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Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

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Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity Cover

ISBN13: 9781580051545
ISBN10: 1580051545
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations — both pre- and post-transition — to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.

Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this "feminine" weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire.

In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity — in all of its wondrous forms.

Review:

"'With her first full-length book, biologist, writer and musician Serano positions herself as a Betty Friedan of the transsexual community. Making a case that trans discrimination is steeped in sexism and that trans activism is a feminist movement, Serano delivers a series of articulate, compelling and provocative essays that unmask many of the misconceptions surrounding transsexualism, gender and feminism. Where most books on the topic focus either on first-person accounts or clinical observations, Serano approaches her topic from multiple angles. Tempering her own experience as a transsexual woman with psychological documentation, historical research and sociological data, she explores the debate on biology versus socialization; the media's 'lurid,' 'superficial' and 'contrived' depictions of trans women; the psychology of transitioning; 'boygasms' versus 'girlgasms'; nonacceptance and marginalization of transsexual women by the feminist community; and the subtle shades of gray between masculinity and femininity. Though her writing is dense at times, Serano largely succeeds in breaking down complex issues and offering deep insights that will be valued by anyone interested in transsexualism or gender studies. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Serano has...either opened a door into a new world or widened the scope of an already informed discussion of gender, transsexuality and femininity. From either perspective, her work is worth investigating." San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Julia Serano is a writer and spoken-word artist on the subject of gender with a PhD in biochemistry from Columbia University. She is a researcher at UC Berkeley in the field of evolutionary and developmental biology and has performed her spoken word at such high-profile events as the National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco Trans and Dyke March Stages, Ladyfest Bay Area, and The Vagina Monologues. Serano's work has appeared in Bitch magazine's BITCHFest, Clamor, Kitchen Sink, The Believer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and on Invisible Ink Radio (NPR). Julia lives in the Bay Area.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Christin, August 24, 2012 (view all comments by Christin)
This was an excellent book! She very clearly (and using plain language!) lays out the issues and problems faced by trans women in our society and shows how they may seem specific to trans women, but once you scratch the surface they really stem directly from traditional sexism and our societal devaluing of femininity in general. Also, I will love her forever for clearly articulating some of the problems I had with the hardcore pomo deconstructionists when I was in grad school. Back then I could never seem to put everything that was bothering me together and we were never taught any kind of critique of those pomo and/or gender performativity theories AT ALL because pretty much everyone there worships at the Altar Of Butler. Forget that, Iā€™m with Julia!
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
thomass_n, April 21, 2012 (view all comments by thomass_n)
Very informative dialog
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yonayona, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by yonayona)
I'm a trans dyke myself, but I was very isolated and didn't know any sort of queer or trans community till I moved to Oregon. A lover of mine who has been acting as a mentor to me has been enlightening me on the subject of trans feminism, and it's been really empowering. Whereas I once let my body and experience be exploited and mislabeled by cis people, I now am proud of who and what I am and use language for myself that makes sense to me.

With that said, I feel like we're currently in the '70s of trans feminism, as it were. Trans women are just starting to really talk about our experiences and produce our own works which represent us the way WE want to be represented, and I believe this book is a major step in the right direction.

In it, Serano deconstructs the oppression of trans women and, further, all feminine people in our society. Femininity and womanhood are viewed as artificial and inferior, she argues, while masculinity and manhood are valorized, even within feminist spaces. My aforementioned lover has experienced going to a conference or something of the sort wearing a dress and being ignored and condescended to, and then going the next day butch and being respected and having everyone agreeing with her.

Of course, this book is not without its problems. I feel that Serano's vocation of biology gets the better of her and she ends up essentializing gender a bit much. Further, she tends to be a little too binary-centric.

Still, this is a great book, one of the few that I actually bought after borrowing. I recommend that anyone read it, especially trans women.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781580051545
Author:
Serano, Julia
Publisher:
Seal Press (CA)
Subject:
Gender Studies
Subject:
Feminism
Subject:
Transsexuals
Subject:
Transsexualism.
Subject:
Gender Studies-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
408
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 14 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Science
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Transgender
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Zoology » Ichthyology

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity New Trade Paper
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Product details 408 pages Seal Press (CA) - English 9781580051545 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'With her first full-length book, biologist, writer and musician Serano positions herself as a Betty Friedan of the transsexual community. Making a case that trans discrimination is steeped in sexism and that trans activism is a feminist movement, Serano delivers a series of articulate, compelling and provocative essays that unmask many of the misconceptions surrounding transsexualism, gender and feminism. Where most books on the topic focus either on first-person accounts or clinical observations, Serano approaches her topic from multiple angles. Tempering her own experience as a transsexual woman with psychological documentation, historical research and sociological data, she explores the debate on biology versus socialization; the media's 'lurid,' 'superficial' and 'contrived' depictions of trans women; the psychology of transitioning; 'boygasms' versus 'girlgasms'; nonacceptance and marginalization of transsexual women by the feminist community; and the subtle shades of gray between masculinity and femininity. Though her writing is dense at times, Serano largely succeeds in breaking down complex issues and offering deep insights that will be valued by anyone interested in transsexualism or gender studies. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Serano has...either opened a door into a new world or widened the scope of an already informed discussion of gender, transsexuality and femininity. From either perspective, her work is worth investigating."
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