Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Feminism: Young, Hot, and Restless


I'm finally catching up with the books on my Feminist Reading Shelf and wanted to belatedly comment on Jennifer Baumgardner's very thoughtful Look Both Ways.

Part personal, part political, and always poignant, Jennifer writes about coming into her own bisexuality when (oops!) she unexpectedly falls in love with a fellow intern at Ms. shortly after college. With her usual intergenerational flair and contextual savvy, she includes a chapter on "The Woman-Identified Woman" - icon and theory of "second-wave" feminism - and puts her "third-wave" embrace of a more fluid sexuality in the context of feminism's evolution. It's interesting to juxtapose this far more nuanced account of girl-on-girl dynamics with the current conversation about GGW (Girls Gone Wild, for those not yet in the know), where girls get it on for the boys. The book goes way beyond the superficiality of the Madonna-Britney kiss (Madonna: what were you thinking?!), past the reductive stereotype of third-wave sexuality (my lipstick is political), and boldly explores the non-PC world of desire in an era of sexual complexity. If you haven't already, I urge folks to get past the annoyingly snarky review that appeared a while ago in the Times and give Both Ways a fresh look. Go. Go now. Read this book. Well worth the journey. It changed the way I think about bisexuality and Jennifer is a gorgeous writer. (She's gorgeous, too, but that's not why you should read the book! Though I must say, those eyes on the cover certainly draw you in.)

(For less battle-axe coverage, see the interview on Feministing.com, a bit in Mother Jones, and a more mixed review in Salon.)

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