Big Girls Don't Cry

Big Girls Don't Cry

The Election That Changed Everything for American Women

Book - 2010 | 1st Free Press hardcover ed
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It was all as unpredictable as it was riveting: Hillary Clinton's improbable rise, her fall and her insistence on pushing forward straight through to her remarkable phoenix flight from the race; Sarah Palin's attempt not only to fill the void left by Clinton, but to alter the very definition of feminism and claim some version of it for conservatives; liberal rapture over Barack Obama and the historic election of our first African-American president; the media microscope trained on Michelle Obama, harsher even than the one Hillary had endured fifteen years earlier. Meanwhile, media women like Katie Couric and Rachel Maddow altered the course of the election, and comedians like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler helped make feminism funny. As Traister sees it, the 2008 election was good for women. The campaign for the presidency reopened some of the most fraught American conversations about gender, race and generational difference, about sexism on the left and feminism on the right, all difficult discussions that had been left unfinished but that are crucial to further perfecting our union.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2010
Edition: 1st Free Press hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781439150283
Branch Call Number: 324.973 TRAISTER
Characteristics: 336 p. ; 24 cm


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Jul 09, 2011

I’ve read a lot of books about the 2008 presidential election but none represented my feelings about it as well as this book does. For feminists, this book is like a look inside our hearts and minds.

The author writes about the political events of 2008 but she is also not reticent about sharing her opinions and feelings, which vacillated. She started out supporting John Edwards and disliking Hillary Clinton but transitioned to admiring Hillary a great deal and supporting her candidacy (as I did) and then finally came to love Obama (as did I).

As the author says, younger progressive women tend to have a blind confidence that a woman will eventually become president in their lifetime. Therefore, they were unperturbed about voting for Obama this time around. But for many of the 2nd wave feminists (now middle-aged), Hillary Clinton was probably our only chance to see a woman elected president. Understandably our passion about her candidacy ran deep and wide.

The extreme reactions of voters and the media to Hillary Clinton are amply discussed. Hillary has been quoted as saying that she is a blank slate in the sense that people react to her from their own prejudices and attitudes that are independent of her. The vitriol directed at Hillary was so intense that it prompted many women to jump down from their spots on the fence and run to her defense.

In the process of talking about Clinton, Obama (Barack and Michelle), Palin, Couric, Steinem and all the rest, the author writes insightfully abut our culture’s persistent ambivalence about women, (especially older women), about feminism and what it is and isn’t, about racism and how it lives on, and about white men with power who don’t want (or, more rarely, are willing) to share power with women and people of color.

The book is excellent. Don't just read it; buy it.

debwalker Dec 10, 2010

"Rebecca Traister's so-very-smart and lively book about the 2008 presidential campaign, called Big Girls Don't Cry, teases out how our reigning cultural narratives about femininity and "playing nice" came to wield so much power during the campaign and, finally, in the voting booth."
Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2010


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