Summer Reading List

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 8, 2008

The Chicago Foundation for Women today published a list of recommended books for summer reading, including such notables as “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade,” by Ann Fessler (Penguin Books, $15), and “Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice,” by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross and Elena Gutierrez (South End Press, $20), with the comment, “The history of women of color’s leadership on reproductive health is underappreciated, but this book seeks to remedy that.”

The image on the left includes those and some of the other titles. CFW also recommends a title you should skip: Kathleen Parker’s new book on the rise of “slut culture” called “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care.”

Every week, CFW includes “What’s Missing” — a feminist analysis of media omissions — and this week they write:

In an excerpt printed in the New York Daily News, Parker blames women and girls — including pre-pubescent girls — for “Save the Males” cover with international “No” sign arousing boys and men, then insisting on freedom from sexual violence. Sexual innuendo on young girls’ clothing is “part of a larger trend in which children are being sexualized at ever-younger ages” — fair enough. But Parker blames the girls’ mothers for “pimping” their daughters and again turns her attention to boys and men: “Once women sexually objectify themselves, it becomes harder to insist that others not.”

What’s missing: Sexuality is a fundamental, life-long part of the human experience, and children deserve to learn about it in a positive and respectful way. Yes, the commodification and sexualization of girls is a problem, but we don’t use it to demean people of any age or gender — and we don’t use it to excuse rape. Parker articulates a central premise of the rape culture: If women and girls choose to wear certain clothing, it is an invitation for men to harass, assault or rape. But a skirt is not a white flag surrendering human rights. Once we shame women and girls as “asking for it,” we absolve those men who choose to be violent — and ignore all the well-meaning men who stand up to the rape culture and respect women.

They also point to Jeff Fecke’s funny takedown at Shakesville and Broadsheet’s Tracy Clark Flory, who writes: “To recap: Girls are being sexualized before they even know what sex is, but it’s males that need the rescuing. Quick, save them from these succubi in training bras!”

So, readers, what books do you recommend?

One response to “Summer Reading List”

  1. “The Girls Who Went Away” is excellent for a number of reasons. I almost bought Persepolis last week – will have to go back and do so!

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