Sarah's Reviews > Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics

Look Both Ways by Jennifer Baumgardner
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Jan 09, 12

bookshelves: feminism, gender-sexuality, glbtq, nonfiction
Read from January 07 to 09, 2012

I really wish I could give 2.5 stars, because I don't think this one deserves 3, but it isn't as bad as a plain 2.

I went into this one aware of a lot of the criticism, but still wanting to give it a shot, because I feel like there's a dearth of good books on bisexuality. (Also, I enjoyed Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future when I read it for a class in college.)

Unfortunately, this book has two huge problems. First (and worst) of all, as mentioned in many of the reviews, Baumgardner privileges bisexuality over all other sexualities, which is extremely problematic in of itself, but which also makes the book come off as smug and self-congratulatory. (The fact that the author is something of a name-dropper does not help.) Second of all, the author apparently never made up her mind as to whether she was writing a memoir or a critical analysis. To be perfectly honest, there was not enough research for the latter, and not enough depth for the former.

And yet, the book was accessible, readable, and had some good points. Ultimately, though, I think it's also pretty forgettable.
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Reading Progress

01/07/2012 "Neither of the feminism/gender studies books I'd ordered through inter-library loan have come in yet, and I really needed something in that genre. This one was in, so I'm giving it a shot despite some of the bad reviews."
01/08/2012 page 12
5.0% "OK, I've only just finished the intro, and I'm already finding this one problematic. I won't give just yet, but this one is on shaky ground."
01/09/2012 page 68
27.0% "Baumgardner can't seem to decide whether she's writing a memoir or a critical analysis. But she really hasn't done enough research for the latter."

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon "smug and self-congratulatory," and "author apparently never made up her mind as to whether she was writing a memoir or a critical analysis"

...These are two things I noticed about Manifesta. I couldn't get through it based on the writing style. Which bummed me out because I heard so many great things about it...

Seems like Baumgardner still hasn't matured as a writer in the past decade.


message 2: by A.K. (new)

A.K. 'Lo, I happened to see my GR friend's comment on this & found myself a. agreeing very-much-so re: Baumgardner and b. wondering if you'd come across Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life? I humbly recommend it.


Sarah I remember liking Manifesta when I read it for college, but that was years ago, and it was early in my exposure to non-fiction feminist writings, so I don't imagine I was very critical (instead, just being happy to have found them at all).


Sarah A.K. wrote: "'Lo, I happened to see my GR friend's comment on this & found myself a. agreeing very-much-so re: Baumgardner and b. wondering if you'd come across [book:Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday L..."

Hi! I did pick that one up once a couple of years ago, but the tone was perhaps a little academic for my taste at the time. I probably ought to give it another shot.


message 5: by A.K. (new)

A.K. Now that I think about, I recall it took me quite some time to make it through the dry, academic bits. I swear Garber cuts loose at one point or another.


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