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Females: A Concern

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Everyone is female "When I say that everyone is female, I mean very simply that everyone wants to be a woman. What one does with this desire is what we call gender." So begins Andrea Long Chu's investigation into gender and desire, females and bodies, radical dreams and philosophical pessimism, and feminism as a form of political suicide. Feminism, Chu argues, is an untena ...more
Paperback, 106 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Verso Books
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Callie Gardner
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
oof. ok.

something has to shift in the way we talk about gender. so much of the current vocabulary essentialises transness and queerness, which works as a defensive strategy, but clearly has its rhetorical limits, given the current climate. so experimental texts that aim to alter the terms of the debate are badly needed, and we have some great ones – manifestos, memoirs, poetry, politics.

but that's not what "Females" is. Andrea Long Chu has "commitment to a bit" but that's not the sa
...more
Punk
Written by the author of Psycho Analysis, that excellent review of Bret Easton Ellis's White.
Pavol Hardos
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is a bit of a lark, which is fine.

Andrea Long Chu is extremely smart and funny; I pre-ordered the book as soon as I learned about it. But being smart and funny can only take you so far.

Early on she declares ethics to be “a commitment to a bit”.

She defines female as being subject to the will of another, it is “any psychic operation in which the self is sacrificed” for the desires of others (p.11); for her the category of femaleness is in this sense an
...more
Anwen Hayward
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book says absolutely nothing new or cohesive about gender, but also has some genuinely interesting sections on art and politics, which constitute, along with the genuinely excellent writing, the entirety of my rating. As for the actual concept of the book? It contradicts itself more often than it makes a coherent point. It's difficult to actually engage with a book when its central thesis (everyone is female and everyone hates it) is so flatly drawn and isn't constructed with evidence or we ...more
Cat
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Giving it 5 stars because it was so immediately enjoyable to read (Andrea Long Chu is brilliant with sentence-level metaphors) but longer discussion to be had about the thoroughness of her argument, balance of personal essay and gender theory, etc
Ana
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Andrea Long Chu is very much a hit-or-miss writer. "On Liking Women" is great. "My New Vagina Won't Make Me Happy," not so much. I was hoping Females would be a lot more like the former than the latter. In this case, the opposite is true.

I'll save specifics for my breakdown at the Daily Dot below. The TL;DR is that I believe Chu's theories are dangerously misplaced. What she describes as being "female" is just codependency, and it's codependency done to hold up cisnormativity. In her eyes,
...more
Peter
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m hate-reading this for a friend who despises Andrea Long Chu. Unfortunately for her I have been really enjoying it, but I’m still coming up with reasons why one could hate it to provide ammo.

For starters, while this is a book about transgender identity (and one that directly addresses opponents, terfs, incels, &c) I would not describe the scope of transgender identity explored to be universal. This book doesn’t address non-binary identity, and it’s focus on desire seems to exclude the ps
...more
jennifer simpson from clock tower
i started & finished reading andrea long chu's debut book the day hideo kojima's first game as an independent developer, death stranding, was released. in death stranding, there are these enemies called MULEs, rogue porters sleekly /gekleidet/ in lemon yellow hazmat suits, who've become addicted to cargo - that is, packages intended for recipients other than themselves - & the idea of the delivery thereof. MULEs routinely ambush your lonesome protagonist, a porter (read: delivery person) ...more
Nick Malone
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was genuinely surprised by this little book. I've been a fan of ALC's since reading her piece on gender affirmation procedures and "happiness" in NYT, and was excited to see how that voice would translate into a more concretely theoretical context. It's clear from the few anecdotal/memoir-ish passages that the thesis is profoundly personal to her, which I think made me more willing to hold on tight while she performed all of the mental gymnastics required to land where she does across the book ...more
Emily Carlin
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, lucid, crush-able, compelling. An inspiring level of commitment to the bit!

Excuse the cliche but ... a breath of fresh air.

“Some explanations are in order. For our purposes here, I’ll define as female any psychic operation in which the self is sacrificed to make room for the desire of another. These desires may be real or imagined, concentrated or diffuse — a boyfriend’s sexual needs, a set of cultural expectations, a literal pregnancy — but in all cases, the self is hollowed out, m
...more
sunalso
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: essay, gender, nonfiction
Part love letter to Valerie Solanas, part confessional, this book reaches for something both deeply personal and strikingly universal but ultimately doesn't achieve it. There are brilliant and wry assertions, but being so strongly clothed in the garments of the 1960 New York artistic era--by name dropping, talking about Freud, masturbation, pop culture--that the end effect is to mire the vision in banality. We've all been here before. The author is so desperate to see herself as part of the scen ...more
Chloe
Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Bad theory by a self-loathing trans woman who's been given an unfortunately large soapbox instead of spewing her hot takes out onto tumblr like all the rest of us. It's like she read Monique Wittig's "One is not Born a Woman" and took exactly the opposite point from it. Chu loves to read her own personal experiences as representative of the whole of trans femininity, and this is as painful to read as it is depressing. The girl should be putting this into a therapy session instead of ok n bookshe ...more
lucas ritchie-shatz Ritchie-Shatz
i’d rate this 3.5 hypothetically but lol. i like it but i don’t know i fully understand it. chu touches on a lot of points to support her theory of “femaleness” but it can feel like marshall mcluhan’s writing, which is to say she is trying to explain something that makes perfect sense in her head and so she explains it quickly as to move onto extrapolations while the reader is trying to catch up. her passion and knowledgeability of her subjects are clear and infectious, but her ideas about them ...more
Jordan
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I love Andrea Long Chu's writing and had been looking forward to this book since I first heard she was working on it. My initial disappointment in the total page count led to me reading it slowly, but the further I got the more I realized these pages were packed to the brim with ideas. If I had to knock it I'd say that things aren't always fully fleshed out, but I'm looking forward to seeing how these ideas (and her broader idea of 'everyone as female and everyone hates it') are shaped by her an ...more
Perdana
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not that coherent, nevertheless still captivating. Don't understand why many hate this small book and accuses Chu as a self-loathing transwoman/dangerously fueling the hate against trans. Just because one experience in transition doesn't fulfill any cishet feminist womxn fantasy, doesn't mean it's invalid
. If anything, it is a mockery against TERFs. Her "everyone is female" reminds me of the feminization of work theory. Her engagement with Valerie Solanas is astonishing.
Cary Stough
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Absolutely baffling. An otherwise fan of ALC's work (though not all of it). I now see just how far away from me the content can swing.

The "bit"--we're all female and we hate it--is easy enough to take. But the treatment of it, which seems an untrustworthy detour through autobiography, a narrative that doesn't even trust itself, and slyly Lacanian lack-tarrying, totally put me off.

It's usually not a good sign when you begin reading something and think: "did zizek write this?"
...more
Georgia
immensely readable , which is more than I can say for a lot of theory! This is a slim little book that acts as a love letter to valerie solanas— andrea long chu very successfully makes a case for her iconography — and an attempt at putting words , stakes , risks to the definition of gender. I suppose the reason I hesitate to put stats to this review is I’m not sure how convinced I am by her argument. that said, alc can write and I was delighted by the cultural texts she cites. her piece on fight ...more
Alys
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and stimulating but disappointingly short. More a prompt for thought than an elaboration of an idea. At one point she says something like "and I hope I'm starting to convince you [of my thesis]" and it's very jarring, like "is that what's supposed to be happening? Cos I've just been free-associating my way through this". I want to read the in-depth version of this argument. I suspect she's misreading castration, and fatally ignoring the phallus, for instance, but without being given th ...more
Scott Gould
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
What the fuck was that? I'm not entirely sure, but it was gonzo good. We are all females--female being defined as giving ourselves up to something or someone and how we choose to act upon that is what gives us gender. I think?

It's a perfect framing device to use the SCUM Manifesto and Valerie Solanas's play Up Your Ass to take a weird trip through trans feminist (?) theory. Short and sweet, and now I want to know much more about Chu and everything she's written elsewhere.
Bridget
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-reread
Maybe I would have paid attention in college if our expository writing teachers handed us something like this.
I cackled myself to sleep for a couple nights to this volume, and then promptly sought out essays of hers I hadn't yet read.
This sort of irreverence, this snarky refusal to take anything too seriously, is the only thing I can possibly take seriously nowadays.
Forget PC; leave it in the 90s with adults wearing Looney Tunes on their garments. This is more fun, and it gets
...more
Mehrsa
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a provocative book written by a bold thinker and writer! The thesis is nuts (everyone is female), but that's the point--put something out there and try to defend it. The book is a breath of fresh air in the debate about gender. It's smart and it will make you think and even if you don't agree with the thesis, that's not even the point, just enjoy the ride.
Kylie
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating, like all of Andrea Long Chu’s work. I didn’t understand it as well as I have understood other things she has written, but I’m letting it marinate. I tend to take things too seriously, though, and I think part of the message here was that nothing need be taken seriously.
Caroline
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Merciless and sharp as it is giving.
Joshua
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delirious, apocalyptic, wild, funny, a razor, imprecise.
Angela Hui
Wish she committed to the bit a little more tbh
Kate O'Hanlon
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist-stuff
You cannot deny that she's committed to the bit
Lauren
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Sharp. Clean. Hilarious.
Vuk Trifkovic
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved it. Loved the start, love the thesis, love the flashes of wit. Shame it wasn't a bit longer...
Amelia Covington
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. After finishing this brilliant book, I feel eviscerated. Which, I suppose, is very "female" of me. Piercing, bold, and thought-provoking.
س
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Long Chu is an excellent thinker and critic and I was expecting something much more here.
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