Go Fug Yourself Book Club discussion

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman
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Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
I thought this was a very good piece of feminist cultural criticism.

This is a genre I read little of because I find most often it is ridiculously obvious and/or merely unsupported opinion rants. (See, eg Bad Feminist.) These essays are neither. They do something I really like in my criticism; these essays call me on my shit. And because they are well supported, I can't rationalize my way out of that. Reading this I was made to see that things I was doing were in fact anti-woman, and I need to do better. These are bitter realizations for this Women's Studies minor who has continued to read in the area in the many years since graduation.

That is not to say I agree with every conclusion here. This is commentary, not algebra; there are no absolutely right answers. Regardless though of whether you agree with Peterson, you can't just dismiss this because she makes cogent well-supported arguments. I will mention too that Peterson lets you know why these things really matter, and I think that is very helpful for many who do not generally see how individual events impact what comes next.

I am predisposed to like the author because she convinced UT to give her a PhD in celebrity gossip. But I am also predisposed to not like her for her mean-spirited and often unnecessary "think pieces" in Buzzfeed. So with that conflict as a foundation I read this and gave it 4 stars. I would have given it 4.5 if that was an option. It was not perfect. But it is necessary reading.


Alicia | 331 comments I'm still reading! But liking it so far.


message 3: by Suzy (last edited Apr 02, 2018 12:32PM) (new)

Suzy D. I really enjoyed this read, it was scholarly and thoughtful while never becoming stodgy. It helped clarify lots of things I'd been thinking and reading - particularly since the US Presidential Election - but being a UK reader I had to look up a few things - Broad City for one, and Minaj and Dunham are a bit out of my age range, but I'm learning!

For that alone I'd give the book top marks, because I feel it expanded my brain and sent me off in lots of directions, making me question, think, research, agree, disagree and understand. What more can you ask?


Kris | 252 comments Mod
I just finished this last chapter on Lena Dunham a little bit ago and just wrote this review, which I will cut and paste here:

Having just finished Small, Great Things, this book was further message to me of just how important it is to really inspect my motivations and my actions in daily life. If I know better, I can do better.

I don't generally read "feminist" anything - I mean, I read my fair share of books on my own, but most of them are fiction, and vary in "importance." In my two book clubs, we tend to pick books with some heft, so I am appreciative of that.

This books reads like a PhD thesis to me, and that is not, in this case, a criticism. I thoroughly enjoyed that each chapter gave me much to ponder - and thoroughly challenged my preconceived notions on each individual and what the author posits as her rationale for her status as "unruly."

Apart from one chapter where I was completely unfamiliar with the subjects (Jacobson & Glazer), I found myself feeling feelings that were both surprising and challenging. I did NOT start the book by reading the table of contents, which I think was very helpful. I had no idea what or who was next. This helped me to set the book down and digest what I had read as I progressed.

Much to my surprise, the chapter I had the greatest reactions to was Kim K. I will go on record as never clicking on the Kardashian posts on GFY, as I am repelled by them for many reasons, not the least of which is that I feel they deserve the criticism they receive... or at least I thought that until I read the chapter on Too Pregnant. I actually felt a surprising compassion for Kim welling up in me. For the first time, I understood how the desire to control every aspect of what is consumed by the public would be devastated/crushed by a body out of control through pregnancy. And that the ideal of the perfect pregnancy is so hindering to women - and that also follows with the ideal of the perfect mommy vs post partum realities.

The chapters on Serena Williams, Nikki Minaj, Madonna, and Jennifer Weiner were also really enlightening. Highly provocative stuff there.

I have recommended this book to pretty much everyone. I'd call it "important" in the vein of starter books on feminism, maybe. If you don't read feminist literature, it's probably a good place to start broadening your horizons.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
I was also very effected by the Kim K and Nikki essays. I had to face that I am part of the problem. I have never seen an episode of any show in the Land of KardashiJenner, but I have been loudly critical of Kim for stuffing 20 pounds of flour into a 5 pound sack, and of others for similar choices. And while criticizing that I have never asked the question, "Why am i vilifying someone for failing to meet my standard of feminine beauty or propriety? Why does it matter to me?" When I do ask that question I realize that I think that well-known women who walk around exemplifying the "too slutty" category reflect on and limit other women BUT I also realize that is not okay. I should be attacking that fallacy. Kim or Nikki walking around busting out of their clothes should not reflect on me. The fact that women are not considered and judged based on their own individual actions and merits and in the proper context for that consideration (ie, job performance at work, talent in performances, taste at fashion events, general human kindness and citizenship in life) is the problem, not Kim. If a white man walks around with his his butt hanging out we don't see that as saying anything about men in general. By making all women feel that all other women reflect on them we create a culture of censure rather than support and until women change that culture and support one another's choices we will never crush the patriarchy. So obvious! And yet I never fully thought it through until I read this book. I find Kim's aesthetic ugly, I can say so and say why, but that is the end of that. Kim's flesh colored turtleneck says nothing about her other than that she has a different aesthetic than I do and it says nothing at all about me or any other woman. That is what I meant when I said these essays called me on my shit. Every essay made me consider what I was doing wrong and what I needed to change to be a feminist worth that label.

Also, y'all should watch an episode or more of Broad City. My son has loved it since he was in middle school (when it was a web series), so I have seen many episodes (yes, I am a bad mother, this was totally inappropriate for him but he is 19 now so that horse has left the barn.) A lot of the humor is very broad (the title is a pun in a few ways) and not my thing, but it makes me challenge a lot of assumptions. The laziness, low-level dishonesty, avoidance of commitment, promiscuity, and general filth would not raise an eyebrow if the show was about two 20-something males. Also, many of the shows are incredibly funny, if revolting. The one where Abbi poops at the Whole Foods is genius and any time Susie Essman shows up as Ilana's mother I laugh myself silly but the one where they go in search of the best knock off handbags is genius.


Kris | 252 comments Mod
Bonnie wrote: "By making all women feel that all other women reflect on them we create a culture of censure rather than support and until women change that culture and support one another's choices we will never crush the patriarchy. So obvious! And yet I never fully thought it through until I read this book. I find Kim's aesthetic ugly, I can say so and say why, but that is the end of that. Kim's flesh colored turtleneck says nothing about her other than that she has a different aesthetic than I do and it says nothing at all about me or any other woman. That is what I meant when I said these essays called me on my shit. Every essay made me consider what I was doing wrong and what I needed to change to be a feminist worth that label."

Yes, this exactly.

The chapter on Lena, particularly, called me on my BS narrative about "we don't need to see that in public," - and for me that can apply to amount of skin and fat, and perceived sexuality therein. I really appreciated the nuance of naked vs nude. How have I never realized that?

Both Small, Great Things and this book pushed me to examine my biases, and for that, I am grateful.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
Kris wrote: "Bonnie wrote: "By making all women feel that all other women reflect on them we create a culture of censure rather than support and until women change that culture and support one another's choices..."

I read this a while ago and forgot about the Lena Dunham section. And yes, the naked vs. nude things also rocked my world a bit. The consternation over Lena Dunham's nudity is so disturbing to me. There was plenty of nudity to be found on cable, well before Lena Dunham ever stripped down, and there was nary a peep. I mean, True Blood was practically porn? But one woman whose body does not represent the Maxim ideal (and seriously many bodies, my own middle aged one included, are farther from that ideal than is Lena Dunham's) strips down and people lose their minds.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy (xj2608) I'm very glad to be able to read along with this discussion, because I couldn't get past the introduction. I had forgotten that this was a book club read, or I would have pushed myself to get further into the book. Clearly, there is value to be found, so thanks to you all for bringing it here!


message 9: by Gigi (new)

Gigi | 30 comments I liked this book much more than I thought I would. I would never have picked it up if not for this group.
I adore The Broad City gals and Melissa McCarthy, so it was interesting to see the author's take on how they are represented, dissected and discussed in the media and public opinion.
It was hard to read again and again how much emphasis is put on the way women "should" act and look and behave in the world, but is a topic that needs to be addressed so woman can feel empowered to move forward and focus on what they care about, even if it is how they look! Just as long as it is their choice.
The book had a great play between pop culture and academic/research that made it enjoyable to read.
I have to admit, I do not generally care for Lena Dunham, (not because of the nudity, I appreciate that she is pushing this boundary; there are only things that would be off-topic for this discussion) so I did not read her section. You all are convincing me to read it.


message 10: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris | 252 comments Mod
Gigi, I would definitely recommend reading Lena's chapter. As I said above, I was not terribly inclined to read the KK chapter, and I came away with compassion, which was completely, and I mean COMPLETELY unexpected.

I meant to bring up something in my review... the author's use of the noun "abjection." Reading that word repeatedly felt a little awkward to me. I have used the adjective "abject" - abject horror, abject poverty - but I have never used in a sentence the word "abjection." Was that a stumbling block for anyone else?


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
Gigi wrote: "I liked this book much more than I thought I would. I would never have picked it up if not for this group.
I adore The Broad City gals and Melissa McCarthy, so it was interesting to see the author'..."


I join wiht Kris in recommending the Lena Dunham chapter, Gigi. I have very mixed feelings about Lena. I liked and admired Girls, but I didn't love it and was bothered by the level of self-absorption hinted at by the scripts. That said, I think she has the makings of a compelling artist, and will grow up into a generally good person if she decides to examine her subtle racism and her unsubtle classism. Like Kris, I am no fan of the KardashiJenners, but I read the Kim K chapter and it helped me examine some class issues of my own.

I read the book a few months back, so I may have forgotten, but I have no recollection of having and issue with the word. I do like when people use little used words effectively. I used "gormless" today, and I feel like a boss!


message 12: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris | 252 comments Mod
Bonnie wrote: "I used "gormless" today, and I feel like a boss! "

How very British of you! I'm sure GFY Heather would be very proud! LOL!


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
Kris wrote: "Bonnie wrote: "I used "gormless" today, and I feel like a boss! "

How very British of you! I'm sure GFY Heather would be very proud! LOL!"


LOL, I would be flattered if she was.


Alicia | 331 comments The Jennifer Weiner chapter was interesting - particularly since I witnessed some bloke mansplaining to Joanne Harris on twitter about how she was entirely wrong about the publishing industry giving different treatment to men and women and if her publishers didn't give her big marketing budgets it was because her books aren't very good.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
If you have not read this, you really must (and not just because Jenneifer Weiner's response is genius) https://electricliterature.com/descri...


Alicia | 331 comments The bit in the Lena Dunham chapter about the difference between naked and nude reminds me of the Lucian Freud painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping http://www.artnewsblog.com/wp-content... - he copped a lot of similar flak for painting a fat naked woman and not making it prettier.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "The bit in the Lena Dunham chapter about the difference between naked and nude reminds me of the Lucian Freud painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping http://www.artnewsblog.com/wp-content......"

This made me remember this review of Jemima Kirke's art where she is compared to Lucian Freud. I think you tapped into a particular Girls aesthetic https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/0...


Hattie | 5 comments How is Caitlyn Jenner a republican? WTF is that nonsense?


message 19: by Bonnie G. (last edited Apr 11, 2018 07:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
She has been very public about it. She was photographed wearing a Make America Great Again hat during the campaign.


Alicia | 331 comments She was surprised when he turned out to be a disaster for LGBT+ rights https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-o... - I really don't think she is the brains in that family.


Alicia | 331 comments Bonnie wrote: "Alicia wrote: "The bit in the Lena Dunham chapter about the difference between naked and nude reminds me of the Lucian Freud painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping http://www.artnewsblog.com/wp-cont..."

Huh. I've never seen an episode of girls and I am not particularly knowledgeable about art, so that is a major fluke.


Hattie | 5 comments Alicia wrote: "She was surprised when he turned out to be a disaster for LGBT+ rights https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-o... - I rea..."

And just a huge disappointment as a human. I didn't expect her to change everyone's minds or to become a symbol for pride, but to actually support Trump et al? That's messed up.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1296 comments Mod
Hattie wrote: "Alicia wrote: "She was surprised when he turned out to be a disaster for LGBT+ rights https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-o...-..."

LOL'ed at Alicia's comments. She is most definitely not the brains in the family, and its not like there are a lot of Nobel Laureates at that dinner table. That said, before he became this particular iteration of DJT, The Donald publicly supported LTBTQ+ rights (though he was never a trailblazer.) He was also pro-choice. Since she does not appear to be a great judge of character (or really a person with character) she could have been confused.


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