2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · feminism · history · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction

ARC Book Review | A Politically Incorrect Feminist by Phyllis Chesler

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Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a fun Bookish Question!

 

A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women by Phyllis Chesler

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: feminism, history, non fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: feminist history, history not in the history books

Read with food: whatever you want

 

Synopsis:

Phyllis Chesler was a pioneer of Second Wave Feminism. Chesler and the women who came out swinging between 1972-1975 integrated the want ads, brought class action lawsuits on behalf of economic discrimination, opened rape crisis lines and shelters for battered women, held marches and sit-ins for abortion and equal rights, famously took over offices and buildings, and pioneered high profile Speak-outs. They began the first-ever national and international public conversations about birth control and abortion, sexual harassment, violence against women, female orgasm, and a woman’s right to kill in self-defense.

Now, Chesler has juicy stories to tell. The feminist movement has changed over the years, but Chesler knew some of its first pioneers, including Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, Flo Kennedy, and Andrea Dworkin. These women were fierce forces of nature, smoldering figures of sin and soul, rock stars and action heroes in real life. Some had been viewed as whores, witches, and madwomen, but were changing the world and becoming major players in history. In A Politically Incorrect Feminist, Chesler gets chatty while introducing the reader to some of feminism’s major players and world-changers.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Phyllis Chesler for an ARC copy of the ebook for review. As always, an honest review.

I jot down notes while I read books, things that I want to remember for later to write my book reviews. For this book I had such conflicting notes written that I had a hard time figuring out what I thought overall. But it comes down to these two things. Number 1: I appreciate and respect the advances the author made in the feminist movement. Number 2: I disliked the tone the book was told with. Too angry and judgmental.

Starting out with the positives, because we could all use a little more positivity in our lives. The author’s voice is strong, clear and powerful. There’s no mistaking who she is and what she stands for. Her book tells her story as a feminist over the years, working to make things better for others. Looking back on how our society used to be for women makes me extremely grateful for the feminists before me. All the hard work they put in allows the women of today to have the rights we do. I learned a lot about feminist history in the U.S., especially when it pertains to the author’s life story.

However, the tone of the book makes it much less pleasant to read than it could have been. There’s a lot of judgment and anger. It’s understandable given the circumstances, but it doesn’t appeal to me. There’s also a lot of information, and it can be a bit too much at times. Maybe if your’e extremely familiar with feminist history, this won’t be the case for you. Also more of the book than I would like was the drama between the feminists. Not my cup of tea.

Overall Phyllis Chesler did a lot of good in her lifetime, but the writing feels angry and unapproachable. Informative, authentic, but not for me.

 

Bookish Question of the Review: 

Which feminist ideal do you wish were more prevalent in books? 

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · feminism · non fiction · religion · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields 

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The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields 

Published by Beacon Press on May 15, 2018

Pages: 192

Genres: non fiction, religion, feminism

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: social and personal experiments, feminist reads, learning about religion with modern interpretations

Read with food: whatever you want and your body needs, because it’s important that you do what’s best for you

 

Synopsis:

A young feminist finds herself questioning why “hotness” has become necessary for female empowerment–and looks for alternatives.

Looking good feels good. But in a society where looking good is posited as being strong, while negotiating for better pay is statistically proven to damage our careers, is it fair to say that wicked eyeliner, weekly blowouts, and a polished Instagram feed are the keys to our liberation? If so–if “hot” really is a good enough synonym for “empowered”–why do so many of us feel, deep in our bones, that the sexy-as-strong model is a distraction? Is “pretty” still the closest to power women can get? Why is looking fierce an acceptable substitute for living in a world where women are safe?

Inspired in seminary by American Muslimahs who wear the hijab for feminist reasons, Lauren Shields took off what she calls the Beauty Suit–the “done” hair, the tasteful and carefully applied makeup, the tight clothes and foot-binding shoes–for nine months. She’d really only wanted to do an experiment. Instead, her life–especially her views on what constitutes “liberation”–changed forever.

Rooted in feminist theory and religious history, and guided by a snappy personal narrative, The Beauty Suit unpacks modern American womanhood: a landscape where the female body is still so often the battleground for male ideals, and where we struggle with our rights as human beings to define and exercise our freedom.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Lauren Shields’ year of religious modesty, for herself, prompted her to write this book to share her thoughts about the journey. Overall the book reads as a bit disjointed, but that’s fairly in keeping with such a complex multi dimensional experiment. Throughout she’s figuring out for herself how to define her religion, other religions, modesty, feminism, the modern culture, and more. The author has a background in religious studies, so she’s very well versed in these topics. The book reads as an educational text combined with a memoir.

I enjoyed all the new information that I gained, especially the alternate interpretations of modest dress within a religious context. I also enjoyed the in depth discussions about feminism, both relating to religion and culture in general. 

However, there were some topics in which I disagreed with the author including women’s empowerment versus self objectification. Also it came across to me that Lauren believes being spiritual is less than being religious. I’m not sure this was what she was trying to convey, or maybe it’s what’s true for her personally. But that aspect bothered me. Also, I wish there were more written bout the actual modesty experiment. Much of the book was a lesson about religion, modesty, feminism, and cultural norms. 

In general, I enjoyed The Beauty Suit and learned more about religion, especially in a modern cultural context. I think this would be a good book for young women who are religious but struggle to connect feminism, choice and strength with some traditional religious teachings. 

 

How many of you want to take off the “beauty suit” defined by our culture?