Reviews: June 20

Fearing the Black Body:  The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings
This was a little more on the academic side in terms of readability, but it really showed the change in ideas of fatness from being healthy and a beauty ideal to becoming associated with Blackness (and all the negative things that went along with that for white Europeans) and suddenly becoming something hated and shamed.  As Whiteness became opposed to Blackness, so white Europeans/Americans started getting thinner as an opposite to what they deemed as the “lesser” races.

I really encourage anyone who’s interested in the intersection of race and fatphobia to check this book out.

Origins of the Specious by Patricia O’Conner
This was a fun book on language that I picked up that de-myth-ifies so many of English language myths.  Everything from “posh” to “GI” is included, along with the change British English made from basing their roots on Saxon words to trying to force it to be like Latin and French.  I definitely recommend this if you’re a linguistics nut like me (but especially if you’re a descriptivist and love how language has evolved).

Inferior:  How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini
Not really the prequel to Superior, but more the spiritual ancestor to it, Inferior covers the sexism in biological determinism science.  The idea that there’s something fundamentally different between sexes is an outdated, yet still widely held belief, and some scientists (lbr, mostly men) are still desperate to prove it.  But like in Superior, Saini presents  the science that’s happening and shows those scientists who are happily disproving the old sexist assumptions.

Becoming a Private Investigator by Howie Kahn
This book, while interesting in showing how long some cases might go, wasn’t really what I thought it was considering the category it’s in.  It’s supposed to be along the lines of teaching one how to become whatever job is being written about (also in the series, yoga teacher and venture capitalist), but it didn’t really do that.  I did get something useful out of it for my novel (which is what I checked it out for), but not as much as I’d hoped.  Still, if you want to hear about some real cases being done, check this out.  It’s only about 130+ pages.

The Elementals by Michael McDowell
This was spooky.  With sand getting into places it shouldn’t to sand-filled creatures, this haunted house style horror made my skin crawl.  Which is exactly what I wanted, so yay for that!  I definitely recommend this to fellow horror fans.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
This is a book about racism geared toward white people written by a white person.  But don’t let that turn you off!  It’s actually an incredibly well-written book about the white tendency to shy away or defend oneself from accusations of racism, even (and sometimes especially) when they’re justified.  Racism is more than just Trump and his cronies; it’s everyday microaggressions that bog down the people who hear them.

I super recommend this book to any and all white people who are trying to unlearn their internalized racism and be a better person and friend to people of color.  Challenging racism is our duty, especially because we have all the power in the relationship.

Has the Gay Movement Failed? by Martin Duberman
I checked out this book because, I mean, what a title, but also because I wanted to learn more about where we’d come from as a queer movement.  After reading this, not only am I 100% more radical, but I’m ready to fight about it.  In terms of what GLF (Gay Liberation Front) stood for, we’re so far behind where we need to be.  They were anti-nuclear family, anti-heteronormative, and anti-war.  We’ve assimilated into the institution of marriage and made it so queers can join in to kill people in unjust wars.  Instead of trying to tear down these systems, we’ve joined them.  And then stopped.

There’s also a well-needed, if scathing, retort to HRC (Human Rights Campaign) and its goal of trying to mostly make queer people fit into heteronormative society instead of helping us tear it down and rebuild it.  We can’t just gain marriage rights and then wash our hands and say we’re done.  We have to keep fighting for our trans siblings, our siblings of color, our disabled siblings, and more.  We’re supposed to be working to dismantle the racist, sexist, ableist, heteronormative society we’re stuck in, not try and cut ourselves to fit into its boxes.

Definitely read this book, especially if, like me, you’re more of the “Queer as in fuck you” crowd.

Childfree by Choice by Dr. Amy Blackstone
This was a really interesting and affirming book from a leading childfree specialist.  Not only does she include her own research into this book, but she takes research all the way back from the 1970s when feminism improved the visibility of childfree people.  While she mostly talks to heterosexual childfree couples, she does mention queer folk in there, too, mostly to point out that our societal idea of what makes a family is not the only one there is.

As someone who is avidly (some might say rabidly) childfree, this was super affirming to read, because not only did it show that there really is a community out there of people like me, but it also gives science-based evidence to rebut so many of the claims that “you’ll be lonely” and “you’ll change your mind” and “who will take care of you in your old age?” and “you’re being selfish”.  (Quick answers:  That’s what cats are for; No, I really fucking won’t; that’s what I’ll have money for; and I’m no more selfish for not wanting kids than you are for wanting them.)

About Fleet Sparrow

Writer, Reader, Critic, Bear.
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