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Pretty Bitches: On Being Called Crazy, Angry, Bossy, Frumpy, Feisty, and All the Other Words That Are Used to Undermine Women
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Pretty Bitches: On Being Called Crazy, Angry, Bossy, Frumpy, Feisty, and All the Other Words That Are Used to Undermine Women

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Leading women writers examine the power of the words that are used to diminish women

Words matter. They wound, they inflate, they define, they demean. They have nuance and power. "Effortless," "Sassy," "Ambitious," "Aggressive": What subtle digs and sneaky implications are conveyed when women are described with words like these? Words are made into weapons, warnings, pr
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Seal Press
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Start your review of Pretty Bitches: On Being Called Crazy, Angry, Bossy, Frumpy, Feisty, and All the Other Words That Are Used to Undermine Women
Schizanthus Nerd
While I’d never heard of a couple of the words explored in this book before, including yellow-bone, most have been attributed to either myself or women I know. I expected to get fired up reading this book and assumed I’d finish it with an overwhelming need to fix something, anything, everything, like I did after reading Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture.

Unfortunately, while some chapters stood out to me and made me want to know more about their authors (these are marked with 😊) I coul
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Sahitya
More of a solid 3.5 but I’m rounding up.

I knew I had to read this book as soon as I saw the title. Every single word that the authors discuss in this collection of essays has a history of dehumanization and insult when attributed to women, even though some of them don’t feel so on the face. Some of these personal stories were very relatable, some interesting to get to know while others didn’t leave that much of a mark - but ultimately, this is a noteworthy collection of essays, not just to under
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Iryna *Book and Sword*
Here comes the book that needs to be on every woman's to-read list.

A collection of essays written by very different women, from very different backgrounds, that blend and flow together amazingly well.

Each essays explores a word, that all of us as women collectively, have been called at one point or another in our lives. Bossy, loud, cute, lucky, fat... Words have power, and those who wield them even more so. But these women are trying to reclaim that power. Some them have already done it and a
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Laura
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I will now share the following collection of gems that I transcribed from this enjoyable collection of essays on being anything that defies the status quo while female.

“I was and am driven by relentless curiosity. I wonder about everything all the time. I ask endless questions because the world fascinates me. And this has made me very, very good at my job” by Adaora Udoji (0:40:40).

“To make our arguments heard, in debate and in public discourse, our voices must first and foremost give comfort to
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Jenny
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it

This book sees me: fat, intimidating, ambitious, crazy, aloof, shrill, feisty, too, mom.

“America hates women and we’re all fucking tired.”
Amen sister.
Donna Hines
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
As a woman, if you assert yourself you're bound to make enemies and even those who seek to destroy you with their toxicity.
However, what we need to understand is their animosity is not our's to own.
If you have haters you are doing something right ladies!
It's not you and you have nothing to own here.
While I enjoyed the stories I'm sure all of us can write a book on this topic especially those like self who were smear campaigned from a malignant narcissist.
Labels need not imply character and what'
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Caroline Leavitt
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh yes, I happen to love and Lizzie Skurnick, but that doesn't mean I can't write an honest review of her outrageously funny and smart new book she's edited, PRETTY BITCHES. The concept--using a single word as a way to talk about how women navigate our world--is genius, and the essays range from being a princess to a professional. It's downright empowering, and also, really, just what every person needs to read. ...more
Samantha  Sprott
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So good on audio!! Really enjoyed this book of essays about women’s experiences of being judged for being strong, independent, bossy and every other word you can think of and how they’ve over come it.
J Wells
A lot of good essays my favorites being Too, Mature, Ugly, Crazy, Funny, Intimidating, Tomboy, and Fat.
Sara
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty Bitches is a collection of essays on how certain words can be used to undermine women. As you'd expect from a fairly expansive collection of essays, some are great, some are okay, and some are meh.

The theme that was more surprising to me was all of the subtle ways women are undermined for their accomplishments. That was more prevalent than any other theme. This was described in several essays including "Professional", "Lucky", and "Ambitious". My favorite of those was Lucky, in which the
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Sara Cunningham
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of essays all by women on words that have been used to undermine them (and are used to invalidate and devalue woman and their experiences in general). I read a review that said something like “this is a book that every woman should have on her to read list” and yes, I agree with this, it’s 100% true, but I will also say: MEN need to have this on their to read list. Let’s stop putting pressure on women to explain to men why their behavior is fucked up and sexist, and encourage men ...more
Annie
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
"Pretty Bitches" by Lizzie Skurnick is a collection of essays written by women addressing the labels women face in the workplace, at school, in life in general. These brave women write candidly and openly, sharing their personal stories showcasing the challenges women face for being women. Many of the topics and labels addressed are words and situations that we hear about everyday. Reading these essays opened my eyes on how hurtful different words/looks/actions can be and how women can hide that ...more
L
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'Sticks and stones may .............' it's a complete lie!

I thoroughly enjoyed every story/essay each contributor brought to these pages. The words used against us (as women) are meant to subjugate if we became a threat or be perceived as threatening by the other half of society. It is also a reminder of how we should temper and rein in our use of words when speaking about ourselves as well.

Well worth a read.
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Frances Bland
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-nonfiction
This collection of essays reminds everybody that it’s not okay to call woman all of these names. I’m sure every woman can relate to several of these stories. Many of them just made me angry for the women writing them. I often caught myself shaking my head and wishing I could have been there for the younger versions of these women. It’s definitely a must-read.
Kate Grace
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was consistently engaged and invested while reading. Even the essays that didn't click for me gave me a lot to think about, and to admire in the writing. Also, the anchor of language - the words we use - is amazing.

Thank you to Seal Press (Hachette Book Group) and Goodreads Giveaways for my copy.
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Mehrsa
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There were so many great essays in this book and I love the framing of the words that were used to cut women down and the subversion of some of those insults into a point of pride. Definitely worth a read.
Danielle
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I wish this were a book just about language undermining women. There is much to say on this topic. Instead, it is a collection of feminist essays that felt very general in topic. But there were some definite gems in there (particularly about the word "crazy"), but it wasnt what I was expecting from the title. I enjoyed the pieces about how women get undermined or written off as "difficult/to be avoided" whenever they disagree with the majority male opinion.

In solid middle age territory as I am,
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Hayley
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a hard book for me to rate as a whole as this is a collection of essays. This book attracted me quickly and I was excited to read it, especially as a woman who has been called and/or labeled plenty of the words this book focuses on. The downfall of this book for me was that the collection of essays were all written by different women. I loved this idea, getting perspectives from all different women and their different experiences, but that meant that each and every chapter was a differen ...more
Laura Engelhardt
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The project's conception was perfect -- each essay was written by a different author about a particular word used to diminish/denigrate women. I liked the variety of perspectives & each felt authentic. I agree with some of the other reviewers that not every essay spoke to me -- but that's okay -- enough of them resonated. Words matter & books like this that highlight how acceptable terms are used to keep women in their place are important influences on our society. Changing our culture so that o ...more
Martha
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great collection of essays. Some were wonderful, some just okay, but the book as a whole was entertaining and thought-provoking. Many of my pet peeves about how women's behavior is often described were addressed (you know, women are emotional or hysterical, men are "passionate," etc. etc.). So a very satisfying read. I was unfamiliar with some of the authors of these essays, and will be looking for their other writings. ...more
Lisa K
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway. I enjoyed many of the essays.
Jocelyn Beecher
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF. Recently there has been a surge of essay collections like this one. "Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger", "Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture", "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence", and "Women Under Scrutiny: An Anthology of Truths, Essays, Poems, Stories and Art" all came to mind when I saw this title. Unfortunately "Pretty Bitches" is underwhelming and I don't feel it added much to the conversation. ...more
Angie
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for its diverse voices. They all fit together very well, despite being written by vastly different people covering different subjects. However, as much as I enjoyed reading the essays, I didn’t love the book itself. I wish that there had been a slightly more robust wraparound instead of a relatively short preface and ending on a list of words you really shouldn’t call women (which was clever, I admit, but I don’t think it really served in any way to end the book).

As I said be
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Jordan Brown
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway and I'm so glad I did! It's a collection of personal essays all by different women authors, each centered around a word that is commonly used to undermine women. I read the book very quickly because the essays were very readable- diverse in circumstance and tone. Some where sad, some were funny, some were angry. Some felt like I could have written myself while others felt like a glimpse into a perspective I had never quite seen before. ...more
Amber
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like any anthology there are some I loved and some that were not my favorite. The best part of short stories is if you don't love it you do not have to read (or in my case listen) for too long. My absolute favorite was "Nurturing". Overall I enjoyed the collection of stories and would recommend, it made me think about words we use to describe others and the deeper meaning and impacts they may have. ...more
Kim
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection of essays by many different women. Each one was about a different word that had been used to describe the author at some point in her life. The essays were all really powerful and a great demonstration of how language is used to dehumanize women and keep them out of positions of power. Yes, it made me really angry all the time but in a good way. I think it will help me notice these words when I hear them in the wild.
Ashley
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this collection of essays about words used to diminish women. Each essay takes a word that has been used against its author, explores it, and then many of the essays go on to reclaim the word. This collection is important, and it will definitely make me examine my unconscious bias and use of some of these words going forward. Lots of food for thought.
Brenda McCloud
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lizzie Skurnick, in her book, ALL THE OTHER WORDS THAT ARE USED TO UNDERMINE WOMEN, has every chapter title a word that the chapter speaks to. A grandmother I'm friends with I shared the chapter on "crazy" because her adult son is always calling her "crazy". Each chapter is written by a different author and it really reaches the heart of what women are belittled by these certain words. ...more
Sarah
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really liked this collection! Shorter essays seem just right for me these days, and it got me thinking about the words we use to describe women. "Nurturing" was probably my favorite. Highly recommend! ...more
Julie Giehl
Apr 26, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020-books
Like all essay books, I enjoyed some essays more than others, Tomboy, Intimidating, Bossy were a few favorites. What I loved most about this collection was the deep dive into the power of language, how powerful and triggering words can be. Overall, excellent collection.
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