I finished reading Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women by Susan Faludi in March. My favorite thing about Susan Faludi is the strength and accuracy of her BS-o-meter. My next favorite thing is her brilliant writing. The sad thing to realize after reading this 20-year-old book is that she could write the same book — with all new but similar material — today.
Faludi laid the groundwork for many authors who followed. Twenty years ago, she wrote ” … women in the ’70s who were assertive and persistent discovered that they could begin to change men’s views. By vigorously challenging the conventional definition of masculinity, these women allowed men to start to question it, too.”
Nineteen years later, Joan C. Williams published Reshaping the Work–Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter, in which she challenges the masculine norms at work.
Faludi quoted Kate Rand Lloyd, editor of Working Woman: “Women are not taking advantage of the power they already have … What is regrettable to me is we don’t yet see what it is we have done, how badly we are needed, how we really do have tools for changing our own future in our own hands.”
Nineteen years later, Gloria Feldt published No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.
Faludi mentioned Peggy Orenstein in the acknowledgments.
Twenty years later, Orenstein published Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, which I’ve read but haven’t written about yet. If sexualized girlhood isn’t about backlash, I don’t know what is.
“No matter how many times women have been told to sit down and keep quiet, they have struggled to their feet.” (p. 455)
“American women have always fought the periodic efforts to force them back behind the curtain. The important question to ask about the currect backlash, then, is not whether women are resisting, but how effectively.” (p. 455)
Posted by Becky @ 3:41 pm
Books: Baby Love
I read Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence by Rebecca Walker in March. So much of what she has to say resonates with me.
“And I thought that really, when it comes down to it, that’s what life is all about: showing up for the people you love, again and again, until you can’t show up anymore.”
Posted by Becky @ 3:17 pm
Books: The Book Thief
I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in March for my book club. This is another book I probably wouldn’t have read if not for my book club. I see the subject matter and just don’t know if I can read another book about Nazi Germany. But I did read this one, and I’m glad I did. It was great on so many levels. For someone like me, who loves to read and believes in the power of words, it’s brilliant.
“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constanly overestimating and underestimating the human race — that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” (p. 550)
Posted by Becky @ 3:06 pm
Books: The Glass Mountain
June 22, 2011 | Books
I read The Glass Mountain by Diane Wolkstein in February. Wolkstein adapted the story from “Old Rinkrank” by the Brothers Grimm. It’s a typical fairy tale of a princess held hostage, but she saves herself. The book has beautiful illustrations by Louisa Bauer.
Posted by Becky @ 5:54 pm
Books: The Princess Knight
I read The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke in February. It has a fun gender twist on the knight-in-shining-armor story, and it’s beautifully illustrated by Kerstin Meyer. They also worked together on Pirate Girl.
Posted by Becky @ 4:02 pm
Books: The Great Christmas Bowl
I read The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren in February. (Yes, I’m still getting caught up.) The author is related to a friend of mine, and she lives close enough (in another state) to be considered “local.”
I’m not a fan of romance novels — even less so of Christian romance novels, which is what this author writes — and, luckily, this wasn’t one of those. It was a sweet and often funny story about family. Very nice.
Posted by Becky @ 3:37 pm
Books: Tangled Webs
I just finished reading Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America — From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart. It’s a book on the June tour for TLC Book Tours, and I received a review copy from the publisher, Penguin Group.
The book was written by Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart and dedicated “To all who seek the truth.”
Stewart meticulously lines up the situations of four people — Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds and Bernie Madoff — shows where they lied and explained the harm that such lies do to society.
I’d seen the headlines and heard some of the chatter about each case, but it was interesting to read the details Stewart provided.
I have to admit, though, that my eyes glazed over when we got to Madoff and the stock market. (Interesting that, having written for The Wall Street Journal and his expertise in the stock market, Stewart’s section on Madoff was the shortest.) I couldn’t help but think, really? It took everyone that long to smell the BS? I’m no Wall Street expert — far from it. But I kept thinking, “It’s not supposed to be that complicated. Nothing is.” Smelled like total BS to me.
Stewart quotes from Lying, a book by philosopher and ethicist Sissela Bok: “Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. They can thrive only on a foundation of respect for veracity.” He also says that lying that goes unpunished breeds cynicism that undermines civilization.
I agree with what he says. I can’t help but think of him as a wide-eyed idealist, which is an odd thing for me to call a man of almost 60.
But is lying really a new epidemic? I don’t think so. And sending Martha Stewart to jail certainly hasn’t deterred so many others from lying. I mean, really. Turn on the television on any given day, and what do you see? Arnold Schwarzenegger anyone? (His story was breaking as I started reading this book.) Or how about Anthony Weiner? Or what about those men who told everyone they were lesbian bloggers? Those are just a few recent examples. I could spend all day looking up others.
Does that make me a cynic? Maybe. Or maybe it just means I don’t like the smell of BS. (Y’all have seen my header at the top of the page, right?)
Even so, maybe it takes an idealist to keep writing about and discussing these issues so we can aspire to be better … and expect better from others.
Posted by Becky @ 12:00 pm
Books: Pirate Girl
I read Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke (illustrated by Kerstin Meyer) in February with the kids. They loved it. I thought it was cute, too.
Posted by Becky @ 10:24 am
Books: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
I read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson in February for my book club. I absolutely loved it.
Posted by Becky @ 10:14 am
Books: When a Grandparent Dies
I read When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief (Elf-Help Books for Kids) by Victoria Ryan with my children when their grandmother died earlier this year. It uses clear, concise and kind words for children who just lost a grandparent. (It doesn’t hurt parents to read this, either.)
Posted by Becky @ 10:09 am