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Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women Hardcover – September 1, 2010

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"…Lavin is well-versed in this kind of interdisciplinary negotiation and…handles the task of juxtaposing seemingly disparate media eloquently and efficiently." -- Art Journal

"A timely, insightful look at contemporary representations of women's aggression and their impact on women's real lives.... Accessible, engaging, and grounded in reality. It's a uniquely useful book, one that provides a dynamic framework that could encompass explorations of an even wider range of women's aggression, such as roller derby or Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Here's hoping that Lavin's work pushes more critics and writers to undertake those explorations." Tammy Oler Bitch magazine

"Push Comes to Shove is eloquent and inspiring. Simultaneously realistic and hopeful about the place and reception of strong women in contemporary society, this is an important book for all researchers on women and girls, and will be of interest to general audiences as well." Leslie Heywood, author of Pretty Good for a Girl and Built to Win

"In Push Comes to Shove, Maud Lavin puts to words a motivational truth for brave women everywhere if we sit around and wait to be given what is rightfully ours, then we will sit around and wait forever. Sometimes we just have to grab it and not look back." Keala Kennelly, big wave surfer and the first woman to tow-in surf at Teahupo'o in Tahiti

"In investigating the nuances of feminine aggression and its various forms of expression both historically and in contemporary culture, Maud Lavin also documents how we can understand it as a deeply productive and often necessary drive. Better yet, with her characteristic energy and invention, she imagines it as a force at once creative, comedic, erotic--which is to say, one that is not restricting, but rather, both enriching and exhilarating." Akiko Busch, author of Nine Ways to Cross a River

From the Author


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262123096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262123099
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,591,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maud Lavin is a nonfiction writer. Her books include Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women (MIT, 2010); Clean New World: Culture, Politics and Graphic Design (MIT, 2001); and Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Hoech (Yale, 1993). As editor and coauthor, she has also published The Oldest We've Ever Been (Arizona, 2008) and The Business of Holidays (Monacelli/Random House, 2004). Push Comes to Shove was completed with the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Clean New World with the aid of an NEA grant. She is a professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She's into Pilates, reading mysteries, great conversation, traveling to Asia, and goofing off. She is currently doing research for her new book, Lipstick Dreams, on images of femininity in contemporary China, South Korea, and the U.S.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Push Comes to Shove is a fantastic book on women and aggression. From "Kill Bill" to "Bring it On" to Kara Walker, the images she uses are fascinating and diverse. Lavin views aggression not as a negative force, but as a necessary catalyst in creating change. Interesting to read into this in pop culture. I especially loved the chapter on Blue Crush, Stick It, and Bring it On. Who knew these charming sports girl movies could mean so much?
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That burning anger inside you, that thing that people tell you is unhealthy, irrational and abnormal. When the whole world is telling you to assimilate, this book is the place to lean your head. To those surrounded by references to feminism as the "f" word, this book is an inspiration. No, it isn't 1994, but it's increasingly important to document the history of women's social engagement, struggle, and to praise their accomplishments. Lavin's focus on how empowering the process of struggle can be is spot on. It's also important to remember that herstory is important, and it should never stop being told.

Personal feelings aside, it's best to read Juliet Mitchell's ideas on sibling play before reading this book. Lavin's theories on representations of challenge, struggle, defeatism, victory and loss in the media are largely based on Mitchell's ideas. The media she chooses to focus on are definitely pop culture. She dissects this typically sneered at reference, pointing out the actor/ mediator relationship. The actresses physically model themselves after professional athletes, and young women model themselves after the actresses, meanwhile the athletes are modeling themselves after the actresses in order to be actresses. This kind of feedback loop creates an enthusiastic and spirited relationship between heroine and the degrees of removed fan base, something typically exaggerated by popular media.

Lavin also talks about aggression and sexuality, and the conflict between fear of expressing violence vs finding a healthy outlet. She uses media from the NYC art scene, to video games and mainstream films like Kill Bill.
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