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Rebecca Traister’s book Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women was recommended by reader Lisa W. Here’s what she has to say about Traister’s exploration of feminism in the 2008 US Presidential election:
“Rebecca Traister’s book isn’t like every other book about the 2008 election, though many of these do discuss women. Big Girls Don’t Cry discusses women and feminism by not only looking at the treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin – she includes others such as Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, and even John McCain – but also looks at the most important person in the process: the impact of the election on voters, most specifically female voters. Not only is it a great analysis, but it’s also funny and honest, and connects with the reader.”
I also really enjoyed Big Girls Don’t Cry. The aspect I found most interesting was Traister’s analysis of two interlinked divides in the feminist movement which became very apparent in 2008: the generation gap between young feminists (bloggers like Jessica Valenti and Melissa McEwan) and older women (Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton); and the gap between those who felt gender was more important than race, and vice versa.
Traister puts herself outside all of these camps, pointing out that generationally she’s in-between the second-wavers and the younger feminist bloggers. As an Edwards supporter, not initially a Hillary or Obama supporter, she was sympathetic to those who believed in the historic power of electing a woman president, as well as those who felt you could be a feminist and not support Hillary. From this unique perspective, Traister does a great job chronicling not just sexism and racism experienced by the 2008 candidates, but also how the whole race impacted the feminist movement and women voters in the United States.
The other key contribution of Big Girls Don’t Cry is Traister’s coverage of sexist and racist media coverage, which is thorough and insightful. For example she looks at the coverage of Hillary’s crying episode and discusses how the media reacted mostly negatively, while on the ground voters (especially women) tended not to see it as a problem. Traister’s analysis of the crying double standard for male and female politicians is especially relevant in light of the rise of John Boehner.
Finally, I appreciated Traister’s gender analysis of the internal workings of the Democratic and Republican campaigns, including looking at how Edwards and Obama enlisted feminist bloggers, and how Hillary Clinton failed to do the same or to reach out to feminist organizations that might have made natural allies.
Has anyone else read this book? I’d love to hear your comments. Next up in our highly informal book club is Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, which was recommended by Jessica and Em on our Facebook page. As always, if you have any suggestions for other books you’d like to see reviewed here, let me know.
I’ll leave you with this contribution to It Gets Better from the Vancouver Men’s Chorus:
Note: My updated guide as of September 2012 is available here.
For the two years I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve found it to be a really great place for keeping track of news about gender issues and networking with other feminists.
But for new users, it can be difficult to use Twitter effectively. I often hear people complaining that ”all it is is people talking about what they ate for lunch”. I can also see feminists maybe getting turned off given some of the offensive hashtags that end up becoming trending topics, like #rulesforgirls and #ihatewomenwho.
Although I admit I tweet a fair bit about what I’m eating, there’s a lot more to Twitter than the mundane. I’ve tried to list the top Twitter accounts for feminists to follow in a variety of categories, in no particular order. I follow almost 300 related Twitter accounts and I found it difficult to narrow it down. I’d love to hear in the comments below which accounts you think should be added.
Top Hashtags to Keep an Eye On
Global Feminist Focused
Making Activism Fun
Who else is a feminist must-follow on Twitter?
Last week, anti-female posters were placed around the campus of the University of Waterloo (UW) covering those of female candidates running in the student elections. These posters, entitled “The Truth,” featured a picture of Marie Curie and a caption which read: “The brightest woman this Earth ever created was Marie Curie, the Mother of the Nuclear bomb. You tell me if the plan of women leading men is still a good idea!”
Similar posters were also sent to faculty and students via email. And, if that wasn’t enough, a facebook group was also set up to further disseminate this anti-female message to UW students.
A criminal investigation has been launched by the UW Campus Police. They claim that this incident doesn’t meet the criteria of a hate crime against women. Instead, perpetrators are being sought on charges of unethical conduct (university policy breech), mischief and impersonation (criminal charges). Note that none of these charges are related to the anti-female content of these attacks.
Personally, after hearing the news, I was appalled at this blatant display of misogyny at my former university. I have also watched and listened to, with interest, the reactions in the community.
Some people have been quick to dismiss it as a prank or a senseless joke. Others, mostly university officials, are taking the issue seriously but are quick to label it an isolated incident. Despite this, what has been encouraging is the groundswell of action coming from students, faculty and community members. Together they are raising their voices to call this critical incident what it is, not a prank or isolated incident, but a product of the larger culture and climate on the UW campus. Take a listen to a recent panel discussion regarding sexism and hate speech on the campus here.
As you can hear, many female UW students will tell you that sexism on campus is nothing new. And, after this particular incident, many have been voicing their concerns regarding feeling unsafe on campus – again, nothing new.
However, what is new is that now they may have the attention of the University which is under both internal and external pressure following this incident.
There is an opportunity here to push for measures that would help make UW campus a more safe and supportive environment for female students. Changes could possibly include: implementing key card entry to all campus buildings after hours to improve security and monitoring; increased patrol of campus by UW police; increased funding for the UW Shuttle Service; ensuring representation from all equity-seeking groups on all University Advisory Committees; and perhaps even implementing more stringent university policies to deal with cases of sexism on campus.
Keep up the good fight!