In the last two years, the United States - its history, assumptions, prejudices, and vocabulary - have all cracked open. A woman won a state presidential primary contest (quite a few of them, actually) for the first time in this country's history. Less than a year later, a vice-presidential candidate concluded her appearance in a national debate and immediately reached for her newborn baby. A few months after that, an African American woman moved into the White House - not as an employee but as the First Lady. She is only the third First Lady in American history to have a postgraduate degree, and for most of her marriage, she has out-earned her husband.
In Big Girls Don't Cry, Rebecca Traister, a Salon.com columnist whose election coverage garnered much attention, makes sense of this moment in American history, in which women broke barriers and changed the country's narrative in completely unexpected ways: How did the volatile, exhilarating events of the 2008 election fit together? What lessons can be learned from these great political upheavals about women, politics, and the media?
In an utterly engaging, razor-sharp narrative interlaced with her first-person account of being a young woman navigating this turbulent and exciting time, Traister explores how - thanks to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and the history-making work and visibility of Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, and others - women began to emerge stronger than ever on the national stage.
©2010 Recbecca Traister (P)2010 Tantor
"Traister does a fine job in showing that progress does not proceed in straight lines, and, sometimes, it's the unlikeliest of individuals who initiate real change." (Publishers Weekly)
I just finished listening to Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister on a cross country road trip. She lays out an insightful and thorough examination of the 2008 election campaign and what it meant for feminism, sexism, and women in this country. As a 40 year old woman who sits somewhere between the Gloria Steinem/2nd Wave feminist generation and the 20-something blogosphere feminism, I found that Traister's observations as well as the those of the many influential women she interviewed echoed many of my own. There were times when I felt like I was re-living the anger and disappointment raised by the Clinton and Palin campaigns. Even more enraging was the media treatment of both women which is carefully and chronologically documented in the book through excerpts, quotes, and historical context.
My political involvement during the 2008 election was limited to listening to NPR and watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. So, I was fairly insulated from the worst of the media sexism and stupidity. This book reminded me that I still need to be paying attention. When we pay attention, we speak out, and that is one thing which wasn't happening enough in 2008.
If there is one thing that I didn't love about this book - it was Traister's occasionally long-winded observations of her own emotional state during the campaign. While I appreciate that sexism, racism and politics are emotional as well as intellectual, and I often felt the same way she did, I enjoyed the concrete examples and historical context much more. Not really a criticism... but an acknowledgement that this book is about a woman's own personal political journey as well as a nation's.
This book reminds me that I'm proud to be a feminist and inspires me to get off my "stuck-in-college" mind-set and learn about what's going on in feminist thought today. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to examine what it means to be a feminist, its changing definition and how the 2008 election changed it all.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
The author, Rebecca Traister, was a little whiny and I could have done without the parts that were part memoir, but she really opened my eyes to just how terribly the women candidates were treated in the 2008 presidential campaign. She really made me think...and still has me thinking about the issues that she raised. I'd recommend this title to women who are interested in politics and gender issues.
It's a great book for women interested in politics, women in business and anyone who wants a modern day case study of women with power and influence and how the media reacts to that. I thought the author did a reasonable job with the research between interviews and storytelling. I'd highly recommend it.
Is Kirsten Potter a citizen of Earth? How could she mispronounce so many words? Isn't there another field she could go into? I will never knowingly purchase another book narrated by her.
This is an incredibly interesting book. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in sociology, politics, or feminism. It is a fair and balanced account or the 2008 elections. The author's candor and honesty is a pleasure. This is not a preachy piece of propaganda. I finished the book feeling informed, validated, and more willing to keep caring about an often tedious political system. Although the title is slightly unfortunate, I cannot praise the book enough. Big Girls Don't Cry is an outstanding read.
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