Feminism and Pop Culture
Ms. Zeisler is one of the founders of Bitch magazine, and wrote this survey of feminism in pop culture covering the 1940s through the early 2000s. It’s pretty brief at about 150 pages, and doesn’t go too deeply into any one topic, but it’s a nice basic introduction to the topic.
Broken down into just five chapters, the book explores the development of how women are portrayed in pop culture, as well as (to a lesser extent) how much of a say women have had in how they are portrayed. I described it to my husband as feeling like the first book one might read in a 100-level American Studies class that was going to have a bit of a focus on gender.
I found the final chapter – “Women Under the Influence” – to be a bit troublesome. In this one Ms. Zeisler attempts to have a fairly basic discussion about the issues around pornography, sex work, and whether they are (or can be feminist acts), but given how surface-level the brevity of the book is, she just doesn’t have the time to provide a really good discussion on the topic. She definitely needed to bring it up, but I found the way she chose to do it to be lacking. She also has a few pages on abortion and how it is portrayed in the media, but she refers to it as “heartbreaking” choice. Which is annoying, because it isn’t always heartbreaking, and she didn’t really allow for that understanding of abortion.
Is it worth reading? Hmmm. I think it could be fine for someone who is new to the topic and wants a super straightforward overview, but I wouldn’t go into it expecting a deeper analysis.