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review 2018-12-16 01:38
Faking It by Lux Alptraum
Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex--And the Truths They Reveal - Lux Alptraum

I've already returned this book to the library, so I'm going to have to rely on my memory for what to say about it. Lux Alptraum is someone I follow on twitter and when I found out that my library had a copy of the book she had just written I basically jumped at the chance to read it. 


Alptraum explains that part of reason for writing this book was looking at the reasons for the reactions to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (I'll confess I'm tired and I drew a blank at his name for a couple seconds and almost called him Orange-Face) during the lead-up to the last US Presidential election. She doesn't spend her time dissecting the election though, fortunately, and mostly looks at what kinds of lies women are known for telling, the statistics of those kinds of lies for both women and men, and the reasons for which women (and men) might lie, particularly about sex and relationships.


Some of it I had seen before in different packages but there was enough of a different perspective that I found the book enlightening, particularly with regards to the urban design of cities being geared towards the commuting man and how women in public can be seen as trespassing into men's sphere (because of the archaic notion that her place is in the home) by simply going out into to public and thus be assumed to be fair game to any man who decides to approach her. This explains a lot about some of my personal experiences with being approached in public places; I mean, I've been interrupted in the park while listening to an audiobook and trying to enjoy the sun. Sure, these notions are out-dated, but Alptraum points out that men's viewpoints on these things haven't changed nearly as quickly as women's.


There was one point where I was rather frustrated by this dating consultant that Alptraum interviewed who insisted that what women wanted was a confident man and basically completely dismissed her initial response to his question (when asked what women wanted in a man, she suggested a good conversationalist, I think) because it didn't fit his world view. It was kinda funny, in sad way. Anyway, just in case any guys are reading this who are actually willing to listen to me, don't listen to those people (mostly men, let's be honest) who claim that what women want is a confident man who will sweep her off her feet when he takes up her time without permission. Just don't. Be an adult and be respectful of women's time. We're not giving strangers permission to walk up to us just because we're in a public space (there is an exception of course for social events where it is a reasonable social proposition to walk up to relative strangers, but don't be jerks about it).




Previous updates:

126 of 218 pages

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text 2018-12-14 04:17
Reading progress update: I've read 126 out of 218 pages.
Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex--And the Truths They Reveal - Lux Alptraum

There are lots of bits that I've wanted to quote throughout this book but it's been hard because of lot of the text loses its impact without all of the surrounding text, but I found this bit particularly interesting, so I decided to quote a long bit.


It may seem odd to position the street—or bars, or public transportation, or any public environment that, in the most literal of all senses, the infrastructures of our cities were explicitly designed for men. In a 1980 essay title "What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work," Dolores Hayden opens by remarking that "'A Woman's place is in the home' has been one of the most important principles of architectural design and urban planning in the United States for the last century." Though Hayden is largely preoccupied with looking at how urban design and zoning have helped to keep women out of the workforce and in the kitchen, there's an unspoken inverse to her argument. If private spaces are the domain of women, then public spaces are the domain of men—and any woman who ventures into a male domain must, on some level, be interested in or even explicitly asking for male attention.


Early saloons often banned women, many public transportation systems were initially designed with commuting men in mind, and, of course, the idea that a woman traveling unaccompanied is not merely acceptable but unremarkable is a relatively new one within American culture. So many of the spaces we currently see as open to all genders were not originally fashioned that way—and it shouldn't come as a surprise that women are, as a result, often treated more like an invasive species or a form of entertainment than native inhabitants who have as much right to take up space as their male counterparts do.


"Women's attitudes [about] being in public spaces have shifted much more quickly than a lot of straight men are able to understand or even acknowledge," Roy notes. A number of studies have backed up this assertion: young men consistently lag behind their female peers when it comes to attitudes about the role of women in the workplace and the domestic sphere. Millennial men are still uncomfortable with the idea of female leaders, still assume that women should do the majority of domestic labor, and, most disappointingly, are the group most likely to say that feminist progress has gone far enough. This disparity creates a stunning clash in gendered expectations: women my age grew up with the promise that we could be anyone, or anything, we desired, while our male peers were still raised to expect the same degree of privilege, power, and female submission they'd always been afforded. As a result, women enter the adult world and are shocked to discover that it hasn't quite adapted to accommodate their full personhood—and men are shocked, and sometimes angered, to discover women don't want to accommodate their desires.

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review 2018-12-10 01:36
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns (nonfiction graphic novel) by Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns - Archie Bongiovanni,Tristan Jimerson

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is a 60-page guide, in comic form, to using singular they/them pronouns, including how to handle it if you mess up, a script for introducing yourself with your pronouns and asking others for theirs, ideas for trying to move away from gendered language in your workplace, and more. Archie Bongiovanni identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, while Tristan Jimerson identifies as male and uses he/him pronouns, so the work includes a couple different perspectives.

I had seen a bunch of mentions of this online and picked it up thinking that it would primarily be an introduction to they/them pronouns geared towards employers and employees. It can function that way, and from that perspective, I particularly liked the last few pages (quick and easy pronoun reference chart, scripts for asking about someone's pronouns and what to say when you mess up someone's pronouns, quick and easy ideas for using gender neutral language). They sum things up nicely and could serve as handouts in trainings.

I also liked the idea about group leaders starting things off by having everyone introduce themselves with their names and pronouns, and Jimerson's section about trying to train himself out of using gendered language in his workplace (he runs a small restaurant) made me realize there's a lot more to it than pronouns. For example, employees will often refer to customers as Sir or Ma'am, something that, in my area, would be culturally ingrained as well.

About two thirds of the book was geared towards folks who probably don't use they/them pronouns and may be trying to incorporate them into their language. The other third was geared more towards non-binary readers - basically advice and pep talks about dealing with people who've never used singular they and didn't even know it was a thing, and people who aren't fully supportive or who are consistently rude or awful.

There was one part of the book that gave me pause. In the section on how to find out someone's pronouns, the authors provide one sample script and then include a couple questions not to ask. One of those questions is "What pronouns do you prefer?" because "By using the word 'prefer,' you're suggesting that gender is a preference" (29). Although gender is not a preference, there are enough pronoun options that I don't think it's out of line to consider pronouns a preference.

Overall, it's a nice little guide, but the title really means it when it says it's quick. It doesn't dig very deeply into any of the topics it covers, and it doesn't point readers to any particular more in-depth resources (no "Recommended Resources" section).


Rating Note:


I debated over whether to give this 3.5 stars or 4. I settled on 3.5 stars because there were times when a few more pages of info would have been nice, even considering that this was written to be a quick guide. At the very least a "recommended reading" section should have been included.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-10-30 02:34
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Really I don't have any interest in talking about race. What I want is to be a better human in a way that is helpful to other human beings. Oluo is someone I follow on Twitter. Her writing is wonderfully clear and straightforward and also surprisingly kind.  But so practical! Mostly I try to avoid ever talking to anyone about anything, but this book lays out for me concrete times and places and ways to use my privilege to benefit others. Surprisingly kind because withstanding a lifetime of abuse by society should enrage everyone. Our culture is cruel and dehumanizing and grossly unfair, and some days it is all I can do not to run screaming. This is what we have made and it is awful and cruel and murderous. It is prejudiced and short sighted and stupid and it is only the astounding grace and kindness of individuals in the worst moments that make it worthwhile.

I want to make life easier and better and more just for everyone and I thank Oluo for taking the time to share her wisdom and determination and to encourage me forward in the light. Right now feels very dark, so I am grateful to all those who can show me a way forward and give me hope not just that we can do better, but that we will rise up and choose to do better. Sometimes just looking after those closest to me is all I can manage and not even do that well. But more often I can listen, and learn, and witness, and maybe, just a little more, I can speak. And remember, every day that humankind is my business.


Library copy

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review 2018-09-24 10:01
She Wants It
She Wants It - Jill Soloway

[I received a copy of this book through the First To Read program, in exchange for an honest review.]

I had only watched the first season of “Transparent” before, but I guess I knew enough then to recognise the author’s name, and be interested in the book’s premise. As a word of warning, though, if you’re in the same case… uh, the book contains spoilers as to the next seasons. I wasn’t too happy about that, especially since I had been able to avoid them so far. Or maybe it was just unavoidable for starters?

It’s also different from what I had expected, that is to say, more of a memoir, and not exactly “essays” or more structured writing about feminism, being non-binary, questioning, and so on. As such, while it remained interesting, spoilers notwithstanding, it felt kind of disjointed in places, and at the end, I felt like it hadn’t gone in depth into anything.

The last part about Me Too and people coming out about Tambor was also… well, it played straight into the unfortunately usual “she came out about this and now the actor/the show is going to be ruined, we should’ve talked about this among ourselves only and seen where to go from there”. Soloway does acknowledge that it’s wrong, but it still felt like there was much more to say here, and it was brushed over. It’s not on the same level as powerful men paying women they have abused so that they keep silent, but the feeling remains somewhat similar nonetheless, like an afterthought, like something that was mentioned at the end only so that people wouldn’t dwell on it too much. I didn’t like that.

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