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THINK LIKE A FEMINIST

THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE REVOLUTION

A lively compendium of what Gloria Steinem didn’t tell you about feminist ideas and why they matter.

How—and why—do young feminists’ goals differ from those of their mothers and grandmothers? A philosophy professor has answers.

Despite its title, this energetic overview of several centuries of feminist thought offers few self-help tips until, late in the book, Hay suggests ways to deal with annoyances like “manspreading” and “mansplaining.” Instead, with a winning mix of scholarship and irreverence, the author lays out the philosophical underpinnings of feminism and how they have evolved through three waves: the first focused on female suffrage, the second on political and legal goals, and the third on the intersection of sexism and injustices such as “racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, or transphobia.” Hay traces women’s oppression partly to the unequal results of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden: Adam simply “gets kicked out of his parents’ basement and told he has to grow up and get a job” while Eve and her descendants were thrown “under a bus.” The author also shows the clashing responses that women’s predicaments have inspired in fervent theorists and activists—e.g., Aristotle and John Stuart Mill, “Angry Feminists” and “Girl Power Feminists,” “trans-inclusive feminists” and “trans-exclusionary radical feminists.” Hay doesn’t mention Gloria Steinem but sums up the impact of many other signal figures, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Audre Lorde, Susan Brownmiller, Shulamith Firestone, and Kimberlé Crenshaw. Hay’s approach has its limits: Focused on theories born in capitalist economies, she takes too little note of the ideas of feminists outside North America whose support for socialist programs has helped their democracies race past the U.S. and Canada in achieving widely shared goals such as paid parental leave. Still, this book speaks to second- and third-wavers alike and could build worthy intergenerational bridges.

A lively compendium of what Gloria Steinem didn’t tell you about feminist ideas and why they matter.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00309-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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