Books

Mass Market

Mass Market
An interview with Sofia Quintero by Aya de Leon, Illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, appeared in issue Tough; published in 2014; filed under Books.
Two Latina authors plot a feminist takeover of chick-lit

“You bitches are lucky to have a health clinic,” one of the girls said.
“Hold up, ladies,” Marisol said. “Remember, you are not bitches,” she said. “You are hoes.”
The women laughed.
“Bitches are dogs,” Marisol said. “But whores are…?”
“Professionals who get paid,” they chorused back.
“Thank you,” Marisol said. “Show some respect for the trade.”

Hot Under the Bonnet

Hot Under the Bonnet
Article by Audrey deCoursey, Illustrated by Pam Wishbow, appeared in issue Maps & Legends; published in 2014; filed under Books.
The cooptation of Amish culture in mass-market fiction

illustration by Pam Wishbow

I first noticed the books about five years ago in a grocery checkout line in suburban Chicago. Their covers sport bonnet-clad heads on demure-looking young white women posed in calm domestic or pastoral scenes. Perhaps a horse-drawn buggy rolls by in the distance, or a barn is etched on the horizon. Maybe a young man in a wide-brimmed hat stands gazing at the woman in the foreground.

Mock & Awe

Mock & Awe
An interview with Janet Mock by Tina Vasquez, appeared in issue Maps & Legends; published in 2014; filed under Books; tagged interview, janet mock, Redefining Realness, trans identity.
Janet Mock on truth-telling, community building, and writing the story she had been waiting for her whole life.

Mainstream media does a pretty horrendous job of telling the stories of trans people, often focusing on the details of their transition and running “before” pictures. Janet Mock had a similar experience when she came out as trans in a May 2011 feature in Marie Claire called “I Was Born a Boy.”

Eating Out

Eating Out
An interview with Samantha Irby by JJ Keith, Illustrated by Kami Jeanne, appeared in issue Food; published in 2013; filed under Books, Internet culture.
Real talk with Meaty's Samantha Irby

While on her way to get cheeseburgers with a friend, Samantha Irby decided to start a blog, mostly to impress a dude she had just met on the Internet. Since she was at that very moment loosening her belt to accommodate said cheeseburgers, she decided to call her new blog Bitches Gotta Eat. Four years later, the blog has outlasted the relationship.

It Was a Dark and Snowy Night

It Was a Dark and Snowy Night
Article by Soraya Roberts, Illustrated by Zejian Shen, appeared in issue Pulp; published in 2013; filed under Books.
How heroes became heroines in Nordic noir fiction

Sugar Rush

Sugar Rush
An interview with Cheryl Strayed by Tina Vasquez, appeared in issue Elemental; published in 2012; filed under Books.
Speaking with author and advice columnist Cheryl Strayed

Two years ago, my mother died. She was 48, I was 25. I turned to Sugar in a voracious, all-consuming way. Not sweets—I devoured ”Dear Sugar,” an online advice column at the literary website the Rumpus.

Sealing the Deal

Sealing the Deal
Article by Jessica Jernigan, Illustrated by Beth Austin, appeared in issue Red; published in 2011; filed under Books.
The wet and wild world of selkie romance novels
Red

In 1972, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss published The Flame and the Flower. With this novel, Woodiwiss transformed the romance genre by making explicit what had previously been implied—that is, sex—and created a formula for success that romance authors would follow for decades. The archetypal romance plot of the post-Woodiwiss era goes like this: An innocent young woman experiences sexual awakening when she succumbs to an older, very powerful man, who in turn is domesticated—but not in any way emasculated!—by the aforementioned innocent young woman.

Pink Slip

Pink Slip
An interview with Peggy Orenstein by M. M. Adjarian, Illustrated by Rebecca Green, appeared in issue Primal; published in 2011; filed under Books.
From the outside, Peggy Orenstein epitomizes feminist success. She's an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in such distinguished publications as the New Yorker, Elle, Vogue, Discover, Mother Jones, and O: The Oprah Magazine. But her work itself is dedicated to asserting the ways in which "having it all"—or trying to—in a world built to the measure of men can have profound effects on women and girls.

Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect
Article by Eryn Loeb, Illustrated by Kristopher Pollard, appeared in issue Confidential; published in 2010; filed under Books.
In a sweetly musty used-book-store, I recently bought a few thick, oversize issues of Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal. Dating from the early 1950s, they were full of ads for Del Monte fruit cocktail (serving suggestion: use it to top a loaf of canned ham, for something "really different!"), Lustroware plastic wastebaskets ("Love its elegant beauty"), and articles worrying that comic books "create child criminals" and warning mothers that "Nobody likes a young smart aleck."

Forever Your Girl

Forever Your Girl
Article by Holly Welker, appeared in issue Old; published in 2010; filed under Books; tagged Fascinating Womanhood, gender roles, Harold and Maude, marriage, twilight.
Call it a feminist coincidence: Two books published in 1963 examine gender, sex, and marriage, but arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan complains that "the only passion, the only pursuit, the only goal a woman is permitted is the pursuit of a man." Meanwhile, Helen Andelin's Fascinating Womanhood urges women to embrace that primary passion, because it leads to ultimate fulfillment and complete happiness. We all know how The Feminine Mystique changed the world for countless women. But Fascinating Womanhood, while lesser-known than Friedan's polemic, has had its own powerful impact on notions of women and their potential.

Now in its sixth edition, Fascinating Womanhood has sold more than 2 million copies. Over the years, the book has grown from less than 200 pages to more than 400, with most of the additional pages featuring testimonials from women whose miserable marriages were saved once they began following the book's advice. And Andelin's legacy is still very much in effect—not only for the adherents who blog about the book's wisdom or enroll in online "Marriage, the Fascinating Way" classes offering personalized advice on how to act like a little girl, but in the female infantilization enthusiastically embraced by popular culture.
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