I picked up this book from 1995 as an anodyne to feeling icky from attempting to read Nabokov’s Speak Memory which derailed rather quickly for me on page 2 when he “mentally endured the degrading company of Victorian lady novelists.” That one pinprick of nauseating sexism set my mind wholly against continuing, although I gave a few more pages a desultory turn or two. Luckily, I had this collection of feminist essays from 1995 on hand to wipe away all traces of the egotism and overconfidence of a white male writer.
This contains 28 essays, ranging from burning-hot amazing to shrug-worthy. Mostly I was excited to fill the gaps in my knowledge between the 1970s and current feminist texts. Essays I loved:
- Ruminations of a Feminist Aerobics Instructor by Alisa L. Valdés; I sighed when I came across this bit, which is so applicable 21 years later: “What could honestly be more frightening to men than a room full of capable, professional women moving together, in sync, unaware of anything but themselves and each other? Only Hillary Rodham Clinton and a truly lesbian orgy, perhaps.”
- Your Life As a Girl by Curtis Sittenfeld. Brilliant description of tom-girl playing baseball morphing into the girl society wants her to be. I enjoyed her modernized version of Pride and Prejudice: Eligible. She wrote this essay while a student at Vassar.
- You’re Not the Type by Laurel Gilbert. The struggle of being a pregnant teenager.
- Bloodlove by Christine Doza. High school from the perspective of a woke teenager who makes a zine, Upslut, that her teacher threatens to sue her for libel until he realizes she won’t back down from her true assertions of his harassment.