Courageous, strength of character, outspoken – none of these qualities should be seen as intimidating. But when a woman is seen as possessing some, perhaps all of these qualities, people may feel threatened and their cries of insecurity are echoed by hundreds, sometimes thousands of others. There isn’t enough time to discuss the patriarchy and how women have been oppressed and subjected to a sexist, double standard which their male counterparts seldom if ever have to endure. Fortunately there is time to read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman, by Anne Helen Petersen, who discusses the challenges that women face when they threaten the status quo.
The book is divided into ten essays that explores a different woman and how she’s too much; whether it happens to be an artist or writer, each individual is too much. Hillary Clinton’s assertiveness is too much which makes her shrill, while Serena Williams’ strength makes her too masculine. It’s a fascinating look at how double standards are applied so easily when a woman is found to be threatening.
Serena Williams has made headlines since her debut in the 90s. In September she lost to Naomi Osaka at the US Open. Ms. Williams`outburst was not only ridiculed but an Australian newspaper had the nerve to publish a racist cartoon of the incident. Would this kind of thing ever happen to a male player? Doubtful. Anne Helen Petersen tells us of Ms. Williams’ meteoric rise in the tennis world, and how the media has portrayed her as anything but feminine. For someone who doesn’t care about tennis, I really enjoyed learning about Serena Williams.
Too Gross explores Broad City, a sitcom that follows the misadventures of Abbi and Ilana, two twenty-something year olds in NYC. Broad City is funny and vulgar, neither Abbi and Ilana are looking for love. These BFFs want to hang out, get stoned, hook up and then Skype later to talk about the day they spent together. The fact that Abbi and Ilana would rather do these things than get married and have a family challenges society’s perception of what women should be and what they should be doing.
At times these essays are shocking because it deals with race, body shaming and sexism. I was frustrated to learn about Madonna being labeled too old? Too old for what? Entertaining millions of fans – which she’s been doing since the 80s? In other instances I was laughing out loud, I’m a big fan of Broad City and I really enjoyed learning about the creation of the show, and how its creators (Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer) had a difficult time conveying to a TV network there was no long-term romantic objective for either of the protagonists. Girls want to have fun – what’s so difficult to understand? Too Shrill discusses Hillary Clinton, it was a tough read, because two years later I’m still upset with Americans who voted for a rich, misogynistic, racist, xenophobe. But I did enjoy learning more about her.
If you`re ready for something different, I highly recommend Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman.