Yes Means Yes! edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
This week makes it a month since I decided to forsake Atlanta for Denver. And in those four weeks, I’ve been harassed on the street more than I ever have been in my life so far. (Not that I think Atlanta is particularly superior in that regard, only that being at a women’s college was a very different context. Although I will say that there is a Hollaback Atlanta and not a Hollaback Denver.) There’s nothing like waiting to cross the street after a long day at work and getting honked at, whistled at, or have someone grab their crotch at you to remind you that, by daring to be female and in public, your very corpse is considered public domain by an alarming amount of men. Between that and the success of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (which I am not linking to), this summer has given me a fresh handle on the concept of rape culture.
The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
I’ve been reading Feministing ever since I first ventured onto the Internet—okay, perhaps not at the exact age of nine, when I unleashed myself upon the Internet (and before the website even existed), but in late middle school and high school? Most definitely. Founder Jessica Valenti started the website in 2004 to create a space for young feminists and stepped away in 2011 because she wanted it to remain so. Part of Valenti’s activism consists of the books she writes, which include The Purity Myth. I’d been meaning to read it, but the production of a documentary based on the book made me actually pick it up.
Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
In my middle school health class, there was a day that was going to be “boys versus girls”—a dialogue, if you will, between the two genders. I, of course, butched up as much as I could under my mother’s supervision and spent the entire class period siding with the boys; I remember rocking back and forth going, “Yeah, I don’t get that, why do you do that?”. I cringe to look back on it now, because it’s sort of the moment that captures how sexist I was and how much I hated femininity. To be fair, part was backlash against being forced to present against my own gender presentation (I’m about fifteen degrees butcher than the average Jane), but a lot of it was exactly what Julia Serano discusses in several of the essays in Whipping Girl—hatred and fear of the supposedly mystical and artificial feminine.