For many people — artists and art consumers alike — the measure of good art is its aesthetic appeal. This emphasis on aesthetics and a measure of quality comes from and is maintained by the art world. This same art establishment promotes an idea that for artists to be politically engaged is to threaten or sabotage their careers as artists. Or, artists who do use their work to comment on social issues find their work “re-positioned as an aesthetic statement,” explains activist, critic and art historian Susan Noyes Platt in her book Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis.
In the 2008 recession, three-quarters of the 7.5 million jobs that were lost were lost by men. Women occupy just over half of the jobs in the United States, and more women than men are earning college degrees. The world has we know it, the world shifting to a post-industrial economy, is slow reforming itself to better suit women than men – at least that’s the argument that Hanna Rosin tries to make in The End of Men.
In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments! In this post, How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and Murder in Peking by Paul French.
If you were a woman hired at Newsweek magazine in the 1960s, you had a limited career path. Most women were hired as researchers, working to provide background and information to male writers who received all the bylines and credit for each of the magazine’s stories. Women had almost no chance to move up from researcher to writer, and an even smaller possibility of ever becoming an editor or among the top brass at the magazine.
A Bonus Post: After you finish reading my review, I suggest heading over to Book Riot where I wrote about how this book led me down the bibliography rabbit hole and some of the other books about women and politics that I’m hoping to read.
Review: Rebecca Traister’s goal in Big Girls Don’t Cry is a big one — to tell the story of women and the 2008 presidential election, a story of the country and its culture and how the public figures in this race showed how far the country has come and how much further there still is to go when it comes to addressing sex and race in our public discourse.
What It’s About: The 2008 presidential election was a big one for a number of reasons, but the narrative this book focuses on is the role of women as candidates, spouses, and commentators. Traister, a reporter for Salon, offers an account of the election, covering a range of women including Sarah Palin, Tina Fey, Katic Couric, and Hillary Clinton and exploring the different reactions the candidates received throughout the election season.
I’m Sorry You Feel That Way is a memoir — series of essays, really — about a woman told through the relationships with the men in her life. Through essays about her son, father, first husband, second husband, friend, and the Satanist that lives downstairs (among others), Diana Joseph explores what its like to be a women based on the different relationships she has with men.
When I read Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back, a feminist critique of reality television, I finally felt like I was reading a book that got what I’ve been trying to say. And although the book is focused specifically on reality television, I think Posner’s methods of analysis and conclusions can apply equally well to other forms of popular entertainment.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a story about how one woman fought back against one of the most repressive regimes in the world in order to save herself, her family, and her community, one dress at a time.
When the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1996, life for the residents of the city, especially the women, changed dramatically. Women like Kamela Sediqi, a young, educated teacher, were suddenly forced to stay in their homes, restricted from even the most basic activities. At the same time, the men of Kabul were either conscripted or forced to flee, leaving a city of women that needed to work to survive but were forbidden from doing so. Out of these difficult circumstances, Kamela mobilized her sisters and started a dressmaking business to support her family through the occupation.
One Sentence Summary: Can the great books of feminism help one working mother reconcile her idealized outlook on life from college to the experiences she has today?
One Sentence Review: Although I felt like just barely the wrong age group for Reading Women, I loved the analysis of feminists texts and want to go read even more of them.