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review 2018-01-05 23:42
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich

Lynn Povich was one of the women involved in the two class action lawsuits that occurred in the early days of the second wave feminist movement. She was a researcher, a reporter, a writer, and moved all the way up to the number 3 spot as an editor. She recounts the story in vivid detail, sometimes a little too gossipy. Katherine Graham might seem like a publishing titan today, but back when she first took over The Post Company (Newsweek was owned by the same owners as the Washington Post), she was just oblivious to how to run, react, and diffuse conflict. She came across as really dim-witted heiress.


The women who joined Povich in the lawsuits get good page time, along with their bad ass lawyers; first was Eleanor Holmes Norton, then assistant director over at the ACLU. When the Newsweek women needing mentoring, she was their number one coach. When the women needed a kick in the pants, she was the star kicker. The second lawyer was Harriett S. Rabb; she was a dog with a bone when it came to holding Newsweek's feet to the fire.


The book was very much to the point of who, why, and when, which is not surprising since Povich is a reporter at heart; the NOOK edition I read was 205 pages. There is context as background and how the lawsuits fit in the bigger narrative of the revolutionary 1960s and early 1970s. She does address race and that the black researchers were asked to join the lawsuit but they had declined and she gave reasons why they declined. I like the way Povich also spotlights the women working at Newsweek today (Newsweek is now a joint publication with The Daily Beast) and their efforts to fight back on discrimination that is still on-going at Newsweek.  


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-04-07 23:00
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Yellow Wallpaper (MP3 Book) - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Jo Myddleton

Let me begin by saying that this is a simple story told in a mesmerizing fashion. I loved every minute of it. I found the protagonist relatable and interesting, her preoccupation with the wallpaper pulled me in and then held me in that room with her. At under 100 pages, this story was perfect in a rare way. It never felt like it was dragging on but no aspect of the story was dismissed or glossed over. 

This is actually one of my Read Harder books and would have qualified for a protagonist with mental illness and probably historical fiction as well as with the page count. I don't think I would have found it had I not been looking for books for the challenge, which makes me that much happier to have decided to do it.

I had no idea when I chose it that this was actually a feminist story told by a prominent nineteenth century feminist. When I discovered that, I went ahead and listened to it again. There are some definite feminist moments and admissions. That her husband makes all these decisions without her consent and without even asking her what she wants is indicative of the issues it sought to address. It could be said to have been allegorical to the oppression that women were suffering at the time. Aside from the possible allegory, the protagonist has a real problem. The reason our protagonist is even in that room is particular to women and one that is still often treated in the US today. Fortunately, today's treatments seem to work better than those of Gilman's time. They are at least more humane than being locked up in a sanitarium, which is the likely fate that our protagonist was to endure since she continued to decline from what sounds like post-partum depression from the inadequacy of her treatment. 

Altogether, this was a great little book that tells relays a lot more about the struggles of women in it's time than what the wallpaper looked like. 

Have you read The Yellow Wallpaper? What did you think? 

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review 2014-02-22 01:15
Barbie: The Front Window
The Front Window - Claire Jordan,Della Foster

Barbie has gotten a lot of flack over the years. She's been accused of causing anorexia, promoting vapid materialism, and reinforcing gender stereotypes. If you're on board with that and genuinely believe that Barbie is going to have such a negative influence on your children that you simply can't bear to associate with the brand, this book is obviously not for you. Personally, I think that's a shame. Even if you aren't a strident member of the cult of Barbie, The Front Window is a pretty great book for introducing young children to feminism.

Over the years, Barbie dolls have been produced that presented the characters as a teacher of American Sign Language, an American football coach, a surgeon, a paratrooper, the United States president, an astronaut, a NASCAR driver, and many, many other careers ranging from traditionally feminine roles to ones that break gender barriers. Here, Barbie becomes an even more impressive feminist icon: an 1800's crusader for women's right to vote.

In the story, Barbie's teenage sister, Skipper, is working on her school's paper with Becky, the paper's wheelchair-bound adviser. When she's tasked with writing a story on "women in business", she's disappointed; businesswomen are old news. What's interesting about women running businesses? But her research leads her to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and their paper, The Revolution. And she discovers that back in the late 1800's, Susan B. Anthony even made a visit to Skipper's town!

From there, she learns the story of The Front Window, a short-lived feminist newspaper run by a local female dress shop owner upset with the mainstream local newspaper's refusal to write about Anthony and her beliefs. So when she drifts off to sleep in the library, what could she possibly dream about but the story of The Front Window?

What The Front Window--the book, that is--boils down to is an All Just a Dream historical fiction story that casts Barbie as a women's rights crusader in an attempt to teach children about the women's suffrage movement and the prejudice women faced in the 1800s.

I highly recommend the book to Barbie fans, though sensitive children unfamiliar with the concept of sexism might be more upset than educated. For those children that can handle the subject matter, I would advise complementing this with some nonfiction about the women's suffrage movement, as it doesn't cover a ton of actual history; it also fails to address modern sexism, leaving a younger reader with the impression that there's no such thing. If you feel your child's old enough to be introduced to that particular issue, you might want to look into following this up with some books addressing second-wave and modern feminism. Unfortunately, I haven't read much on the subject and can't recommend anything in particular.

Also, be sure to check out other Barbie books in this series, if you enjoy this one. They're adorable, fun, and often educational; great reading for young children.

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review 2007-06-01 00:00
Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It in a Box
Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It in a Box - Merri Lisa Johnson Merri Lisa Johnson's collection, Third Wave Feminism and Television uses contemporary television as a lens through which to view a variety of issues ranging from S/M practices to prisoner rape within a third wave framework. The essay most emblematic of this approach is the final one, Leslie Heywood's incredibly insightful "'The Room' as 'Heterosexual Closet': The Life and Death of Alternative Relationships on Six Feet Under." In it, Heywood uses Six Feet Under's Nate as an example of "queer heterosexuality" and through him discusses twentieth century constructions of masculinity and the relationship those ideals and the way heteronormativity has failed some straight people.

This conceit of examining focus points of feminist discussion through television isn't quite as effective in every essay, however. Carol Siegel's "Female Heterosexual Sadism: The Feminist Taboo in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series" is based on the premise that Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer judges the main character unfairly for her forays into an S/M relationship with Spike, a vampire, while the Anita Blake series looks more kindly on these types of encounters. Unfortunately, Siegel's take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer ignores the incredibly complicated texture of the relationship between Buffy and her vampire lover by completely decontextualizing just three episodes from the series' seven season run.

The rest of the essays find interesting ways to connect the cultural work of television to feminist reflections on the world. Katherine Frank uses The Bachelor to question ideas of romance and monogamy, Bobby Noble finds moments of female masculinity through a trans-ed reading of Queer as Folk, Lara Stemple breaks open the depiction of prison rape on Oz, Candace Moore continues Laura Mulvey's work in an examination of perspective on The L Word and Johnson herself looks at the intersection of class and gender on The Sopranos.

While Third Wave Feminism and Television is too academic make it a must-have for every casual TV viewer, for anyone interested in a close reading of contemporary television from a feminist standpoint, this collection of essays is a perfect addition to your bookshelf.
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