• Women and Other Monsters

  • Building a New Mythology
  • By: Jess Zimmerman
  • Narrated by: Vanessa Moyen
  • Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (85 ratings)

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Women and Other Monsters

By: Jess Zimmerman
Narrated by: Vanessa Moyen
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Publisher's Summary

A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more “monstrous” version of feminism

The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds - who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or not sexy enough - aren’t just outside the norm. They’re unnatural. Monstrous. But maybe, the traits we’ve been told make us dangerous and undesirable are actually our greatest strengths.

Through fresh analysis of 11 female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. She guides women (and others) to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, teaching readers to embrace a new image of the female hero: one that looks a lot like a monster, with the agency and power to match.

Often, women try to avoid the feeling of monstrousness, of being grotesquely alien, by tamping down those qualities that we’re told fall outside the bounds of natural femininity. But monsters also get to do what other female characters - damsels, love interests, and even most heroines - do not. Monsters get to be complete, unrestrained, and larger than life. Today, women are becoming increasingly aware of the ways rules and socially constructed expectations have diminished us. After seeing where compliance gets us - harassed, shut out, and ruled by predators - women have never been more ready to become repellent, fearsome, and ravenous.

©2021 Jess Zimmerman (P)2021 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

"A graceful stylist who casts a wide literary and geographical net, Zimmerman can make nearly anything interesting.... Nearly every page, however, brings fresh insights into age-old myths or tragicomic observations on 21st-century womanhood.... A sparkling and perceptive critique of ancient ideas that still hold women back.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"A fresh look at female-coded monsters from mythology offers insight about embracing characteristics that people fear.” (Shelf Awareness)

“An engaging parsing that addresses the ways that sexism and misogyny constrain women, a provocative weaving of the personal and the political.” (The Progressive

What listeners say about Women and Other Monsters

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Not what I was expecting

I thought it was going to be a retelling of myths from a feminist angle but turned out to be more of a memoir of the authors self-esteem struggles loosely tied to mythological tropes.

7 people found this helpful

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Wow wow wooooow!

I was so excited to learn about this book but it far exceeded my expectations. I feel so inspired, empowered, and validated by Zimmerman’s eloquent writing. I definitely will be rereading!

4 people found this helpful

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Anectdotal

I thought that this book would have more research but it was largely anecdotal. While the style of writing and the author voice was great I had expected a more scholarly approach to the connection between women and monsters based on the description.

2 people found this helpful

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Had me right up until the end there. Spoiler Alert

I loved this book and was all ready to recommend it to my daughter, had already thanked the woman who recommended it to me. until I got to the last 46 minutes or so, the chapter called, "Come Back Twice as Hard," wherein the author literally blames a woman for being hit by a man because of her mental illness.

Literally.

As in, "...but yes he probably wouldn't have done it if she weren’t so nuts."

And there's this: "I kept tabs on some of the other Crazy Ex-Girlfriends out of curiosity, we both did, just to see how crazy they were. " And still another line wherein she refers to a woman as having gone, "bug shit crazy."

It baffles me that the author could go on throughout the book about how women have been mistreated, misrepresented and held down and then, 'in the same breath,' victim blame a woman for being hit by a man because of mental illness.

I tried to find the place where she explains that this, the above, is all part of the maligning, misrepresenting, holding back of women, but it doesn't come, unless the reader is simply supposed to somehow glean that when the author realizes her boyfriend is lying, or at least exaggerating about his ex's. But I don't see that.

I don't want any other person to read this book and certainly not one who's ever struggled with mental illness.

1 person found this helpful

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Terribly disappointing (and boring)

I thought the book will present well researched feminist interpretation of myths. It's just the author's rant about how much she hates her body and all her self esteem issues. it reads like a badly written (and boring) diary. there is mention of mythical characters in passing, no real research, and definitely not something I'd call a good feminist interpretation. terribly disappointed!

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A Riveting Show of Symbolism

This book is absolutely stunning. Not only does Zimmerman shed light on the patriarchal influence sowed within our most beloved myths and legends, but she also brings notice to how these same sentiments are impacting the way we as a society view women to this day. I enjoyed this novel for so many reasons. One being, I love Greek mythology, the other being never have I ever came across an author more relatable and honest than the creator of this narrative. There were moments while reading this I had to put the book down and gather my emotions, realizing that I had been in similar situations and that I suddenly felt this immense consolation in knowing I was no longer so deserted in my thoughts towards self-image and past entanglements. I definitely recommend this book to any and all.

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Must read

Jess does a fantastic job of showing you just how stories and real life intertwine.

1 person found this helpful

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Powerful

A new take on feminism. I loved this book front to back! This narrorator has a wonderful tone and it's well recorded! The author is relatable and she has fresh takes on recent events, 10 out of 10 would recommend!

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Not what was promised

I chose this title thinking it would be similar to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ work, but in a mythology vein. It could have been- I’m sure the author has the academic chops to produce such a work. However, this book is roughly 30% myth work, 35% prurient confessional, and 35% progressive diatribe. Wholly unpleasant to listen to. And I really, really wanted to listen to this, and couldn’t get past the 70% of wasted sound waves (ink if you read the print version). YesI did listen to the sample before buying. The sample was fine, but the book rapidly devolves into Facebook-style whining about the patriarchy. I want my Audible credit back.