Think: Becoming A Woman In Many Uneasy Lessons
By Lynn Peril
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
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.
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.
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 rosybut relatively pink-free.