And a great time to pause and critically think about the portrayal of women in American culture. The following books deconstruct images of women in different media, including literature, comics, Internet, and television. The works not only address stereotypes, but also celebrate the emergence of women’s voices in areas where they were previously marginalized.
Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport by Jaime Schultz
Schultz writes a history of cultural and material changes that made women’s participation in sports possible and acceptable, such as tennis wear, tampons, and the aesthetic fitness movement. At the same time, Schultz argues that these changes furthered gender differentiation, making progression in U.S. women’s sport ambivalent.
Troubling Borders: an Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora edited by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Mariam B. Lam, and Kathy L. Nguyen
A collection of images and texts reflecting a diversity of Southeast Asian women’s experiences, this work breaks stereotypes in the popular imagination and serves as an entry point for discussing the history, memory, and identity of this marginalized group of women.
Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature by Ayesha K. Hardison
Writing through Jane Crow is about the representation of black women in African American literature from the 1940s and 1950s. Hardison analyzes the writings of literary greats, including Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Richard Wright, in critical light to reveal the tensions of the era. She also argues that black women’s literature from this time set the stage for works that followed.
Hanley contextualizes Wonder Woman and uncovers her creators’ myriad motivations in portraying the character differently over time. He writes about her feminist roots, advocating female superiority in the 1940s, loss of superpowers and agency in the 1950s and 1960s, and return as a feminist symbol in the 1970s.
Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley
Whaley writes about African American women in the comic culture from the appearance of the first black superheroine, “The Butterfly,” in 1971 to increasing numbers of female African American artists and comic book viewers today. Whaley examines the treatment of black women in art as part of larger racial ideologies at play in the United States.
The Sexy Science of The Big Bang Theory: Essays on Gender in the Series edited by Nadine Farghaly and Eden Leone
A collection of essays exploring sexual themes in The Big Bang Theory, this book includes reflections on the television series’ treatment of gender issues and ideals of femininity and masculinity.
I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet by Leora Tanenbaum
Tanenbaum examines the persistence of a sexual double standard in the digital age, where young women are encouraged to express themselves sexually, but are stereotyped as ‘sluts’ for doing so. Tanenbaum offers insight into the devastating effects of sexual stereotyping on young women as well as advice on eradicating slut-shaming.