The Rock Ethics Institute


Non-Academic Sources: Texts

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

Melissa V. Harris Perry
Yale University Press (2011) 

From a highly respected thinker on race, gender, and American politics, a new consideration of black women and how distorted stereotypes affect their political beliefs. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Perry, Melissa V. Harris (2011). Sister citizen: Shame, stereotypes, and black women in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild

Susan J. Douglas
Times Books (2010)

Women today are inundated with conflicting messages from the mass media: they must either be strong leaders in complete command or sex kittens obsessed with finding and pleasing a man. In The Rise Of Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas, one of America's most entertaining and insightful cultural critics, takes readers on a spirited journey through the television programs, popular songs, movies, and news coverage of recent years, telling a story that is nothing less than the cultural biography of a new generation of American women.

Revisiting cultural touchstones from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Survivor to Desperate Housewives, Douglas uses wit and wisdom to expose these images of women as mere fantasies of female power, assuring women and girls that the battle for equality has been won, so there's nothing wrong with resurrecting sexist stereotypes—all in good fun, of course. She shows that these portrayals not only distract us from the real-world challenges facing women today but also drive a wedge between baby-boom women and their "millennial" daughters.

In seeking to bridge this generation gap, Douglas makes the case for casting aside these retrograde messages, showing us how to decode the mixed messages that restrict the ambitions of women of all ages. And what makes The Rise Of Enlightened Sexism such a pleasure to read is Douglas's unique voice, as she blends humor with insight and offers an empathetic and sisterly guide to the images so many American women love and hate with equal measure. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Douglas, Susan J.  (2010). The rise of enlightened sexism: How pop culture took us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild. New York: Times Books. 

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

Michael Kimmel
Harper Collins (2009)

The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear. Today, growing up has become more complex and confusing, as young men drift casually through college and beyond—hanging out, partying, playing with tech toys, watching sports. But beneath the appearance of a simple extended boyhood, a more dangerous social world has developed, far away from the traditional signposts and cultural signals that once helped boys navigate their way to manhood—a territory Michael Kimmel has identified as "Guyland."

In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Kimmel, Michael (2009). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York: Harper Collins.

He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know

Jessica Valenti
Seal Press (2009)

Double standards are nothing new. Women deal with them every day. Take the common truism that women who sleep around are sluts while men are studs. Why is it that men grow distinguished and sexily gray as they age while women just get saggy and haggard? Have you ever wondered how a young woman is supposed to both virginal and provocatively enticing at the same time? Isn’t it unfair that working moms are labeled “bad” for focusing on their careers while we shake our heads in disbelief when we hear about the occasional stay-at-home dad? 

In He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism, calls out the double standards that affect every woman. Whether Jessica is pointing out the wage earning discrepancies between men and women or revealing all of the places that women still aren’t equal to their male counterparts—be it in the workplace, courtroom, bedroom, or home—she maintains her signature wittily sarcastic tone. With sass, humor, and in-your-face facts, this book informs and equips women with the tools they need to combat sexist comments, topple ridiculous stereotypes (girls aren’t good at math?), and end the promotion of insidious double standards. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Valenti, Jessica (2009). He's a stud, she's a slut, and 49 other double standards every woman should know. Emeryville: Seal Press. 

The Purity Myth

Jessica Valenti
Seal Press (2009)

The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence-only curriculum to "Girls Gone Wild" infomercials — place a young woman's worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgins until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Valenti, Jessica (2009). The purity myth. Seal Press. Emeryville: Seal Press. 

Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World without Rape

Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman (Eds.)
Seal Press (2008)

In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Freidman and Full Frontal Feminism and He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike will present their ideas for a paradigm shift from the “No Means No” model—an approach that while necessary for where we were in 1974, needs an overhaul today.

Yes Means Yes will bring to the table a dazzling variety of perspectives and experiences focused on the theory that educating all people to value female sexuality and pleasure leads to viewing women differently, and ending rape. Yes Means Yes aims to have radical and far-reaching effects: from teaching men to treat women as collaborators and not conquests, encouraging men and women that women can enjoy sex instead of being shamed for it, and ultimately, that our children can inherit a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished. With commentary on public sex education, pornography, mass media, Yes Means Yes is a powerful and revolutionary anthology. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Valenti, Jessica and Friedman, Jaclyn (Eds.) (2008). Yes means yes: Visions of female sexual power and a world without rape. Emeryville: Seal Press. 

Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

C. J. Pascoe
University of California Press (2007)

High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Pascoe, C. J. (2007). Dude, you're a fag: Masculinity and sexuality in high school. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

Jessica Valenti
Seal Press (2007)

This revised edition includes a new foreword by Valenti, reflecting upon what’s happened in the five years since Full Frontal Feminism was originally published. With new openers from Valenti in every chapter, the book covers a range of topics, including pop culture, health, reproductive rights, violence, education, relationships, and more. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Valenti, Jessica (2007). Full frontal feminism: A young woman’s guide to why feminism matters. Emeryville: Seal Press. 

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

Ariel Levy
Free Press (2005)

A classic work on gender culture exploring how the women’s movement has evolved to Girls Gone Wild in a new, self-imposed chauvinism. In the tradition of Susan Faludi’s Backlash and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, New York Magazine writer Ariel Levy studies the effects of modern feminism on women today.

Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig—the new brand of “empowered woman” who wears the Playboy bunny as a talisman, bares all for Girls Gone Wild, pursues casual sex as if it were a sport, and embraces “raunch culture” wherever she finds it. If male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, Female Chauvinist Pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women—and of themselves. They think they’re being brave, they think they’re being funny, but in Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy asks if the joke is on them.

In her quest to uncover why this is happening, Levy interviews college women who flash for the cameras on spring break and teens raised on Paris Hilton and breast implants. She examines a culture in which every music video seems to feature a stripper on a pole, the memoirs of porn stars are climbing the bestseller lists, Olympic athletes parade their Brazilian bikini waxes in the pages of Playboy, and thongs are marketed to prepubescent girls. Levy meets the high-powered women who create raunch culture—the new oinking women warriors of the corporate and entertainment worlds who eagerly defend their efforts to be “one of the guys.” And she traces the history of this trend back to conflicts between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution long left unresolved.

Levy pulls apart the myth of the Female Chauvinist Pig and argues that what has come to pass for liberating rebellion is actually a kind of limiting conformity. Irresistibly witty and wickedly intelligent, Female Chauvinist Pigs makes the case that the rise of raunch does not represent how far women have come, it only proves how far they have left to go. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Levy, Ariel (2005). Female chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture. New York: Free Press. 

Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape

Charlotte Pierce-Baker
W.W. Norton & Company, Reprint Edition (2000)

In this "intelligent", "stunning", and "honest" book, Charlotte Pierce-Baker weaves together the accounts of black women who have been raped and who have felt that they had to remain silent in order to protect themselves and their race.

It opens with the author's harrowing and courageous account of her rape and includes the stories of the author's own family's response, plus the voices of black men who have supported rape survivors. Synopsis retrieved from W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Pierce-Baker, Charlotte (2000). Surviving the silence: Black Women's stories of rape. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women 

Susan Faludi
Three Rivers Press (1994)

“Opting-out,” “security moms,” “desperate housewives,” “the new baby fever”—the trend stories of 2006 leave no doubt that American women are still being barraged by the same backlash messages that Susan Faludi brilliantly exposed in her 1991 bestselling book of revelations. Now, the book that reignited the feminist movement is back in a fifteenth anniversary edition, with a new preface by the author that brings backlash consciousness up to date. 

When it was first published, Backlash made headlines for puncturing such favorite media myths as the “infertility epidemic” and the “man shortage,” myths that defied statistical realities. These willfully fictitious media campaigns added up to an antifeminist backlash. Whatever progress feminism has recently made, Faludi’s words today seem prophetic. The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and the “dangers” of women’s career ambitions; the glass ceiling is still low; women are still punished for wanting to succeed; basic reproductive rights are still hanging by a thread. The backlash clearly exists.

With passion and precision, Faludi shows in her new preface how the creators of commercial culture distort feminist concepts to sell products while selling women downstream, how the feminist ethic of economic independence is twisted into the consumer ethic of buying power, and how the feminist quest for self-determination is warped into a self-centered quest for self-improvement. Backlash is a classic of feminism, an alarm bell for women of every generation, reminding us of the dangers that we still face. Abstract retrieved from amazon.

Faludi, Susan (1994). Backlash: The undeclared war against American Women. Three Rivers Press, New York.