We meet the third Monday of every month at 7:30pm, however every six months we have a planning potluck. For more info call Chelsey at Women & Children First, 773/769-9299.
Join us on Mon., Nov. 15th at 6:00 PM (*Note special start time) for our bi-annual potluck dinner & book selection meeting. Books we've read in the past include:
Monday, October 19th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
In her trademark wry and self-revealing voice, the bestselling author of "Wasted" tells her story of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and takes readers inside her own desperate attempts to control her violently careening mood swings.
Monday, September 21st, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Collected here, the Massey Lectures from legendary novelist Margaret Atwood investigate the highly topical subject of debt. She doesn't talk about high finance or managing money; instead, she goes far deeper to explore debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. By looking at how debt has informed our thinking from preliterate times to the present day, from the stories we tell of revenge and sin to the way we order social relationships, Atwood argues that the idea of what we owe may well be built into the human imagination as one of its most dynamic metaphors. Her final lecture addresses the notion of a debt to nature and the need to find new ways of interacting with the natural world before it is too late.
Monday, August 17th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
"In Hillman's world, the surer you become about who you are, the more vulnerable you get."-"The San Francisco Bay Guardian" "Hillman's writing is sexy because it's smart and refuses to simplify things."-"Fabula Magazine" "There's nothing else in print like this amazing and courageous book."-Patrick Califia, author of "Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism" "An important and wonderfully disarming book. Poetic, political, and deeply personal."-Beth Lisick, author of "Helping Me Help Myself" "Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word)" chronicles one person's search for self in a world obsessed with normal. What is "intersex"? According to the Intersex Society of North America, the word describes someone born with sex chromosomes, genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that are neither clearly male nor clearly female. In first-person prose as intimate as a diary, Thea Hillman redefines memoir in a series of compelling stories that take a no-holds-barred look at sex, gender, family, and community. Whether she's pondering quirky family tendencies ("Drag"), reflecting on "queerness" ("Another"), or recounting scintillating adventures in San Francisco's sex clubs, Hillman's brave and fierce vision for cultural and societal change shines through. According to a special report by the Traditional Values Coalition entitled "Homosexual Urban Myth," award-winning writer Thea Hillman is a radical who conducts erotic readings to promote the "homosexual revolution." Thea offers presentations about sex and gender and performs her work at colleges and festivals around the country. She lives in Oakland, California.
Monday, July 20th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
For more than half a century, the red leather diary languished inside a steamer trunk. Rescued from a Dumpster on Manhattan's Upper West Side, it found its way to Lily Koppel, a young writer, who opened its tarnished brass lock and journeyed into an enthralling past. The diary painted a breathtaking portrait of a bygone New York--of glamorous nights at El Morocco and elegant teas at Schrafft's during the 1920s and '30s--and of the headstrong, endearing teenager who filled its pages with her hopes, heartaches, and vivid recollections. Intrigued, Koppel followed her only clue, a frontispiece inscription, to its now ninety-year-old owner, Florence Wolfson, and was enchanted as Florence, reunited with her diary, rediscovered a lost younger self burning with artistic fervor. Joining intimate interviews with original diary entries, "The Red Leather Diary" re-creates the romance and promise of a remarkable era and brings to life the true story of a daring, precocious young dreamer.
Monday, June 15th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, May 18th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
In this groundbreaking work--edited by writer and activist Friedman and "Full Frontal Feminism" author Valenti--the way society views rape in this culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure.
Monday, March 16, 2009, 7:30pm
A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl asserts the powerful observations 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 activists must work to embrace and empower femininity--in all of its wondrous forms.
Monday, May 19, 7:30pm
In Hijas Americanas, author Rosie Molinary sheds new light on what it means to grow up Latina. Drawing upon her own experiences, as well as interviews and surveys collected from more than 500 Latina women, Molinary provides a powerful understanding of the inner conflicts and powerful triumphs of Latinas. The women profiled in this book are Caribbean, Mexican, Central American, and South American. These first-, second-, and third-generation Latinas have all grappled with the experience of coming of age within not one but two cultures--that of the United States and that of their familial homelands. Hijas Americanas addresses experiences that are uniquely female and Latina, focusing on themes of body image, standards of beauty, ethnic identity, and sexuality. In doing so, Molinary gives voice to the struggles and successes of Latinas across racial, sexual, and cultural identities, emphasizing that the challenges inherent in growing up between two cultures can positively shape Latinas' lives.
Monday, June 16, 7:30pm
Set amidst the outsider worlds of present-day downtown New York, 1990s Los Angeles, and 1940s Mexico City, Like Son is the not-so-simple story of a love-blindness shared between a father and a son. Born a bouncing baby girl named Francisca Cruz, Frank Cruz is now a post-punk thirty-year-old who has inherited his dead father's wanderlust, unrequited love, and hyperbolic tendencies. Felicia Luna Lemus is the author of the novel Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and her writing has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing (Akashic Books). She currently teaches writing at The New School and lives in the East Village of Manhattan.
Monday, February 16, 2009, 7:30pm
Relationship expert and bestselling author Tristan Taormino offers a bold new strategy for creating loving, lasting relationships. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over a hundred women and men, Opening Up explores the real-life benefits and challenges of all styles of open relationships - from partnered non-monogamy to solo polyamory. With her refreshingly down-to-earth style and sharp wit, Taormino offers solutions for making an open relationship work, including tips on dealing with jealousy, negotiating boundaries, finding community, parenting and time management. Opening Up will change the way you think about intimacy
Monday, July 21, 7:30pm
A journalists provocative and spellbinding account of her eighteen months spent disguised as a man Norah Vincent became an instant media sensation with the publication of "Self-Made Man," her take on just how hard it is to be a man, even in a mans world. Following in the tradition of John Howard Griffin ("Black Like Me"), Norah spent a year and a half disguised as her male alter ego, Ned, exploring what men are like when women arent around. As Ned, she joins a bowling team, takes a high-octane sales job, goes on dates with women (and men), visits strip clubs, and even manages to infiltrate a monastery and a mens therapy group. At once thought- provoking and pure fun to read, "Self-Made Man" is a sympathetic and thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism.
Monday, January 19, 2009, 7:30pm
"Why does every one of my friends have an eating disorder, or, at the very least, a screwed-up approach to food and fitness?" writes journalist Courtney E. Martin. The new world culture of eating disorders and food and body issues affects virtually all -- not just a rare few -- of today's young women. They are your sisters, friends, and colleagues -- a generation told that they could "be anything," who instead heard that they had to "be everything." Driven by a relentless quest for perfection, they are on the verge of a breakdown, exhausted from overexercising, binging, purging, and depriving themselves to attain an unhealthy ideal. An emerging new talent, Courtney E. Martin is the voice of a young generation so obsessed with being thin that their consciousness is always focused inward, to the detriment of their careers and relationships. Health and wellness, joy and love have come to seem ancillary compared to the desire for a perfect body. Even though eating disorders first became generally known about twenty-five years ago, they have burgeoned, worsened, become more difficult to treat and more fatal (50 percent of anorexics who do not respond to treatment die within ten years). Consider these statistics: Ten million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Seventy million people worldwide suffer from eating disorders. More than half of American women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five would pre fer to be run over by a truck or die young than be fat. More than two-thirds would rather be mean or stupid. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disease. In "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters," Martin offers original research from the frontlines of the eating disorders battlefield. Drawn from more than a hundred interviews with sufferers, psychologists, nutritionists, sociocultural experts, and others, her expose reveals a new generation of "perfect girls" who are obsessive-compulsive, overachieving, and self-sacrificing in multiple -- and often dangerous -- new ways. Young women are "told over and over again," Martin notes, "that we can be anything. But in those affirmations, assurances, and assertions was a concealed pressure, an unintended message: You are special. You are worth something. But you need to be perfect to live up to that specialness." With its vivid and often heartbreaking personal stories, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" has the power both to shock and to educate. It is a true call to action and cannot be missed.
Monday, February 18, 7:30pm
A $1.3 trillion industry, the US nonprofit sector is the world's seventh largest economy. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates. But even as funding shrinks and government surveillance rises, many activists often find it difficult to imagine movement-building outside the nonprofit model. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded gathers original essays by radical activists from around the globe who are critically rethinking the long-term consequences of this investment. Together with educators and nonprofit staff they finally name the "nonprofit industrial complex" and ask hard questions: How did politics shape the birth of the nonprofit model? How does 501(c)(3) status allow the state to co-opt politi-cal movements? Activists or -careerists? How do we fund the movement outside this complex? Urgent and visionary, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an unbeholden expos of the "nonprofit industrial complex" and its quietly devastating role in managing dissent.
Monday, November 17, 2008, 7:30pm
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and bestselling author of "Backlash," examines America's deeply-rooted attitude toward gender and the enduring power of mythic cultural images from the earliest settler wars to our current "war on terror." In the groundbreaking tradition of "Backlash," "The Terror Dream "looks at the ways in which the media responses to 9/11 manipulated traditional gender roles and rescue fantasies. By returning to America's founding myths, Susan Faludi shows how the terrorist attacks cracked open the master narrative of American prowess. Though they were called unimaginable, the attacks were not the first of their kind; indeed a searing war against European civilians by "terrorists" was the foundational experience of the American colonies. "The Terror Dream "shows how our original "war on terrorism" formed the American character, and how our attempts to suppress our early vulnerability gave birth to a carefully constructed hero narrative that lives on in current day cinema, television, journalism, and public policy. In an argument that spans from colonial captivity narratives to John Wayne films to the fictional rescue of Jessica Lynch, Faludi brilliantly shows how the shock of 9/11 returned us to the deepest American traditions, how our cultural response exposed a gender myth in which our sense of national invincibility rests on men being heroic rescuers, which in turn requires that women be in need of rescue. In the words of Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of "Nickel and Dimed," "This is a book that had to be written, and only Susan Faludi could do it so brilliantly and engrossingly."
Monday, October 20th, 2008 7:30pm
In Bad Habits, twenty-five-year-old graphic artist Cristy Road takes us on an uncensored and largely autobiographical tour of an underground world, one full of wild characters and personal revolutions. We journey through New York City's dive bars, we share drugs in dark bathrooms, and we spend long nights in strange beds. Road's street psychopharmacology results in experiences that are both revelatory and tragic. In her circle, drugs are cheap, ubiquitous, and sometimes feel like the only way out. Writing in a tradition of some of the finest transgressive authors, such as Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, and Kathy Acker, Road takes us deep inside the damaged soul and psyche of her young protagonist with language as violent as the street and sex as raw as the language: "I'm just some bipolar junkie who happened to have been sexually assaulted once or twice, and later mind-fucked by some crass romantic I shouldn't have trusted anyway." Somewhere along this hyperreal tour, our heroine learns to leave her bad habits behind and emerge stronger and more independent, clean and open to love. She's still punk, but she's punk by her own rules--and she finds that life can be about much more than mere survival.
Monday, November 19, 7:30pm
From the authors of Manifesta, an activism handbook that illustrates how to truly make the personal political. "Grassroots" is an activism handbook for social justice. Aimed at everyone from students to professionals, stay-at-home moms to artists, "Grassroots" answers the perennial question: What can I do? Whether you are concerned about the environment, human rights violations in Tibet, campus sexual assault policies, sweatshop labor, gay marriage, or the ongoing repercussions from 9-11, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards believe that we all have something to offer in the fight against injustice. Based on the authors' own experiences, and the stories of both the large number of activists they work with as well as the countless everyday people they have encountered over the years, "Grassroots" encourages people to move beyond the "generic three" (check writing, calling congresspeople, and volunteering) and make a difference with clear guidelines and models for activism. The authors draw heavily on individual stories as examples, inspiring readers to recognize the tools right in front of them--be it the office copier or the family living room--in order to make change. Activism is accessible to all, and "Grassroots" shows how anyone, no matter how much or little time they have to offer, can create a world that more clearly reflects their values.
Monday, October 15, 7:30pm
"The Accidental" is the dizzyingly entertaining, wickedly humorous story of a mysterious stranger whose sudden appearance during a family' s summer holiday transforms four variously unhappy people. Each of the Smarts
Monday, December 22nd, 2008 at 7:30pm to discuss Persepolis.
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips. "Persepolis" is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trails of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--"Persepolis" is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Monday, March 17, 7:30pm
It's So You explores the intersection between style and personal expression through lively essays by 35 top women writers and artists. Six Feet Under Producer Jill Soloway cuts off her hair and wrestles the concept of "hotness"; transgender icon Kate Bornstein details her fashion evolution from flower child to SM leather dyke to couture girly-girl; and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon wonders if getting caught without underwear is the ultimate Hollywood celebutante fashion statement. It's So You celebrates not only the frivolity and playfulness of women's fashion, but also women's ability to find their own styles and delight in fashion--without feeling like they're selling out or buying into consumerism.
Monday, August 18, 7:30pm
In this deeply moving and myth-shattering work, Ann Fessler brings out into the open for the first time the astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade. An adoptee who was herself surrendered during those years and recently made contact with her mother, Ann Fessler brilliantly brings to life the voices of more than a hundred women, as well as the spirit of those times, allowing the women to tell their stories in gripping and intimate detail.
Monday, September 17, 7:30pm
From one of America' s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
Monday, August 20, 7:30pm
Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig -- the new brand of "empowered woman" who embraces "raunch culture" wherever she finds it. In her groundbreaking book, "New York" magazine writer Ariel Levy argues that, 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. 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.
Monday, July 16, 7:30pm
In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate took a cross-country bike trip. As they lay sleeping in the central Oregon desert, a man in a pickup truck deliberately ran over their tent and proceeded to attack them with an axe. The horrific crime was reported in newspapers across the country, but no one was ever arrested. Fifteen years later, Jentz returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered and makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Shockingly, many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange "Piece of Paradise" is a startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of Jentz's brave inner journey from violence to hope.
Monday, June 18, 7:30pm
In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.... Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, "The Handmaid's Tale" is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.
Monday, May 21, 7:30pm
Nobody Passes is a collection of essays that confronts and challenges the very notion of belonging. By examining the perilous intersections of identity, categorization, and community, contributors challenge societal mores and countercultural norms. Nobody Passes explores and critiques the various systems of power seen (or not seen) in the act of "passing." In a pass/fail situation, standards for acceptance may vary, but somebody always gets trampled on. This anthology seeks to eliminate the pressure to pass and thereby unearth the delicious and devastating opportunities for transformation this might create. Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore has a history of editing anthologies based on brazen nonconformity and gender defiance. Nobody Passes is a cutting-edge exploration of the very topical issue of passing. From activism to academia, immigration to appropriation, disability culture to trans communities, this anthology challenges standards of authenticity and destroys notions of acceptability. Mattilda sets out to ask the question, "What lies are people forced to tell in order to gain acceptance as 'real'?" The answers are as varied as the life experiences of the writers who tackle this urgent and essential topic.
Monday, March 19, 7:30pm
In this funny, comforting yet controversial how-to volume, family therapist Dossie Easton and sex educator/writer Catherine A. Liszt provide a road map for exploring the sometimes difficult, often rewarding territory of non-traditional relationships.
Monday, February 19, 7:30pm
Delving into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood, this book takes the reader on a journey into the wedding industrial complex. Anne Kingston looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange celebration of wives who kill; and muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world's wealthiest and most influential women, are both unmarried. The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical, and economic commentary that is bound to stir debate even as it reframes our view of both women and marriage.
Monday, January 15, 7:30pm
The twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of the classic novel that has sold over 250,000 copies Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back again and again for Rufus, yet each time the stay grows longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana"s life will end, long before it has even begun. "In Kindred Octavia Butler creates a road for the impossible, and a balm for the unbearable. It is everything the literature of science fiction can be." --Walter Mosley " Kindred is a shattering work of art with much to say about love, hate, slavery and racial dilemmas, then and now." --Los Angeles Herald Examiner "Truly terrifying. . . . A book you"ll find hard to put down." Essence "Butler"s books are exceptional. . . . She is a realist, writing the most detailed social criticism and creating some of the most fascinating female characters in the genre . . . real women caught in impossible situations." The Village Voice "Butler"s literary craftsmanship is superb."--The Washington Post Book World
Monday, December 18, 7:30pm
A hilarious and satirical look at race relations that is almost too close for comfort, this pseudo-guidebook gives both renters and rentals "much-needed" advice and tips on technique. Reframing actual stories, techniques, requests, and responses gathered from the author's more than 30 years of research and experience, tips are provided in step-by-step outlines for renters to get the most for their money, and how rentals can become successful and wealthy, what they should wear, and topics of conversation to avoid. The book also serves up photo-dramatizations of some of the popular approaches covered in the book, handy tip-boxes, frequently asked questions for renters and rentals, a "How do I know if I'm being rented" quiz, a glossary of important terms, and "quickie" insta-rentals for those who need to rent on the go. Punctuated by quotes from former renters, and featuring rental diaries based on real encounters, this satire shocks and amuses, presenting a strikingly stark mirror of human relationships.
Monday, November 20, 7:30pm
The image of the "Welfare Queen" continues to dominate white America's perceptions of black women and to shape our government's policies concerning black women's reproductive decisions. In Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts explodes the myths about black sexuality that underlie widespread racist perceptions and policies, such as the proposed legislation to deny benefits to children born to welfare mothers. She exposes America's systematic abuse of black women's bodies, from the time of slavery through the 1970s, when government programs coerced thousands of poor black women into being sterilized. Powerfully written, authoritative, and timely, Killing the Black Body will be read and debated for years to come.
Monday, October 16, 7:30pm
Max Rabinowitz, a butch lesbian bartender at an East Village club, is shaken when her friend, a transvestite, is murdered. As the community of cross-dressers, drag queens, lesbians, and gay men stand together in the face of this tragedy, Max taps into the activist spirit she thought had disappeared.