July 8-14, 2008
Not “chick lit”—but even better
Summer is upon us, and whether you have some vacation time or just more long commutes to suffer through, we bet you could use some good summer reading. Scroll down to our News section for eight recommended books, from feminist essays to graphic novels, and one new title you should skip in What’s Missing. We’ll continue highlighting great books by and about women through July.
Tuesday Blast book contest
What are your favorite stories about women? Send us your book choice—new or old, a classic or a rare find—and we’ll choose a few random winners of some Tuesday Blast swag. Send your pick to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Tuesday Blast book contest” by Friday, July 18.
Ann Russo and Melissa Spatz wrote a call to action to “Stop the False Race/Gender Divide”: “We are calling on white progressive women activists and feminists to join us in challenging the onslaught of reactionary and racist arguments being put forward in the name of feminism and in defense of Hillary Clinton…. We welcome all progressive activists, including women of color and allies, to sign the letter as well.” Their petition aims for 1,000 signatures and already has more than 400. Ann Russo is program director of DePaul University’s Women’s and Gender Studies department, and Melissa Spatz is executive director of Women & Girls Collective Action Network (CAN), a Foundation grantee. Russo also sits on Women & Girls CAN’s board.
Summer Reading List
These titles are available from Chicago's feminist bookstore, Women and Children First, either online or at their Andersonville store. Don't forget to read about our non-recommendation in What's Missing (below). And if you missed our recommendations last time, click here to see our Best of 2007 list from the Jan. 1, 2008 edition.
This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers edited by Elizabeth Merrick (Random House Trade, $13.95)
This features a great diversity of short stories by women writers—beyond the familiar faces on bestseller lists.
Like Son by Felicia Luna Lemus (Akashic Books, $14.95)
The main character, Frank, is a man who was born female but does not ascribe to gender norms, nor identify as transgender. The book details Frank's relationship with his Latino father.
It’s So You: 35 Women Write about Personal Expression Through Fashion & Style edited by Michelle Tea (Seal Press, $15.95)
Neither wholly frivolous nor serious, this collection shares funny and poignant ways that women find their style niche, often in anti-consumer ways.
Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence edited by Maria Ochoa and Barbara K. Ige (Seal Press, $16.95)
Through cultural criticism, spoken word, poetry and more, women of color tackle the everyday terror of violence in their communities. Women and Children First calls it a "long-needed book," and we agree.
History (and our future)
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler (Penguin Books, $15)
As an adoptee herself from this period, the author tells the stories of 100-plus women with adoption stories from pre-Roe times.
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross and Elena Gutierrez (South End Press, $20)
The history of women of color's leadership on reproductive health is underappreciated, but this book seeks to remedy that. Read about our related work in our brochure on the Catalyst Fund for Reproductive Justice (PDF).
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, $24.95)
Satrapi's graphic novel tells of her coming-of-age during Iran's Islamic Revolution and her adult relationship with the country. She also directed the animated film, just released on DVD (Sony Pictures, $29.95).
Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina by Rosie Molinary (Seal Press, $15.95)
The author combines her own experiences with hundreds of other Latinas to craft a holistic, even uplifting take on beauty and self-acceptance.
Summer Don't-Read List: "Save the Males"
The story: Many hyperbolic books of misogynist dreck are published, but some of them use a kernel of truth to lure in well-meaning people. Take for instance Kathleen Parker’s new book on the rise of “slut culture” called “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care.” In an excerpt printed in the New York Daily News, Parker blames women and girls—including pre-pubescent girls—for arousing boys and men, then insisting on freedom from sexual violence. Sexual innuendo on young girls’ clothing is “part of a larger trend in which children are being sexualized at ever-younger ages”—fair enough. But Parker blames the girls’ mothers for “pimping” their daughters and again turns her attention to boys and men: “Once women sexually objectify themselves, it becomes harder to insist that others not.”
What’s missing: Sexuality is a fundamental, life-long part of the human experience, and children deserve to learn about it in a positive and respectful way. Yes, the commodification and sexualization of girls is a problem, but we don’t use it to demean people of any age or gender—and we don’t use it to excuse rape. Parker articulates a central premise of the rape culture: If women and girls choose to wear certain clothing, it is an invitation for men to harass, assault or rape. But a skirt is not a white flag surrendering human rights. Once we shame women and girls as “asking for it,” we absolve those men who choose to be violent—and ignore all the well-meaning men who stand up to the rape culture and respect women. Thankfully, at least two feminist bloggers also saw Parker’s excerpt: Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon Broadsheet and Jeff Fecke at Shakespeare’s Sister. (Please note Fecke swears often.) Clark-Flory’s “recap”: “Girls are being sexualized before they even know what sex is, but it’s males that need the rescuing.” Fecke, a heterosexual man, counters Parker’s assumption that most men must be “psychic” to understand women’s boundaries: “ ‘Can I touch you?’ ‘No.’ ‘Okay.’ Really, what’s hard to understand about that?”
Read more at our Press Room and our Past Events at cfw.org.
Eating disorder treatment may be covered by insurance
An Illinois bill would mandate health insurance coverage for treatment of eating disorders. HB 1432, which passed the General Assembly and awaits Gov. Blagojevich’s signature, would make Illinois the 17th state to offer such protection to sufferers of anorexia and bulimia. The bill would require coverage of up to 45 days as an inpatient and 60 outpatient visits each calendar year, the Chicago Tribune reports. This is especially important for women since 90 percent of eating disorders affect women between the ages of 12 and 25 (a statistic from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)—and one in four Illinois women between 19 and 24 lack health insurance (according to a report we commissioned from Health & Disability Advocates in May 2007). The governor's contact information is available from our Action Center.
Find more advocacy opportunities at our Online Action Center.
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In the spotlight
JULY 17 (Thu.): Trivia Night at T's Bar (with Young Women's Leadership Council), 6:30-9 p.m.
JULY 23 (Wed.): Mix and Mingle (with Lesbian Leadership Council), 6-9 p.m.
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