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Pink Think: Becoming A Woman In Many Uneasy Lessons
By Lynn Peril

Today's popular culture may fascistically demand taut tummies coupled with unlikely bog buoyant breasts, but how'd you like to have to rigorously sanitize every bodily orifice and bake cupcakes to book? Lynn Peril, founder of the popular 'zine Mystery Date, has now turned her obsession with archaic women's etiquette books and self-help manuals into Pink think (W.W. Norton), an alternately hilarious, creepy book on the juggernaut of relentless conditioning women underwent for most of the 20th century. "Pink think," explains Peril, "is a set of ideas and attitudes about what constitutes proper female behavior."

Entire industries have flourished alerting the fairer sex to just how very many (many) things are wrong with them. (They don't call it home economics for nothing!) Peril's pop culture history explores the myriad of ways a rather draconian feminine ideal made its insidious way into literature, advertisements, textbooks, and the hearts and minds of generations of women.

Using numerous examples from her encyclopedic collection, Peril details the often hilariously misguided and hellishly misogynist advise foisted upon women to keep them on the straight and fembot narrow. It would be funny, if so many millions of sanitized saints with girdled figures and curdled dreams hadn't bought into this claptrap. Assuming Peril must also feel amused and yet dismayed by the dogma, one can't help but suspect that Pink think suffered from some stinking pink thinking on her editor's part; the book would have benefited from more snarky commentary about how patronizing and damaging this ephemera has been and more insights about the impact "Pink think" has had on individuals and society. More illustrations would have been welcome too, as no amount of explanatory text makes the case half as well as one dumb-ass as.

All in all, Lynn Peril does a great job and lets the reader infer the toll pink thinking has taken on our grandmothers, our mothers, and ourselves. Here's hoping our daughters' thinking will be rosy—but relatively pink-free.

—Dixie Feldman

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