Written by Lucile De Pesloüan; Illustrations by Genevieve Darling
Review by Tess Tabak
What Makes Girls Sick and Tired is a new picture book intended to introduce young adults to basic feminism. It’s essentially an illustrated list of challenges women and girls around the world face. The author, Lucile De Pesloüan, cuts straight to the heart of feminist issues: “Girls are sick and tired because women’s bodies are always an issue, whether they are covered by yards of fabric or completely revealed.”
While the issues discussed are for the most part real concerns, it’s hard to imagine an audience for this book. Almost none of the statements are backed up with any examples or evidence (a handful contain footnotes with sources). If you’re already familiar with basic feminism, this book offers nothing more than a list of things you likely already know, written in a fairly repetitive way (every sentence contains some permutation of “girls are sick and tired”). On the other hand if you haven’t been exposed to feminist ideology, the book doesn’t really offer enough on its own. A reader would have to be curious enough to look up other sources, at which point, why not just read a more thorough text to start with?
Review by Tess Tabak
In this volume, Andrea Warner paints a heartbreaking-yet-inspiring picture of Buffy Sainte Marie, the folk rock legend who’s mostly been erased from music history. Blacklisted by two US presidents, Buffy was an outspoken woman of color, and an activist, exactly the type of person that gets willfully forgotten.
When my baby boomer aunt saw this book, her face lit up. “I love Buffy!” she said. “Whatever happened to her?”
This book answers that question. Buffy only had one or two records that achieved hit status in the US. She never stopped producing music after that. However, much of her later works were not commercial successes, deemed too experimental. Other of her songs were covered by, and later attributed to, more famous musicians, including “Until It’s Time for You to Go,” a song Elvis Presley famously covered and allowed his fans to think he had written.
There’s even more to the story of why Buffy exists in relative obscurity today, despite being one of the most inventive, original artists of the 60s and 70s. This work makes a case for Buffy as one of the musical greats of the 60s. Continue reading
It’s early October, and that means I’m bracing myself for when the whole nation suddenly turns pink and social media turns to talk of boobs.
I don’t want to “save the ta-tas,” and I don’t need to see some football team wearing pink gloves or socks for a day.
Women are more than their breasts.
And before you call me a prude and tell me to relax (or take the stick out of my butt—yeah, I know how this goes), hear me out. Continue reading
In this delightfully tongue-in-cheek volume, Lezlie Lowe gives us a deep look into human history from an unexpected angle: the elimination of waste. She covers just about every aspect of public toilets you can think of, centered around access – who gets to use them, and who doesn’t.
Access is especially bad for women, Lowe points out, because the overwhelmingly male designers do not take women’s biology into account. Just one of the frustrating facts Lowe delves into is the fact that biologically, women take longer to urinate and need to urinate more frequently on average than men; yet public toilets often have twice as much accommodation for men as for women.
Throughout the book, Lowe covers every population that public toilets fail – people with disabilities, inflammatory bowel disease, the LGBT community, people of color, and the homeless. The lowdown: public toilets fail us because they are mostly designed by young, straight, white, abled men. Continue reading
Review by Tess Tabak
Wednesday Martin paints a grim picture in Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong, and How the New Science Can Set Us Free. She posits that in much of the world, female sexuality has been hemmed in, due to a seemingly innocent cause: agriculture. As early hunter-gatherers, women roamed freely and the practice of multiple sex partners was common. But with the advent of the plough came the myths about female sexuality and gender roles we are taught today: that women are naturally domestic, frail, and monogamous.
The premise is one you might be familiar with – it’s been well-researched, as the NY Times noted. However, Martin infuses the subject with new energy, her own personal perspective, and a modern update, bringing recent developments like vaginal “rejuvenation” into the mix to show just how much gender roles have stayed the same. She discusses modern day adultery through the lens of two anonymous women she interviewed, Annika and Rebecca. One had an affair, and one didn’t, but both came to regret their choices for different reasons. Continue reading
Review by E. Kirshe
Reading a book like Any Man is a test of endurance. It’s harsh in many of the right ways, the subject matter hard to swallow, the descriptions rough and raw, and has characters real enough to be heartbreaking. There is no denying Amber Tamblyn’s skill and creativity- the book is experimentally formatted using prose, poetry, tweets, and negative space to tell the story. The moral, however, is one I keep feeling I’ve missed the point of.
Any Man is told from the point of view of the male survivors of a vicious female serial rapist.
Broken down, it’s a well done story. The points Tamblyn makes about American sensationalist culture, our treatment of rape survivors, overall rape culture and even our notions of who can be a victim are all solid. Continue reading
Sci fi/fantasy authors S.L. Huang, V.E. Schwab, Charlie Jane Anders and Seth Dickinson joined in conversation with Kaila Stern of the Mary Sue at Book Con 2018. They talked about strong female characters, odious sexist tropes, and what’s needed to change the power dynamic in the entertainment world. Read highlights from their conversation below:
by Meg Thompson
During the lead up to the 2008 presidential election, when I was an English Instructor in western Missouri, a student said to me, shaking his head, “A woman and a black man. Can’t we just have a normal person run for office?”
I don’t remember how I responded, perhaps because I fainted. Back then, barely a semester out of graduate school, my approach to handling the delicate issues of race and gender veered toward melodrama. Today, when met with similar rhetorical questions, it is not uncommon to find me crouching in front of the student’s desk like I am taking an order at Chili’s, nodding, probing with my little questions: Why do you think that? After class, we would go to the university coffeeshop so we could chat one-on-one, more in-depth.
Now, in 2016, that black man is getting ready to finish his second term and that woman has the democratic nomination in her grasp. My female students come to my office, which is now in rural Oklahoma where I teach, and tell me in hushed tones that they aren’t feminists, but they believe women should be given equal treatment. Continue reading