might had been on the woman pushing an extra few pounds of baby out, but Eliot reminds us that this is tough on the newborn too. This could be why boys are fussier babies. Where our gender ideas come into play is that Eliot points to research that shows that parents are more willing to let baby boys cry longer than baby girls. This is the beginning of toughening our boys out AND where they start to learn that expressing their emotions doesn't pay. Are we shushing our boys into their un-emo ways?
Eliot covers the gamut from in utero thru the teen years, from emotions to math skills.
What I learned here is simple and honestly pretty much what I've been saying for years too. Yes, girls and boys are different, they have biological differences, but most of the differences we see are created. Eliot shows us the research that proves over and over that there are bigger differences within genders than between them. That the differences that are there are small. SMALL!
But it also challenged me to reexamine my views of gender and how we are socializing our kids. This book didn't just reaffirm my beliefs, but it taught me a lot about how we see gender. (less)
Not only do I love this book, the kid loves it too. This is a book I would have begged my parents to buy me when I was a kid. During the 4th and 5th g...moreNot only do I love this book, the kid loves it too. This is a book I would have begged my parents to buy me when I was a kid. During the 4th and 5th grade I went thru my Presidential phase. I not only read most of a totally age-inappropriate biography on JFK (in other words, it wasn't a picture book) and made a zine of First Ladies (oh, what I'd give to still have that!) but I seriously was hooked on the White House.
This book gives kids a peek into the White House, the First Family and all the offices that make up the cabinet and the people who work there. It's a great primer for kids to learn about the three branches of our government, but especially the Executive branch. It even covers the primaries and the election. But the vast majority is focused on President Obama and how he's working to make our country better. (less)