Saturday, September 19, 2009

QUick Book Stop: Sexism in America: Alive, Well and Ruining Our Future

Barbara Berg's new book, Sexism in America, is an exciting and engaging fast paced look at the feminist movement in recent years, based solidly within the context of the political and social sphere of America. Berg, a historian by trade, compiles this memoir of the movement beautifully through oral histories, personal experiences and well researched facts and figures.

As a woman of twenty-five, the nuanced look at the second wave movement and it's reception by the USA's shock jock news system, branding the burgeoning sisterhood as "satanism" -something literally so ridiculous we need older women to tell these stories to us so we believe them.

Equitable rights and treatment for women - what we asked for seemed so simple, so just, so right, we approached the next decade eager to see our hard-won gains extended and amplified.

The book moves quickly on to more times not long gone, through the Bush's, Clinton and into present day Obama - a country measured by the men at it's helm. And each presidential era marked by it's social or moral crusade, burnt into the fabric of society - through TV, film and the mainstream media. Moral crusades which have, at times of the social conservatives been so anti progression, anti equality it breaks the hearts.

Not always carrying an entirely positive message, this book stirs questions page by page, and more importantly erases the line that has been erected between generations of feminists. You will, I think, read your own thoughts in these pages and be pushed to take them further with the help of the voice and education of a woman who has been there, and done that and spoke to others of her generation - as well as women of ours, who helped drive her need to share this information.

"We're so obsessed with appearance' a twenty-six ear old from North Carolina suggested, "because while we're told we can be anything we want, what a lot of us are realizing is that it translates into: we can look any way we want to look. So we're focusing on that, instead of what in our hearts and minds we want to become."

It offers a great platform to begin your critical thinking on relationships, sex, biology as destiny, work place politics, political parity, sexism's effect on children and youths, pressures of plastic surgery, reproductive rights, motherhood, films, tv, music, body image - with a fantastic bibliography attached, and for women based in the US a mini yellow-pages of contacts.

The only negative I could come up with is the fact that we don't yet have this book in England, that our shared histories in the UK have still not found a hard form to exist in - and that if we are to continue erasing the lines that society has fought to erect between generations of women - as competitors instead of allies - it's something I think we need. For women unsure of their most recent histories, for women unsure of where their dissatisfaction with life comes from, for young women unaware that we are still fighting the good fight set by the second wave.

We're not there yet, but we're much further along than we were before the 1970's, back in those dark ages when a girl's future was mapped out at birth, when you couldn't wear slacks without being excommunicated by your church, when you were expected to stop your education after high school so your brother could go to college, when you could be refused service at a restaurant because you were dining alone, and refused a credit card or mortgage if you were single, when you couldn't refuse to have sex with a diseased husband, an abusive husband, any husband



Hannah M said...

I've seen a couple of posts on this book now - think i might get it!

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to Amazon UK where you can purchase the book:

In addition, google books has more of the book to view: