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Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen [in Library Journal]

The morning after Election Day 2016, Buzzfeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen produced her essay, “This Is How Much America Hates Women.” Women who questioned, challenged, feuded with Trump – especially “nasty woman” Clinton– were degraded and dismissed. This unruly behavior – outside the “boundaries of what constitutes acceptable ‘feminine’ behavior” – gets women “labeled too fat, too loud, too slutty, too whatever characteristic women were supposed to keep under control.” Petersen examines the “unruliness” of 10 celebrities, emphasizing how “unruliness … feels … more necessary than ever.”

Melissa McCarthy is “too fat,” but her “ability to access an inner unruly woman made her a massive star.” Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are “too gross,” but huge audiences can’t get enough of their Broad City. Madonna is “too old,” but she “refuses to conceive that age should limit her career.” Hillary Clinton is “too shrill,” but she’s “spent her adult life being first.”

Petersen voices her own case studies, adding urgent emphasis, especially as she shares her “hope that someday, the only rules a woman will have to abide by are those she sets for herself.” That Dr. Petersen (she has a PhD in media studies) narrates adds both intimacy and urgency; she can sound like your best friend disclosing revelatory secrets as she shares not-to-be-ignored salient truths.

Verdict: Curious, intelligent, media-savvy readers will surely welcome Petersen’s perceptive, illuminating “unruly women.”

Review: modified from “Audio,” Library Journal, September 15, 2017

Readers: Adult

Published: 2017


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