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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Review: Woman and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman

Woman and Other Monsters:
Building a New Mythology 
by Jess Zimmerman
Narrated by Vanessa Moyen

Thank you for this ALC.

Publisher: Beacon Press
Publish Date: March 8, 2021
6 hrs 53 min
Genres: Nonfiction, Feminism, Mythology

A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism

The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds--who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or not sexy enough--aren't just outside the norm. They're unnatural. Monstrous. But maybe, the traits we've been told make us dangerous and undesirable are actually our greatest strengths.

Through fresh analysis of eleven female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. She guides women (and others) to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, teaching readers to embrace a new image of the female hero: one that looks a lot like a monster, with the agency and power to match.

Often, women try to avoid the feeling of monstrousness, of being grotesquely alien, by tamping down those qualities that we're told fall outside the bounds of natural femininity. But monsters also get to do what other female characters--damsels, love interests, and even most heroines--do not. Monsters get to be complete, unrestrained, and larger than life. Today, women are becoming increasingly aware of the ways rules and socially constructed expectations have diminished us. After seeing where compliance gets us--harassed, shut out, and ruled by predators--women have never been more ready to become repellent, fearsome, and ravenous.

My Review:

I saw "women", "monsters", and "Medusa" and I was sold so I went into this not knowing what to expect exactly, which is my own fault but also... what a find!  If you're a lover of mythology (Um.... yes and my favorite "monsters" were always the gorgons...) and want a look at female monsters through a mythological feminist journey.... well here you have it.  Full disclosure - feminist reads aren't really my thing.  No, this doesn't make me any less of a woman, whatever that's supposed to mean.  There were a lot of FUCK YEAH moments in reading this and I loved the journey via mythology to make it even MORE interesting. But sometimes I was also like, ok ok.. enough.  Back to the monsters.. um hello.. Hydra? Chimera? Medusa? Hello? 

If you're going to write me in as a character for your book, please make me the more interesting *monster* version please.  I certainly don't fall within the bounds of natural femininity and if that's what makes me a monster, then SO ABSOLUTELY BE IT.  I'm hungry. Time to hunt.


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