Top positive review
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Read this book!
on March 30, 2015
Serano’s “Excluded” is a book that I found both inspiring and frustrating. The book was inspiring because Serano has a clear, interesting way of explaining her points about gender and sex discrimination. I found myself constantly reading passages out loud or marking them, saying, “This! I have seen/experienced this!” However, the book was also frustrating because the information that Serano provided was so clear and concise that I wished it could be given to a broader audience. Serano’s book would be an excellent primer about double-standards, the idea of privilege, and some of the basic terms surrounding the social justice movement. I feel, though, that many of the people who would benefit from reading this book would never pick it up.
The subtitle, “Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive” would immediately put some people off. For whatever reason, (and I’m inclined to see it as a deliberate insidious move) feminism has become a dirty word. I know many confident, bright women who take great pains that they are not “feminists” but rather “humanists.” The logic being that feminists obviously want to create a matriarchy rather than a patriarchy and foster a different, opposite type of impression. Reading Serano’s book, as well as books by others, would show people how this is a virulent misconception, but the stigma attached to the term cannot be merely wiped away.
Serano’s idea of a holistic view of feminism, and her broader ideas about addressing marginalization in society, is revolutionary in its simplicity. The basic jist is that old libertarian chestnut of JS Mill: let everyone do as they please as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. She goes on to elaborate that the thoughts, experiences, and lives of others should be respected, but different belief systems should never be pushed onto each other.
Serano makes the bold move of addressing this idea of holistic feminism TO the movement. Those in social justice circles may be intimately familiar with the ways that they are policed by advocates and opponents alike—behavior is frequently proscribed on both sides. Serano’s view would make sure that no one tried to impose dogmatic edicts on others, no matter how “progressive” these edicts might be.
I am doing a very poor job of explaining her argument, and I have not even touched on the way that Serano talks about her life experiences as a male-to-female trans-bisexual and uses her lived experiences to illustrate some of her points. I have not touched on her identified binaries, discussion of the marked and unmarked, or any of the more complicated theories she lays out. And even if I did, I would certainly not be as eloquent and heartfelt as Serano herself is.
Read this book. Read this book even if you think feminism is poison. Read this book if you think transsexuals (Serano’s preferred term, not mine) are deviant. Read this book if you are an activist. Read this book if you are trans. Just read this book, and try to share it with others who would not pick this book up because of it’s cover.