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Books I think everyone should read (part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

These are feminist and women’s history books. I believe both men and women should read these. If you don’t believe in feminism, or think it’s a bad word, all the more reason to read them. Also, women have been forced to read about men’s history – or, “history” as it is commonly known – for years. It’s time to give some of the love back, guys.

FlowFlow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

The book takes the reader through an intense and confusing journey of womanhood from the ancient world to today’s society. Stein and Kim show how society views of menstruation have changed (and not changed) over the course of time, as well as the products and marketing that go along with many female “problems”. The book is littered with colorful (and rather eye-opening) advertisements for women’s products from the 1950s and 60s. They’re a lot like car wrecks – horrible to witness but you can’t take your eyes off them.

The Purity MythPurity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Many of us have heard about purity pledges (not having sex until married) and may have even signed one when in high school. But have you ever witnessed a purity ball? Valenti describes them in full detail, which I recounted and reacted to on my blog post Purity Balls and Sexy Virgins. But there is more to the book than the “rituals” people partake in. Valenti drives home the point that women are self-standing humans. We do not need men to take care of us or give their permission to live our lives. Valenti argues, and backs up her argument with many detailed examples, that expecting young women to stay “pure” until marriage is a damaging concept.

Full Frontal FeminismFull Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

Do you live in an anti-vibrator state?* Yes, there are states that have “anti-erotic massager” laws on the books. If you think this is absurd, then this book is definitely for you.

Full Frontal Feminism is aimed at young women, with a chapter geared specifically for young men as well. The word “feminist” can draw many images to one’s mind so a lot of women (and men) don’t identify themselves as a feminist. Take this little test to see if you’re a feminist: What are the worst names you could call a woman? Perhaps you thought of slut, bitch, whore or something along those lines. Now, what are the worst names you could call a man? Did you think of pussy? Bitch? Nancy-boy or girly man? Final question: Do you think that it’s really fucked up that the biggest insults to both men and women are a derogatory terms for a woman? If you just answered yes, then congratulations. You are a feminist. Anyone who thinks that the way women are treated is sexist and unfair is, in the truest sense, a feminist. So what should young feminist women and men do? Valenti offers advice in all kinds of scenarios, along with shocking examples of the way women are treated and viewed in modern society.**

*Turn to page 39 to find out if you do.

**I emphasize modern society because some of the acts are so barbaric, one may mistake the scenario as happening in the ancient world.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Literature

 

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Go with the flow

Nearly every young girl has read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.  For those men who read my blog, it’s a coming-of-age novel and one of the main issues that Margaret faces is getting her period.  The book has been in publication since 1970 and has helped countless tweens understand the confusing years when puberty hits.  The newer editions of the book have an updated version of Margaret going to buy her first sanitary pads.  The more recent version has her buying adhesive pads.  The original version had her buying a belt to strap in the sanitary pads.  Since the newer version didn’t come around until 2006 (when I was 26), I read the original.  It scared me to death.  I’d never seen a sanitary belt and didn’t understand how they worked.  I also pictured myself having to wear it outside my pants, which then confused me more.  Once I found out that I wouldn’t have to wear a belt, I started to wonder what women did before the belt was invented.

Now, decades later, I have a firmer grasp on the answer.  I found it in the book Flow: The Cultural Study of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim.  The book takes the reader on a history of the period.  It not only gives insight into what women wore before adhesive pads were invented (ever wonder why Victorian women wore so many layers?) but also a look into the sanitary napkin industry and its advertisements, menopause, hormone replacement, douching (one of Lysol’s original uses) and so much more.

For the sake of my readers who don’t want to know, I won’t go into any details.  But I do think that every woman should read this book.  It is fascinating how far we’ve come and what myths have been broken up along the way.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2010 in Literature

 

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