03 May 2011

Review: Mothers, monsters, whores by Laura Sjoberg and Caron E. Gentry

Well, the cover is ok... But it only goes downhill from here.

(Disclaimer: I am not a social scientist and have only a casual interest in select social science topics; feminism or women's studies are certainly not among those topics, neither is much of current global politics)

I admit feminism has never been a favorite subjects of mine, and this book did little to change that. The authors have clearly devoted a significant amount of time to gathering data, which I'm sure is of great interest to other sociologists looking for sources to cite. For me, the text connecting that data immediately entered a bitter conflict with my attention, and my attention promptly surrendered, routed, and unethically run down and speared in the back by heavy cavalry, massacred to the last man, child, and yes, woman.

The high point was the attempt at illustrating stereotypes of violent women (and I actually felt like the book was finally delivering on the title's promise), which I found interesting, however the claims lacked confidence and brevity and I soon found myself getting tangled up in the morass disorganized arguments.

I disliked how the book appeared to be mainly concerned with finely dissecting the Abu Gharib scandal and the Chechen and Middle Eastern suicide bombers. It felt like it was trying to frame "women" as some new thing invented some fifty years ago which people only now are beginning to seriously examine. Only passing examination of historical prevalence of important sociopolitical events and trends (the book talks about no trends) where women were involved was made, and I could not derive any sane, useful, meaningful "general" (if only in the sense of "applies to something besides the authors' strange take on a single isolated incident") conclusion- either such things were deemed unnecessary, or were buried far too deep beneath the convoluted language for me to find.

Throughout, I could not help feeling being mistaken for a well-informed academic in the authors' particular field of study- so many "why should I care? Why is this important?" questions I inevitably found myself asking were nonchalantly ignored. Perhaps if I was a well informed expert, I would have enjoyed this book more, but as it is... Umm. Yes. I would say it is almost a waste of time unless you are a raging feminist or bored sociologist.

Score: 1/5

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