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Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,151 ratings  ·  180 reviews
The Female Monster is alive and well in the pop-cultural imagination. What does she tell us about ourselves and how we live today?

Funny, smart and encyclopedic, nimbly addressing everyone from the biblical Lilith, to the movie Carrie, to Hae Min Lee (whose death was the focus of the first season of "Serial"), this book is dedicated to exploring the female dark side, as rep
Paperback, 330 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Melville House
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Ashley Hi! I was a little perplexed by the summary after reading the book, to be honest. I don't think it was intended for that at all, but others who have r…moreHi! I was a little perplexed by the summary after reading the book, to be honest. I don't think it was intended for that at all, but others who have read may respond if they would like.

Certainly women and men are both capable of dangerous acts, but I believe what the book ends up remarking on are violent acts, situations, or popular culture movies tend to favor blaming women, at different stages of their lives, for people's reaction to women. Such as many exorcism movies focusing on girls in the puberty stage acting strangely and thinking they are possessed, or tracing the actions of serial killers back to bad parenting (probably bad mothering).

I don't think it's saying that people (not just men, as other women are guilty of this as well) are right to believe that women are dangerous, rather saying that that they DO believe that women are dangerous and here are the arguments to prove that this is true, still happening, and to be aware.

Hope this helps!(less)

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Start your review of Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power
I requested this book from my library when I saw a friend reading it (because honestly, who could resist that title??) and then impatiently waited the 13 weeks for it to be available. And I think the wait was totally worth it. I have been reading a lot more nonfiction books the last few years, on a variety of different topics including a fair bit of feminist work, but this was a very different beast (pardon the pun). This book examines how patriarchal norms have influenced culture and media, and ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As someone who loves horror, has an interest in women's history, and has a darker sense of humour, I fell in love with this book before I was even finished reading its introduction.

The book covers everything from odd true crime cases (and often how they go on to influence pop culture), The Exorcist and several other horror gems (like Dracula, The Craft, Carrie, and even Godzilla and Twin Peaks), witchcraft, menstruation, motherhood, female sexuality, etc. It's super informative - though not wit
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you feel like women are reaching a boiling point; if you question why we think about daughters, mothers, and wives the way we do; if you've always wondered where it all came from and where it might be heading..... read this book.

In her compulsively readable, feminist manifesto, Sady Doyle takes a sharp look at mythology, pop culture, and real women through a lens to see how patriarchy was, is, and always has been how we see women.

Completely fascinating (the couple pages of Jurassic Park alo
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Liliths
Recommended to Vivian by: Becky
Solid Lilith Fare.

Doyle approaches the immense spread and pressure of patriarchy via popular media through the ages: myths to movies. This is an easy to grasp format that doesn't sacrifice while demonstrating how pervasive the concept of heterosexual male dominance has been and still is as given through the lens of storytelling from history--a narrative told by subsequent peoples--to mass hysteria, Salem witch trials, e.g., to horror film genre to literature and so on and so on . . .

Doyle's insi
Kara Babcock
Women are monsters, according to the patriarchy. That’s the thesis of Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power, Sady Doyle’s follow-up to her 2016 Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why . To elaborate a bit more, Doyle argues that the portrayal of women (and femininity) in our media and culture overlaps with our understanding of the monstrous, the Other, the unnatural or unholy, and in this way patriarchal structures encoura ...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
In Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power, Sady Doyle examines the influence of patriarchy on culture and media; describes how patriarchal norms fuel attitudes toward women and women’s roles; and illustrates the way in which acts of violence against real women are intertwined with popular cultural depictions of women, with each feeding off one another and reinforcing one another. Doyle divides her feminist exploration into three parts: patriarchal str ...more
Marcus Kaye
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit this book was so good. Love horror? Love women? THEN HAVE I GOT A BOOK FOR YOU! Don’t? Then why are we even friends?
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I loved Doyle's last book, this one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I think her analysis of culture casting women as monstrous is both valid and important, but in condensing her examples, I feel that she sometimes leaves out crucial details that don't support her case. For instance, she contrasts Aileen Wuornos's six death sentences to Gary Ridgway's life imprisonment but fails to mention a) Ridgway has 48 life sentences plus 480 years and b) he was spared the death penalty in exchan ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Men have long believed that women—our desires, bodies, and demands for equality and autonomy—are monstrous. You see, if women are free to make their own decisions, it would destroy the patriarchy, and we can't have that. Here Sady Doyle takes a look at myth and horror through a feminist lens to discover what these stories can tell us, and how all those horror movie lessons are meant to oppress women by making their autonomy (from men, from pregnancy, from motherhood, from the patriarchy) into so ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
By far one of the best non fiction books I've read this year. It shines a spotlight on how men's fear of women manifests itself in popular culture, and how these depiction can have an impact on women's lives. The first example is the popularity of exorcisms in real life, that stems from a popular horror film The Exorcist, a dangerous and violent practice that prevents women who are in real need of help from getting it. She explores why so many women are drawn to horror movies and true crime stor ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
I love Sady Doyle’s writing. She’s able to weave together stories about actual historical and current figures, fictional characters, and women from myths into an entertaining book about the patriarchal and misogynistic fear of “monstrous” women.

The book is broken down into three main sections: daughters, wives, and mothers. I definitely enjoyed the book as a whole, but I was more interested in the daughters and wives sections than the one about mothers. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for
Angela Hetrick
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-a-book-club
I'm so amped. Female power let's goooo.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-read, nonfiction
Didn't really care for this. It wasn't what I expected.

There were some good quotes and I liked the idea, and the references to media.

The title says "female" but while some parts touch on being female, there's a lot of gender-essentialism. Gender is not only a social construct but a patriarchal tool, but here it is treated as though innate.

For the most part, a lot of the misogyny depicted here is the standard, traditional misogyny. There are some more recent methods of misogyny I thought would
Melinda Borie
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like discovering a favorite song, one that is perfectly in tune and on best with you.

I wish I could take back every five-star review I’ve given any other book and give them all to this one, as though love was a zero-sum game, a competition that demands to be won. I feel seen and recognized by the writing here in a way I truly did not expect, and which I think many other women will be also. Doyle is clearly brilliant and thoughtful and skilled, and she also works to be incl
There are a lot of good ideas in this book that are worth discussing, but unfortunately the author didn't do a good enough job of assembling damning arguments. It's several steps above a rant, but still not cohesive enough to be a good analysis. Too many holes in her arguments, and I think she chose weak examples and went off way too strongly on them. Better targets and a less bitter tone would have helped. Wasted opportunity.
Rachel Elizabeth
I adored Trainwreck, but was majorly disappointed with this piece of work. Despite the hype, it really struck me as a structure-less collection of pop culture references, which began to feel less developed the further into the book I read.
Like every modern feminist text, just read it. It is crucial. It can help save humankind.

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
— Margaret Atwood.

And men do kill women. All the time.

It's a well known fact that men have always feared women. And because fear, like nearly every emotion aside from anger, is not allowed in men by the patriarchy, lest they be mocked and labelled as un-masculine and a "pussy" (read: like a woman, a fate worse than deat
Sam Cooke
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a good one! It sort of goes without saying that this book is chock full of spoilers. It’s a critical examination about women viewed as monsters and how we have allowed this notion to shape our nightmares. Doyle strings together real and fictional stories to tell this tale, and she does it very well.

This book mirrors many conversations I’ve had with women, about periods, being a mother, rape, and how scary it can be to walk home to name a few. It wraps these conversations into a nice suc
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devoured this on the plane, one because the subject matter is interesting but also because this book is an easy read with large print. Very accessible, I really enjoyed Doyle's take on a lot of classic tropes of monstrous women in literature, movies and popular culture (bonus points if you are familiar with most of the stories she references, but it's unnecessary for you to have read them on your own). She covers a wide range of things, from Laci Peterson to demonic possession to "Rebecca" by ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i really wish i could coherently convey how crazy good and truthful this book is but all i can hear is the opening to immigrant song playing in my mind at full volume
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A terrific and enraging book. Now I'm off to devour the reference works.
This book has everything—insightful cultural history, cutting insight, wonderful humour, and smooth, clear writing. Did you know that the majority of slasher pic fans are young women? Do you know why? You can find out here. Do you know that 40 years ago exorcism suddenly became popular in America? Then you probably know why. The answers are here. Do you know the source of Silence of the Lambs and Psycho are the same? Okay, maybe that was too easy. How about the source for Frankenstein? It was no ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, nonfiction
I found Doyle’s points rather insightful and intriguing. Her writing style sometimes annoyed me as she attempt to insert humor in odd places, but this did not really take away from the book as a whole.
Emily Chandler
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I spent months eagerly anticipating this book after reading Sady Doyle's debut Trainwreck, but this blew all my expectations out of the water. I devoured the entire thing in less than 24 hours both because its case studies and arguments were so compelling, and because its prose was moving, maddening and hilarious. I absolutely adored it, would recommend it to anyone with an interest in women, history, horror, true crime, gender and/or feminism, and am raring to read anything Sady Doyle comes out ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To say I’m obsessed with this book is almost an understatement. Not since my 1st women’s studies class in college did something resonate with me as much as this book. Specifically, in the way that Sady summarizes and makes big connections between women’s bodies and men’s fear of them that makes perfect sense to me. The book is about how men make monsters out of women in every stage of our lives. I’m also a huge horror/scary stories/myths fan and Sady expertly ties these stories to the wider patr ...more
One thing that separates Sady Doyle from other modern feminist writers is that her writing, while detailing the history of oppression women experience under patriarchy, is somehow fun to read. She draws on mythology and pop culture to make her points, which I guess can be more enjoyable than reading about the real-life ways women suffer at the hands of men (though there is plenty of that in this book, too). That said, she also doesn't make light of the ways society turns on women in this way. I ...more
Aidan Fortner
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Required reading
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed Sady Doyle's last book so I knew I would enjoy this one. I'm not a fan of horror but have seen enough to know that healthy interrogation of them is necessary to fighting back against a misogynist patriarchy. This book really does name a lot of the problems of misogyny through our canonized literature and movies--always seeming to blame victims and erasing the rape culture embedded in the conciousness of the men who worship patriarchy. I liked her reexamination of Scream because it was on ...more
Suz Jay
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“This is a dark book, but some things are clearer in the darkness. This is a violent book, but an unsparing confrontation with violence can bring us to what lies beneath and beyond it. Female monstrosity inspires fear because it really can in the world—or our current version of it, anyway. But our world is not the only one, or the best one, and in fact, the more time I spend with monsters, the more I think it’s destruction is overdue.”

The book is divided into three parts: Daughters, Wives, and M
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
In this book of analysis of pop culture and horror culture, author Sady Doyle looks at the monstrous feminine and how the patriarchy creates the myth of the female monster, particularly as it relates to the mother. This is not an academic book, and she looks at horror movies, popular horror, tabloids, true crime, literature, and news. I enjoyed this book very much, but I didn't find it to be groundbreaking.

It's an interesting pop culture book, and now I much rewatch Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracu
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Sady Doyle is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2008, Sady founded Tiger Beatdown, a pioneering blog in the "3,500-word-long rants about Tina Fey's career" space. While at Tiger Beatdown, they led several successful social media awareness campaigns, including #MooreandMe and #MenCallMeThings, and won the Women's Media Center Social Media Award in 2011.

Sady has been a staff writer at In The

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9 likes · 2 comments
“Women are defined from the outside, in terms of how they seem to men, rather than from the inside, as thinking, feeling subjects. They are not fellow people, not even a different or worse variety of person, but simply the opposite of men, and hence, the opposite of human.” 5 likes
“The ultimate violence patriarchy does to women is to make us believe we deserve what has been done to us—a loop forever closing, breaking us so that we will raise broken women.” 4 likes
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