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Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women
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Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,757 ratings  ·  245 reviews
In the last two years, the United States—its history, assumptions, prejudices, and vocabulary—have all cracked open. A woman won a state presidential primary contest (quite a few of them, actually) for the first time in this country's history. Less than a year later, a vice-presidential candidate concluded her appearance in a national debate and immediately reached for her ...more
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Published September 22nd 2010 by Tantor Media (first published September 14th 2010)
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Julie Ehlers
I read this book in its release year, 2011, for a book prize committee I was on here in Philadelphia. At the time, I felt like the last thing I wanted to do was relive the unpleasantness of the 2008 U.S. presidential primaries. Imagine my surprise that, in addition to being smart, insightful, and highly informative on both race and gender in electoral politics, this book was also an absolute joy to read--the writing was so wonderful that I didn't want to put it down. Incidentally, all of the oth ...more
Linda Robinson
Hmm. There is a wide-eyed, enthusiastic engagement here that would be appealing if it wasn't combined with an inclination toward comparing "the year that changed everything for American women" with the long and winding road of feminism and the fight for gender equality powered with a background white noise that smacks of the new girls critiquing the old broads. Maybe it's my greybeard status that has me feeling discomfited, and maybe I'm taking this tome personally, when it's just commentary. An ...more
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Here’s the main thing: Rebecca Traister can write her ass off. If anyone was going to be up to the Herculean task of summarizing what went down in the 2008 elections with regard to gender, race, and class it was Traister. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I have already read a couple of the behind-the-scenes accounts of the election which were interesting, but ultimately forgettable. Reading Big Girls Don’t Cry brought back the most infuriating moments of the year leading up to the electio ...more
“The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, flawed and unsuccessful though they may have been, the arrival of Michelle Obama on Pennsylvania Avenue, the cultural shifts and uncomfortable exchanges these women prompted, the eye-opening revelations about the progress of women in early twenty-first-century America were in fact the most rejuvenating things to happen to the feminist conversation in many, many decades. They created and nourished a new generation of politically engaged Americans ...more
Bonnie G.
This book focused on Hilary Clinton's 2008 presidential run, is extra fascinating in the dismal aftermath of her 2016 campaign. As usual, Traister provides compelling analysis, and tells some very good stories. This book is a combination of testimony from a reporter who covered the HRC campaign and the memoir of a young feminist, disappointed in the press (a number of reporters are raked over the coals here, including some lefty darlings) and the electorate but also in HRC the candidate and her ...more
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Written about the 2008 U.S. elections, this book offers a feminist perspective along with keen political commentary. It's especially meaningful to read as background to the 2016 election so far. ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first requested this book from the library, I mistakenly thought it was about the 2016 election. No, it's about 2008. And it is nuanced and thoughtful and asks all of the right questions, but I admit that I kept hoping it would magically end with coda chapters about the 2016 election. If 2008 is where the messiness in how we think about race and sex and gender and feminism came to a head, and about how different generations define those terms, 2016 is where they imploded. This is all to s ...more
Marjorie Ingall
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grownups
I can't help comparing this to Gail Collins's When Everything Changed. Traister's book is much tighter (it has a narrower focus -- the 2008 presidential election and what it says about American attitudes toward gender and race), much less sprawling (Collins's book is this ungainly sweeping spew through American history since 1950) and much, much more pointed. I loved it and found myself doing the crazed nodding thing -- YES YES YES! OMG SO INSIGHTFUL! -- right to the edge of whiplash territory. ...more
The intersection of politics, media, & gender has never been so interesting! Critically looking at the role gender politics played in the 2008 race, with discussion about the effects on the future of feminism going forward. The author follows the 4 leading ladies of this story through the political storm & beyond, includes discussions with Gloria Steinem, Jessica Valenti, Melissa Harris-Lacewell (now -Perry), Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, etc.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This, my first time reading Traister's long form nonfiction, was utterly depressing/fascinating and well-researched. As I was still in high school, then just starting college during this (like many/most others) tumultuous election, I was nowhere near as tuned in as I was with the 2016 cycle, so this visit back 10+ years kept me rapt. The book seamlessly volleys between focusing on Hillary Clinton's first presidential bid, Sarah Palin's late entry on McCain's ticket, as well as the feelings of fe ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audiobook
Every presidential election year since I've been old enough enough to vote (absentee Florida ballot in 2000, represent!), I start out in pretty deep denial. An election again? No, it can't be time for that. There's not enough wine and Xanax in the world. If I have to listen to one more blustery, backwards, misogynistic, trigger-happy, etc., etc. But by, oh, September or so, I'll be a basket case, all frayed nerves and is-this-the-year-we'll-finally-flee-for-Canada. So reading Rebecca Traister's ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca Traister's father and I were friends and colleagues when she was a very small child. I have followed her writing in Salon with great eagerness. This book made me very very angry all over again. Hillary was my gal, my hero, my role model (and my age). To go through once again the extraordinary sexism of that presidential campaign was actually quite painful, even in Traister's energetic and vivid style. I don't think she was as good to my generation of feminists as we deserve, but she reco ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, I enjoyed listening to this book about women in the 2008 election. There were a few sections I personally didn't agree w/the author's take, but it gave me a lot of interesting insight. However, I would say I prefer Ms. Traitster's latest book, All The Single Ladies, to this one. ...more
Ayelet Waldman
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love Rebecca's writing so much. This is a fascinating and moving ride. ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published in 2010...

"The path toward perfecting our union has long been marked by semicircles and swichbacks, regress, tragedy, and surprising forward bounds. Small advances spark resistance, resistance that in return provokes propellant bursts of reactive fury." p 6.

..Lord. Here we are. After Clinton's loss in 2016, one of the things I realized -- after reading a lot -- was that it was remarkable that the left / the Democratic Party thought we could follow the first black President with the fi
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was good. It made me a bit weepy at times. It starts by looking at the Clinton-Obama primary race, then the rise of Sarah Palin with a side of female comedians, and then briefly touches on Michelle Obama and Hillary as Secretary of State.

It was fun to see some of my own history of internet use in a book - I read Echidne of the Snakes and I loved Sarah Haskins and her Project Women comedy spots. And it was a good reminder of what happened, which I did follow in Korea but didn’t experience i
How fascinating to read this recap of the women of the 2008 election, now with 2016 in the rearview as well. (Has Chris Matthews learned anything?)

This book forced me to reconcile and reexamine my own thoughts about HRC's campaign in 2008; I realize now that I was still carrying much of my baggage/opinion from when I was younger, formed mostly through my own mother's opinion of HRC as first lady. By 2016 I was unequivocably Team Clinton - what had changed? Her, yes. But certainly me.

I also enjo
Christina Lear
Oct 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting look into the role of gender in the 2008 election including Hillary, Michelle, and Sarah Palin (I had forgotten about her!). It was interesting to read knowing what comes next for Hillary and I loved hearing about the tensions within the party and within feminism and how they were resolved or not.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p 54
Watching Michelle [Obama] reminded me of the chill I got from reading about Elizabeth Edwards teaching her kids to stand in a stiff wind. Running beneath the presidential foot-dragging, the perforation of her husband's hype, her calls to readiness, was an arresting sense of caution and realism. She might have been the only one making the sober estimate of how hard this was going to be, of what a leap people would need to take to make this happen. "Change is scary," she told the Iowans. "It w
Rebecca Traister has a way of really resonating with me. I finished All the Single Ladies stunned at how deeply satisfied I felt; that book connected with me on a personal level but also taught me new ideas and challenged my perceptions. It made me feel smarter for having read it, and the best part of non-fiction is always learning more about the world.

In my excitement I begged my librarians to please get Big Girls Don't Cry. I thought I'd be too emotionally raw to get through this book -- and I
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nicole
This book was great! Did I love every word? No. But there was so much I DID love that I can overlook some things.

This was a book about the 2008 presidential election with lots of analysis of the sexism that went down. But really, it was about Hillary Clinton.

I learned a lot about Hillary. I learned that, before she was the First Lady, she was a super progressive politician and stood for a lot of things that I feel strongly about. Had I known that, maybe I would have supported her more in the pri
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
An at-times muddled, at-times searing take on the 2008 US election, and what it meant for the ladies.

I picked this up on a party acquaintance's (?) recommendation, since I was seeking books through which I could dispense some of my #ImWithHer energy/zeal. Basically, I wanted a Hillary bio. This isn't a Hillary bio, so much as a broad overview of what the 2008 political stage looked like: Hillary, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow.

In a way, this book is ef
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really appreciated this book. Its prose and research is nothing extraordinary, yet, it brought back an exciting time in my young political life when women and the nation as a whole confronted the dilemmas of our first viable female presidential candidate. I was an early Hillary supporter, while my mother, author of "Courage and Cloth" a book on women's suffrage, broke for Obama.

I don't recall much of the sexism and arrogance Traister rakes up here, but such muck was certainly out there. It's e
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, feminism
An engaging and highly relevant feminist look at the 2008 election. Traister brings her trademark perception and insight into the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, as well as the supporting roles played by Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama. The chapters about Clinton, in particular, are striking in how little has changed between what Traister reported about 2008 and what we are seeing in 2016. On that note, however, the chapters on Palin hold up less well; Big Girls Don't Cry was ...more
This was fascinating! I can't believe I'm even saying this, but I was completely engrossed in this book. There is no way I would have read this if I hadn't been forced to in a challenge, but I really thought that this was fantastic.

I've never really defined myself as a "feminist". I've always believed what I believed but never put a name on it. But listening to this audiobook has me wanting to look a little more closely at that. I also appreciate that feminist is not a "dirty" word no matter how
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible book--an essential read as we head into the 2016 general election with Hillary Rodham (say it with me!) Clinton as the Democratic nominee. If you're at all interested in women and politics, I'd recommend it. Traister is sensitive to all the nuances of the 2008 election--intersectional feminism, second vs. third-wave feminist generational gaps, sexism, racism, etc.--and even manages to make me feel a *teeeny* bit chagrined about how gleefully I've mocked Sarah Palin's Alaska Hockey Mom ...more
Kristina Godfrey
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This book can be a bit overly packed with feminista blogging info and statistics, even for those of us who believe in feminist issues. However, I got very FIRED up reading this retake on the 2008 election and the heavily sexist slamming of Hillary Clinton... and yes, even Sarah Palin. Lots of facts/details of media coverage of Obama and Clinton point out how we still have a long way to go to accept female presidential candidates. Let's just say I'm ready for Hillary to run again! Moreover, it's ...more
Oct 28, 2016 added it
This was actually a really difficult book for me to read in the context of the 2016 presidential campaign, even though it is about the 2008 election -- and primarily about the Democratic primary contest between Clinton and Obama. A lot of the pain and anger, sexism and racism that reared its head in the 2008 election cycle has been on simmer the past eight years before returning to full boil this summer/fall. And it was just really, really hard to read about how things played out and how little ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one the best books I have ever read on the intersectionality of gender and politics in American society. Traister encompasses racial tension, class conflict, generational communication, and just about everything else you can think of to convey her thoughts on the fascinating election in 2008. It perfectly encompasses all that I felt as I worked on Hillary's campaign - from my frustration with people like Penn to my fury at the misogynistic press and punditry, and from my jubilation durin ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book... and I don't read a lot of non-fiction. Featuring Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Elizabeth Edwards, and Michelle Obama, with nods to Tina Fey and Rachel Maddow among others, Ms. Traister discusses the role of women in the 2008 primaries and presidential election. Her own reactions to how the media portrayed women during this year-long event resonated strongly with me, especially since I see similar dynamics playing out now, in 2016. This is a smart, engaging look at w ...more
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Rebecca Traister writes about politics and gender for Salon, and has contributed to the New York Observer, Elle, the New York Times, Vogue, the Nation and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband.

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