avoiding 'stuff old people say'
September 13, 2014 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a friendly, non-textbook intro to modern thought on gender, sexuality, and feminism for boomers who want to stay up to date but don't know where to start.

My aunt is a wonderful lady who is a post-hippie east coast progressive. We're pretty close and have recently had a number of good conversations about gender politics and sexuality, and she's always open-minded and willing to listen. However, she's cis and straight and sort of didn't stay up on social commentary after 70s-era feminism, and she doesn't come across much diversity or discussion of these issues with her friends and through the mainstream news media. During our last discussion over whether bisexuals are faking it (augh), she expressed an active interest in learning more about the issues of gender, sexuality, and feminism that are being discussed "by your generation," since she "really doesn't want to become that old woman who everyone ignores because she's out of touch." I'd love to be able to point her to some good basic resources.

She probably isn't going to have the time or inclination to engage with jezebel/mefi/tumblr. So much of the feminism and social justice discussion online can be overwhelmingly insider baseball, plus a lot of times it's an in-group conversation with a lot of justified but off-putting anger. So: I'd like to suggest some kind of "social justice for dummies"-style book that covers common misconceptions (I'm not a fan of the "for dummies" title, but the structure is ~right). Of course, a lot of these topics include ongoing conversations, so there won't ever be a definitive text, but I'd love to be able to point her to a book that covers broad-stroke basics like "always use someone's preferred pronouns" or "what is rape culture."

I'm not really looking for a "my child just came out to me!" resources, or for intro to gender studies textbooks, though I suspect there'll be some overlap. Books would generally be better than blogs.
posted by alycoop to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
With regards to trans perspectives on feminism, I like Julia Serano's critiques of liberal feminism. Her books might be a little less accessible for your aunt, but she also writes a lot of articles that I think are pretty engaging and less academic.
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I mean, they still publish books about this stuff. Just head to the gender studies section of any bookstore and I'm sure you'll find the work of whichever feminists are getting book deals these days.

Not sure about any particular topic within social justice stuff, but off the top of my head and with a little bit of an assist from the Powell's website, what about Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism or Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist?

Also worth looking at:

We Don't Need Another Wave

Yes Means Yes


Colonize This!

Most of those titles aren't necessarily the absolute up to the minute finger on the pulse of tumblr level feminist theory, but hey, at least they're more relevant than the 70s.
posted by Sara C. at 4:32 PM on September 13, 2014

Basically any book by Jessica Valenti. Jessica Valenti also regularly writes feminist commentaries on current events for The Guardian which she might find interesting if she follows other news.
posted by Librarypt at 4:39 PM on September 13, 2014

Also, maybe zines?

Doris Distro has a lot of feminist writing that touches on stuff like colonialism, race, class, etc., but generally written from a personal perspective, which I find is a good way to help someone understand something like why using a person's correct pronouns is important.

Some zines that I'd recommend from Doris based on the topics you mention would be "Don't Be A Dick", which is about masculinity and rape culture, the various issues of "Hoax", which always has a great, thought-provoking variety of feminist writing, and "Support", which is a really good primer on consent and how to support people who've been assaulted or abused.

If you think that zines might be a fun way for her to approach these topics, definitely feel free to message me, and I'd have a ton more recommendations.
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:55 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, you won't need to educate her on "what is rape culture" since that concept originated in 1970s second wave feminism.

She might like this zine that has an intersectional, third wave perspective:
posted by third rail at 4:56 PM on September 13, 2014

Second Shift (1989)
posted by aniola at 6:14 PM on September 13, 2014

Although it's a memoir rather than any kind of overview, I would really suggest that your aunt read "She's Not There" by Jennifer Boylan, with an interesting afterword by Richard Russo. For some reason it seems to spark a lot of discussion among my friends when I loan it to them.
posted by kestralwing at 2:12 AM on September 14, 2014

Was she reading Ms. in the 70s? It's still in print. Also Bitch.
posted by brujita at 4:38 AM on September 14, 2014

You know, just being a member of AskMetafilter and reading every question every day is what has changed my views over the past few years.

I used to be fairly sheltered and kept to my own demographic. I cringe when I think back about some statements I've made about people who are gay/trans/minority in the past. Now, I consider myself pretty open-minded, accepting of other in all types of "otherdom" and able to discuss lots of issues that I would have tittered about before.

I don't think of these issues as textbook-learning with a defined start/end point like a university class, but rather as a world view that you encounter just a little of each day until it becomes second nature for you to think that way.
posted by CathyG at 2:29 PM on September 14, 2014

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