FEMINIST CITY

CLAIMING SPACE IN A MAN-MADE WORLD

A timely, thought-provoking study.

A Canadian professor of geography explores the gendered nature of urban environments and how those environments inform social relationships.

Whether it is through skyscrapers that glorify patriarchal “corporate economic power” or guidelines for wind effects that use bodily dimensions corresponding to “an adult male,” cities are made to the measure of men. Drawing on feminist, geographical, and sociological studies along with her own experiences as an urban woman, Kern explores how cities impact female bodies. Her own awareness of how gender impacted urban spaces came into clear focus during pregnancy. “People read my protruding belly as if it said, ‘rub here please!’ ” Even after her baby was born, the author found that many urban spaces made her feel unable to juggle the demands of child care, paid employment, and school. In considering women’s relationships with each other, she discusses how cities disrupt networking possibilities for low-income and other marginalized women through the destruction of social housing projects. Kern does point out that being alone in an urban environment can also offer many pleasures, but those pleasures are harder to come by for women because they must always contend with the fact that they are always “fair game for harassment and even violence.” Activism and protest can connect women to cities in significant ways, but protests that claim to be women-only spaces need to take into account the way they “reproduce systems of privilege and oppression,” especially where trans or disabled women are concerned. In the process of creating safe cities, the author further observes that urban revitalization programs that help women tend to make cities less safe for other marginalized groups. Visionary, intelligent, and humane, this book offers intersectional insights into the gendered nature of the modern city to promote “living more justly in an urban world.”

A timely, thought-provoking study.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78873-981-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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

BLACK LOVE LETTERS

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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