Past Selections for Feminism in Hardcover
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl asserts the powerful observations of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.
Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this "feminine" weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire.
In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activists must work to embrace and empower femininity. This book should appeal to those with an interest in gender studies, as well as to anyone who ever wondered why feminism sees femininity as a problem.
Kissing Dead Girls is a kisstorical romangling that investigates myth, history, gender and states of being. Beginning with the province of legend, "Kissing Dead Girls" uses poetic inappropriacies to touch historical paragons and examine what touches us in them in vignettes casting the narrator as the lover of Josephine Baker, Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, Frida Kahlo, Jonbenet Ramsey, Sharon Tate and Karen Carpenter. The "real" world fuses with the mundane as a liver is received in the mail by an unexpecting recipient; a woman replaces the moon with her heart; and a man finds himself a woman too dead to love. Gertrude Stein's work is co-opted and re-seen in an attempt to unpack the relationship between love and war; Walt Whitman makes a command performance in dismembered bits of forced formal verse; and "The Exorcist" and "The Devil in Miss Jones" are sutured together in an attempt to locate the true horror of desire. These poems and stories reach off the page in search of what it is to be known, both to the masses and to the Other, even just one.
In this memoir about being married to a transgender partner—a topic some people might find difficult to relate to—Helen Boyd takes the reader on a surprising journey into self-reflection about the limits that traditional gender roles place on us all. Her inquiries into contemporary feminist gender theory are both groundbreaking and accessible.
“Like a tightrope walker, Helen Boyd performs several amazing feats simultaneously in her impressive book,She’s Not the Man I Married. She provides a postmodern reflection on transness; she writes a feminist critique of gender and culture. Above all, she gives her readers a sense of the deep love she shares with her husband Betty, a love we see in all its complex, messy wonder. Through its author’s honest, lucid prose, She’s Not the Man I Married is brilliant, unsettling, and sweet.”
- Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders
Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World by Linda Hirshman.
Linda Hirshman is a retired philosophy professor, and her new book has generated rich discussion, tense debate, and even outrage from some sectors of society. She argues, in the tradition of Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique, that women have a moral imperative to be part of the working world instead of "opting out" of the work world in order to stay home and raise their children. You may agree or disagree with her, but one thing is certain: her book will provoke strong reactions in you, one way or another. The debate over "women's work" continues to be a central concern of contemporary feminism, and I invite you to join in the conversation.
The Spring 2007 selection for Feminism in Hardcover was a memoir by Nancy Venable Raine called After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back. It was chosen for its incredibly smart and theoretically informed reflections on sexual assault and because of its critically acclaimed literary quality. The focus of the book is on the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome that the author experiences after the assault, the cultural pressures to suppress the story of trauma, and the uses and limitations of existing feminist discourse on rape.
Two discussion dates were held, and there were approximately 20 participants.
“A book that dignifies the human spirit. It should be read by everyone.” -The New York Times Book Review
Email Dr. Lisa Johnson for more information.