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Showing 1-10 of 21 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 24 reviews
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.
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on October 9, 2013
I cannot recommend this book enough. Serano has gotten me to re-evaluate my own ideas on gender, privilege and feminism. As a more masculine identified queer woman, I have dealt with a lot of pressure to act more femininely. For much of my life, this pressure made me resent femininity and I fell into the trap of regarding it as trivial and artificial compared to masculinity. This book, like her previous one, has made me understand how this attitude was really misplaced blame rooted in misogyny. Her writing has helped me better relate to and respect many of the people in my life and has even helped me at work where I create and sell things geared towards women.

I love that Serano's writing is accessible, relates some of her own experiences and has ideas that affect my day-to-day thinking and discussions with others. At the same time, her theory of gender incorporates the complex relationships between different influences that are usually overlooked in more technical writing. The discussion of feminism and double standards has nicely articulated many of the frustrations I feel just from reading the news lately. What she says about exclusion within feminist and queer movements is especially important because it is easy to fall into the trap of privileging certain marginalized groups at the expense of others and in ways that reinforce the systems that disempower groups in the first place. I have noticed certain trends in my own social groups and this book has raised my awareness of why such attitudes are hypocritical and problematic. She also presents a compelling case for the term 'bisexual' that has made me reconsider my own reluctance to use the word.

I could go on in detail but mostly I recommend this book to anyone because gender plays a huge role in almost all of our lives and it is very helpful to consider the ways in which our assumptions and behaviors around such issues can be detrimental to ourselves and those around us without us even realizing it.
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on August 1, 2016
I enjoyed Serano's stories at the start of the book. The introduction felt repetitive, as did the reminders and qualifiers and acronyms as the book went on - I can see how this would be good for someone with no insider in the trans community to explain terms, etc. I imagine this would be a valuable resource for someone researching or writing a paper, but as a more casual read I would not recommend.
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on March 8, 2017
Love this book, and I cannot recommend it enough. Thank you Julia, for continuing to speak your truth! <3
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on July 18, 2016
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I can unhesitatingly say that this is one of the best books I've read in 2014. Julia Serano is a very thoughtful writer who articulates a lot that, frankly, needs to be articulated. The gist of the book is that contemporary feminism polices sexuality and gender expressions within its ranks just as much as the heterosexist, masculinist, or monosexist folks they protest against. For instance, while a great many people treat homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and other "abnormal" sexuality or gender expressions as inferior, feminists often treat 'conventional' expressions (like females expressing femininity or male-to-female transsexuality) as suspect.

The author is a male-to-female transsexual (whose gender expression is feminine), and her perspective provides her with useful insights that might elude others. The first half of the book is a collection of autobiographical essays documenting the awkwardness of not being accepted in queer and feminist spaces. The common theme here is both that the author is often judged as somewhat inferior because she chose to change sex from male to female and gravitates towards feminine gender expressions. Transsexuality, it seems, is suspect both because to some, the author will never 'really' be a woman, and because in changing sex, the author does not 'challenge the gender binary' to many feminists' liking. And then there is the fact that Serano is feminine, which she recounts is often viewed suspiciously by those who want everyone to challenge existing gender norms.... even at the expense of doing what is natural to them.

The second half of the book is a more theoretical elucidation of what Serano thinks is wrong with current feminism and what she thinks feminists could do to become more inclusive. Several essays here are themselves easily worth the price of the book. Particularly, as a biologist, Serano devotes several chapters that challenge the "social artifactualism" that exists in feminist and queer thought that sees gender solely as a social performance with no biological influence. Serano champions a more holistic view of social construcionism that sees biology as one element that plays into determining what our preferences will be, but noting that culture, environment, and individual choice all interact with biology in a way where these four variables cannot be meaningfully disentangled. As much as I admire Serano's theory, I must say that by my understanding of biology (and behavioral genetics), her view is probably closer to the norm than most people would suspect. (See Evelyn Fox Keller's book The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture for a similar articulation.) Very few behavioral geneticists believe that one can disentangle the genetics that help determine a trait's expression from the environmental and cultural factors that determine a trait's expression.

Then, there are some REALLY good chapters where the author argues that all of us are likely victims of double standards that we face regarding our identities. The important thing, for Serano, is less that we fight patriarchy, heterosexism, and the like. As important as those things are, the important thing is to fight for a world where people can be who they'd like to be without ostracism, coercion, or fear of being judged inferior. We can fight patriarchy, but when that becomes a way to exlude anyone who identifies with 'convetional' gender identities as inferior because they are not challenging the gender binary, then we simply replace one judgmental 'ism' with another.

This is a wonderful book. Serano says many things that probably need to be said. In a world where a fair amount of feminist and queer theory seem to be getting repetitive, Serano provides some very useful critique that, if taken seriously, might change both areas of study for the better.
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on February 28, 2014
This book really takes into account how multiple theories of activism is important and how over simplifying can me detrimental to activist progress. The topic of her personal story also adds a grounded and honest feel to the book as well.
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on February 3, 2014
Ms Serano reveals in this book how many of the mechanisms underpinning discrimination and marginalization works by exposing cultural and sexist double standards. She then applies this knowledge to further reveal how transsexual women are specifically targeted and doubly discriminated against on account of being both women and visibly trans. I would recommend this book to readers who are interested in gaining a better understanding of the myriad ways in which women are suppressed.
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on May 12, 2014
I admit I'm rather partial to Julia Serano's work, but this is still one of the better nonfiction books I've read this year. It is a bit focused on activist spaces, but that's exactly what it says in the title.
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on December 23, 2014
If you appreciate clarity, the spotlighting and deconstruction of sociopolitical dynamics, this book is exhilarating. Julia Serano is smart, insightful, and personally engaged. I so appreciate her writing and perspective.
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