[[ BOOKS ]] ✫ Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power Author Sady Doyle – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power Women Have Always Been Seen As Monsters Men From Aristotle To Freud Have Insisted That Women Are Freakish Creatures, Capable Of Immense Destruction Maybe They Are And Maybe That S A Good Thing Sady Doyle, Hailed As Smart, Funny And Fearless By The Boston Globe, Takes Readers On A Tour Of The Female Dark Side, From The Biblical Lilith To Dracula S Lucy Westenra, From The T Rex In Jurassic Park To The Teen Witches Of The Craft She Illuminates The Women Who Have Shaped Our Nightmares Serial Killer Ed Gein S Domineering Mother Augusta Exorcism Casualty Anneliese Michel, Starving Herself To Death To Quell Her Demons Author Mary Shelley, Dreaming Her Dead Child Back To Life These Monsters Embody Patriarchal Fear Of Women, And Illustrate The Violence With Which Men Enforce Traditionally Feminine Roles They Also Speak To The Primal Threat Of A Woman Who Takes Back Her Power In A Dark And Dangerous World,Dead Blondes And Bad Mothers Asks Women To Look To Monsters For The Ferocity We All Need To Survive Some People Take A Scalpel To The Heart Of Media Culture Sady Doyle Brings A Bone Saw, A Melon Baller, And A Machete Andi Zeisler, Author Of We Were Feminists Once


About the Author: Sady Doyle

Sady Doyle is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.In 2008, Sady founded Tiger Beatdown, a pioneering blog in the 3,500 word long rants about Tina Fey s career space While at Tiger Beatdown, she led several successful social media awareness campaigns, including MooreandMe and MenCallMeThings, and won the Women s Media Center Social Media Award in 2011 Sady has been a staff writer at In These Times Magazine since 2011 She was also one of the original staff writers at Rookie Magazine her pieces can be found in Rookie Yearbook One and Yearbook Two and she contributed several pieces to the bestselling Book of Jezebel.In addition to all of the above, she s spoken at Harvard, SXSW, and Netroots Nation Her pieces have appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Awl, Buzzfeed, and all across the Internet If you d like to ask Sady to give a talk, or to write for you, please do come say hi.



10 thoughts on “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power

  1. says:

    I requested this book from my library when I saw a friend reading it because honestly, who could resist that title and then impatiently waited the 13 weeks for it to be available And I think the wait was totally worth it I have been reading a lotnonfiction books the last few years, on a variety of different topics including a fair bit of feminist work, but this was a very different beast pardon the pun This book examines how patriarchal norms have influenced culture and media, and I requested this book from my library when I saw a friend reading it because honestly, who could resist that title and then impatiently waited the 13 weeks for it to be available And I think the wait was totally worth it I have been reading a lotnonfiction books the last few years, on a variety of different topics including a fair bit of feminist work, but this was a very different beast pardon the pun This book examines how patriarchal norms have influenced culture and media, and honestly, a lot of it made me feel ignorant as hell for not noticing the trends myself, especially since I m a big fan of these genres, and some of the works referenced are ones that I ve seen or read multiple times I don t know if I ll be able to look at a lot of literature, pop culture, and cult classics the same way again In fact, it s already begun My husband watched Unabomber In His Own Words on Netflix the other day, and one of the people interviewed in the documentary was Peter Vronsky, and I was like Oh shit, that s the dude who demonized Ed Gein s mother Hubs was understandably confused as to why I was ranting about a completely unrelated murderer s mom, but I kept a much closer eye out from that point on to see what Mr His Mama Made Him Vronsky had to say about Mrs Kaczynsky, you can bet that Turns out nada He assigned his blame elsewhere This is my future, folks After reading this book, the world can never be the same And I think I m OK with that So much of my reading lately has been the kind that teaches me something, helps me to better understand the world and different people s experiences in it, and politics and policies and biases and history, and just so many things I read to learn and grow and be a better human A lot of that reading is of the soul crushingly hard to read variety, though My other TWO currently reading books are of that type One of those I just started this morning before work and already highlighted 15 times and nearly had a rage aneurysm 18 pages in Good times So reading THIS book was refreshing because, though it s serious in terms of analysis and subject matter and purpose, it doesn t feel so heavy and brutal though at times it definitely does get dark as hell The way Doyle writes manages to mostly give this a lighter tone and feel, despite the often horrific situations described, without making light of them at all I don t really know how to describe it, but it could have EASILY gone very dark and soul crushy, and she managed to not let it And that s commendable It felt conversational Like a chat between friends, one of whom is like Oh, let me tell you something about The Exorcist And then she proceeds to describe it, and in particular THAT SCENE, in disturbing new terms Terms that are so obvious once called out, but ones that leave their friend reeling and shocked More shocked than the original scene left her, even You know the one Yes THAT one Because, when you think about the connotations of how pubescent girls are viewed through the male lens, as though we are ineffable, strange creatures going through some mysterious transformation of body and mind, turning us into unrecognizable, untouchable, unfathomable, and worst, unmanageable OTHERs, it changes EVERYTHING The demon possession is no longer an external thing that happens TO girls, it IS girls One criticism I have for this book and there are only two is that during her examination and analysis of literature and movies featuring women as either monsters or monstrous, she spoiled the plots of several movies and books that I ve yet to experience, despite some of them being classics I didn t really expect that to be what this book was, and it does somewhat annoy me when writers do this because I feel like they should know, better than anyone, that every book and movie is new to every reader and watcher at some point, and there are bound to be readers of THEIR book that haven t read every book or seen every movie referenced within it I would have liked a warning, maybe a head s up list of the books and movies discussed so I could at least enter into this knowingly and willingly, instead of it just being thrown at me Now, when I watch these movies or read these books because I love horror and true crime and gothic classics, and still do intend to do so I won t have the same experience as I would have otherwise And partially, that s because I have a different experience every single time I read a book, because I am a slightly different person every day I havelife under my belt, andexperience, and maybe a new perspective based on something I ve read or seen or heard or whatever And so, having read this, my experience reading any book going forward will be altered, now that my attention has been drawn to these issues But it will also suffer knowing some of the influences and stories BEHIND the inspiration for the work s , as well as the plot of some of them And that s something I wish I didn t necessarily have going in Oh well My other criticism is that I felt that Doyle got a bit hyperbolic occasionally, and even if it s justified which I think it is in a lot of cases I don t think that it was justified well enough in the text for that particular statement or conclusion It s like I make this statement, and based on everything else I ve said before, you should just go with it An example True crime, like the slashers, require a dead girl No they don t That s a patently false statement that comes across as sensationalist True crime just requires a crime, and someone to investigate it and provide the story a medium for retelling Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men, and has nearly as many books written about him based on my 10 seconds of Googling I consider myself a feminist and I m OK with taking a certain amount of liberty in interpretation of attitudes and social norms etc, but I also strive to be fair and as accurate as I can be with my arguably non expert self when it comes to verifiable, objective fact That being said, I found the great majority of Doyle s arguments to be well reasoned and persuasive I highlighted the hell out of this book, and made a ton of notes INCLUDING the entire bibliography and movie reference list, because I am just that kind of nerd There were a lot of sections that I found myself wishing that she d analyzed this book or that movie I really, REALLY want to know how she would view some of the characters, and OH MAN, I would love to see what she has to say about King s feminist book Sleeping Beauties I bet it would be a glorious takedown that would be magnificent to behold Alas, I ll just have to imagine it in my mind and be satisfied with my own rant about it One thing that Doyle absolutely got right in HER feminist book that King absolutely got wrong in his is the fact that trans and non binary people exist I loved the inclusivity and acceptance of every kind of feminist, no matter what their body looks like or what their birth certificate says I really appreciated that Anyway, for the most part I really loved this, and I wish that I could articulate effectively all the thoughts and impressions that I had while reading it, though we d be here a long time if I did but I won t Instead, I ll leave you with this anecdote I started reading this on my mom s birthday unintentionally, it just worked out like that because I was on a plane and needed something to read and this had jumped to the top of my list by being available FINALLY from the library and when I took her out for lunch a few days later We had to work and I took her on the weekend I m not a monster Oh wait Apparently I am O_O I told her that I was reading a book called Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers and she was like Which one am I I laughed and said, Well you re not blonde soooo Poor mom She walked right into it


  2. says:

    As someone who loves horror, has an interest in women s history, and has a darker sense of humour, I fell in love with this book before I was even finished reading its introduction The book covers everything from odd true crime cases and often how they go on to influence pop culture , The Exorcist and several other horror gems like Dracula, The Craft, Carrie, and even Godzilla and Twin Peaks , witchcraft, menstruation, motherhood, female sexuality, etc It s super informative though not wit As someone who loves horror, has an interest in women s history, and has a darker sense of humour, I fell in love with this book before I was even finished reading its introduction The book covers everything from odd true crime cases and often how they go on to influence pop culture , The Exorcist and several other horror gems like Dracula, The Craft, Carrie, and even Godzilla and Twin Peaks , witchcraft, menstruation, motherhood, female sexuality, etc It s super informative though not without some hyperbole that I chalk up to Sady Doyle being super fucking hype for this stuff and it s written in a way that is both humourous and empowering, all while being genuinely thought provoking.I could spend the entire afternoon gushing over and describing this book in depth or attempting to analyze the topics it examines, but I m not going to, because I think, simply, it speaks for itself I love anything relating to what Doyle refers to as female monstrosity , and if those words speak mean anything to you at all as well, or catch your attention for whatever reason, this is definitely a book you should read


  3. says:

    If you feel like women are reaching a boiling point if you question why we think about daughters, mothers, and wives the way we do if you ve always wondered where it all came from and where it might be heading. read this book In her compulsively readable, feminist manifesto, Sady Doyle takes a sharp look at mythology, pop culture, and real women through a lens to see how patriarchy was, is, and always has been how we see women Completely fascinating the couple pages of Jurassic Park alo If you feel like women are reaching a boiling point if you question why we think about daughters, mothers, and wives the way we do if you ve always wondered where it all came from and where it might be heading. read this book In her compulsively readable, feminist manifesto, Sady Doyle takes a sharp look at mythology, pop culture, and real women through a lens to see how patriarchy was, is, and always has been how we see women Completely fascinating the couple pages of Jurassic Park alone have me rethinking some things I loved how she took familiar movies and mythologies and tied them to real women and situations It really is a book to dive back into again and again when you re tired of the bull and need to remember why the patriarchy sucks and how we can see it for what it really is Ending with a call to action, and a look at the most recent presidential election, I found myself feeling hopeful for the first time in a while even though I know that will come crashing down the next time I read the news


  4. says:

    Solid Lilith Fare.Doyle approaches the immense spread and pressure of patriarchy via popular media through the ages myths to movies This is an easy to grasp format that doesn t sacrifice while demonstrating how pervasive the concept of heterosexual male dominance has been and still is as given through the lens of storytelling from history a narrative told by subsequent peoples to mass hysteria, Salem witch trials, e.g., to horror film genre to literature and so on and so on .Doyle s insi Solid Lilith Fare.Doyle approaches the immense spread and pressure of patriarchy via popular media through the ages myths to movies This is an easy to grasp format that doesn t sacrifice while demonstrating how pervasive the concept of heterosexual male dominance has been and still is as given through the lens of storytelling from history a narrative told by subsequent peoples to mass hysteria, Salem witch trials, e.g., to horror film genre to literature and so on and so on .Doyle s insights into Frankenstein were great, one of my favorite books And I chuckled when Doyle discussed Oresteia trilogy because I was astounded by the subversion of the chthonic gods to the sky gods, aka submission of earth goddesses by the sky gods as seen in Athena s dialogue with the Furies in Eumenides Athena sublimates them under her aegis The real life horror stories outweigh the film versions, but it discusses the popularity of horror movies with young women.Overall, recommended read My thanks to Becky, it was in her feed that I saw this book


  5. says:

    Women are monsters, according to the patriarchy That s the thesis of Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power, Sady Doyle s follow up to her 2016 Trainwreck The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear and Why To elaborate a bit , Doyle argues that the portrayal of women and femininity in our media and culture overlaps with our understanding of the monstrous, the Other, the unnatural or unholy, and in this way patriarchal structures encoura Women are monsters, according to the patriarchy That s the thesis of Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power, Sady Doyle s follow up to her 2016 Trainwreck The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear and Why To elaborate a bit , Doyle argues that the portrayal of women and femininity in our media and culture overlaps with our understanding of the monstrous, the Other, the unnatural or unholy, and in this way patriarchal structures encourage people of all genders to view male as normal and default and female as deviant It s one of those theses that seems obvious once you sit and think about it, if you re of a feminist bent like myself, but what makes this book special is the consummate skill Doyle brings to synthesizing all these various real life and fictional portrayals of women as the monster The research and thought on display here is impressive.Doyle divides the book into three parts daughters, wives, and mothers Each part has two or three chapters devoted to social structures or cultural constructs puberty, virginity, seduction, marriage, birth, family, and bad mothers, respectively that Doyle then analyzes through a feminist lens and through the intertextuality of horror and true crime She references historical materials from the nineteenth century as well as fictional works like Mary Shelley s Frankenstein she references modern movies and TV shows Thus spanning several centuries of culture, the book seeks to establish that these phenomena are not limited to any one time or place They are inherent in the fabric of any patriarchy, this need to oppress women and influence the behaviour of men by portraying them as monstrous.Why only 3 stars Honestly, the book doesn t live up to what I was expecting to find That s not a criticism this is a good book I just had a wildly inaccurate idea of what it would be in my head, something that didn t involve such a detailed tour through the landscape of horror fiction a genre that just isn t something I tend to enjoy watching or thinking about If you are a fan of horror and of horror criticism, you will like this book a lotthan I do, I hope the subject matter that Doyle uses just doesn t quite align with my interests, as interesting as her writing and ideas remain I enjoyed this book and found it thought provoking, but it doesn t sing to me, much in the way that a book about math might teach someone else something but not stir the same type of love it will for me.That was a long winded way of saying your mileage may vary, I know But I needed to put that out there, because my other difficulty in this review is trying to decide what I ve learned from this book versus what I already knew but just enjoyed hearing someone else say By this I mean, everything in here basically makes sense to me I ve read other texts that examine the portrayal of women and women s bodies as monstrous Doyle cites Ginger Snaps, which is 19 years old at this point, oh wow, and is a horror movie I actually did enjoy Now, Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers has a broader scope and deeper analysis than most of those texts, which tended either to be fiction or shorter articles So I do think Doyle is making a valuable contribution to this field It s just tough for me to get excited about any of her particular ideas One of the most significant feelings I have coming out of this book is a desire for some writing along these lines specifically about Supernatural, a fantasy horror show which I absolutely adore but which I have to admit, when examined from a feminist lens, is problematic as all get out.Here s one specific piece of praise Doyle articulates why TERFs are not actually feminists quite well She points out that the long held historical need to marginalize and demonize trans people particularly trans women serves the patriarchy s agenda Though the hatred for trans and queer women is louder andintense it nevertheless stems from the same basic patriarchal need for control This comes from a much longer section discussing trans people and their exclusion othering Well said TERFs claim that trans women are not, somehow, as real women as cis women are Yet this need to control what defines a woman and as the Virginia Woolf epigraph of this book explains, that is a nearly impossible task stems itself from patriarchal ideas about sex and gender roles in our society, grounded firmly in the idea of male access and control over reproduction Doyle discusses and generally attempts to make as much space for trans people in this book as she can, given her own identity as a cis women she points out that trans people can and should write books along these lines using their own perspectives to guide the analysis, and as she says, I would totally read those books too.I think the best audience for this book would be people who have a bitinterest in horror or true crime stuff than I do Don t let this pronouncement dissuade you from reading this if you re at all intrigued, mind you but this is ultimately a book of feminist literary criticism grounded within an early 21st century awareness of cultural commentary It would make an excellent textbook for a university class analyzing the modern horror genre And it is fit for general reading consumption too It didn t wow me quite as much as Trainwreck or, indeed, some of the other feminist writing I ve read recently But that s ok It still left me with lots to think about, and that alone is an excellent thing for a book to do


  6. says:

    Holy shit this book was so good Love horror Love women THEN HAVE I GOT A BOOK FOR YOU Don t Then why are we even friends


  7. says:

    As much as I loved Doyle s last book, this one was a bit of a mixed bag for me I think her analysis of culture casting women as monstrous is both valid and important, but in condensing her examples, I feel that she sometimes leaves out crucial details that don t support her case For instance, she contrasts Aileen Wuornos s six death sentences to Gary Ridgway s life imprisonment but fails to mention a Ridgway has 48 life sentences plus 480 years and b he was spared the death penalty in exchan As much as I loved Doyle s last book, this one was a bit of a mixed bag for me I think her analysis of culture casting women as monstrous is both valid and important, but in condensing her examples, I feel that she sometimes leaves out crucial details that don t support her case For instance, she contrasts Aileen Wuornos s six death sentences to Gary Ridgway s life imprisonment but fails to mention a Ridgway has 48 life sentences plus 480 years and b he was spared the death penalty in exchange for identifying unknown victims While Wuornos s sentence was lamentable, I don t think it s fair to compare their circumstances


  8. says:

    Men have long believed that women our desires, bodies, and demands for equality and autonomy are monstrous You see, if women are free to make their own decisions, it would destroy the patriarchy, and we can t have that Here Sady Doyle takes a look at myth and horror through a feminist lens to discover what these stories can tell us, and how all those horror movie lessons are meant to oppress women by making their autonomy from men, from pregnancy, from motherhood, from the patriarchy into so Men have long believed that women our desires, bodies, and demands for equality and autonomy are monstrous You see, if women are free to make their own decisions, it would destroy the patriarchy, and we can t have that Here Sady Doyle takes a look at myth and horror through a feminist lens to discover what these stories can tell us, and how all those horror movie lessons are meant to oppress women by making their autonomy from men, from pregnancy, from motherhood, from the patriarchy into something monstrous Women are defined from the outside, in terms of how they seem to men, rather from the inside, as thinking, feeling subjects They are not fellow people, not even a different or worse variety of person, but simply the opposite of men, and hence, the opposite of human The book is divided up into the three things women are expected to be daughters, wives, and mothers, and as part of each Doyle focuses on menstruation, heterosexual sex and marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood, not as she says in the introduction because these are the only ways to be a woman, or married, or a parent, but because of the societal expectations, and pressures, surrounding these issues.The myths and monsters she investigates mostly concern cisgender girls and women, but at least once a chapter Doyle reminds the reader that trans people exist, and non gender conforming people exist, that queer people exist, that men can get pregnant, and that women can impregnate their partners we just don t have as many cultural expectations about them, instead what we have is horror stories, like Silence of the Lambs, one of the films Doyle discusses in the book.Despite these periodic reminders, there s not much trans inclusion here Part of that is because of Doyle s central argument, but the rest is due to the patriarchy s tendency toward gender essentialism, and Doyle thoroughly explains how the patriarchy developed this system to benefit itself, and it isn t benefited by acknowledging the diversity of human life There s just men, and women, and those women need to simmer down The promise of patriarchy is that every man will exercise absolute power and control over at least one woman, and that lucky men will exercise power and control over other men as well The evils of patriarchy laws against gender transition, against same sex marriage, against abortion, against anything that provides a challenge or a workable alternative to the nuclear family ruled by the male father god are inexhaustible And the weakness of patriarchy the big, red, DO NOT TOUCH THIS BUTTON button, the exhaust vent on the Death Star of Western Civilization is women There is some discussion of race, mostly with regards to black women, but you can tell by the title dead blondes this is going to be mostly about white women because that s where the patriarchy s interests and anxieties lie JonBen t Ramsey, for example Because, yes, this book is also about true crime Fans of the podcast My Favorite Murder which Doyle mentions by name will recognize the argument that women and other marginalized genders take an interest in true crime as a way to deal with the anxiety of living in a world that openly wants to kill us, and often does.At times this gets a little in the weeds, particularly in the motherhood section where it can feel like a bunch of sweeping generalizations taken to extremes, like motherhood is monsterhood, but maybe it s only that I couldn t relate and so her conclusions felt like a stretch to me Still, I got where she was going, even if I didn t entirely buy everything she was saying But then, while I was reading this book, I was also re reading Maggie Stiefvater s Blue Lily, Lily Blue and I came across a passage that perfectly illustrated a number of the points Doyle was making Ah Are you afraid she jeered Did you hear that I m a witch I have three breasts I have a tail, and horns I am a giant down below Oh, I d be afraid of me, too, young knight I could get you pregnant Run Run It s all right there Women who disrupt the authority of men are witches burn them , monstrous, part snake always , have multiple breasts for suckling their young, sure, because monstrous women can reproduce at will without men , have unexpected genitals, can change genders or be all genders at once and impregnate men, making them monstrous in return It s rich stuff and Stiefvater got it all into a couple of lines I was pretty surprised when I read this I d understood the points Doyle was making but felt she was taking a few examples to the extreme, but these myths about women truly are so pervasive that they show up in young adult fiction set in modern times, and this is just a brief exchange in the middle of a bunch of other stuff, in no way the point of the scene, just illustrating how this particular female character, having been shut up in a box for 600 years, is now a tad eccentric But it also reflects centuries of male anxieties back at a modern male character.As I said, the motherhood section was something I couldn t relate to much, but I found her interpretation of the domineering mother of the true crime genre to be enlightening, as well as the history on the medicalization of birth and what this meant for black mothers and midwives, many of whom were also black I also enjoyed her feminist analysis of the horror genre and Frankenstein as well, but I felt impatient with the parts of this that delved too deeply into the metaphorical or even the spiritual It was just too abstract for me in many ways.In the end, this is almost pure theory even the ending call to action relied heavily on metaphor witches metaphorical witches and that s not really what I need right now So I found it somewhat disappointing on that front, but Doyle s prose is always easy to read, funny, profane, and relatable So I also enjoyed much of it This might be just the thing if you need to step out of our dystopian hellscape for a second andtake a look at how things could be so much worse in a horror movie sort of way But it also acknowledges all the freedoms being a monster gives you Witches don t have to conform to societal expectations and that s what makes them so dangerous A network of self sufficient single women living alone on the fringes of society A HORROR STORY FOR MEN.This has a thorough index, extensive end notes with sources, the occasional footnote, and a helpfully annotated resource guide arranged by chapter topic, then by medium and genre, and Doyle happily calls out the wrong doings of men like Johnny Depp and Roman Polanski in her notes, acknowledging the conflict between artist and product when the artist is a slimeball criminal.I gave this four stars, but it s closer to four and a half.Contains cannibalism attempted incest rape The Exorcist exorcisms in place of medical care, leading to death references to mental illness child harm death descriptions of violence, blood, mutilation, dead bodies sexual violence and domestic violence, ending in murder transphobia also ending in murder discussion of rape mention of suicide Ed Gein, Ed Kemper, and descriptions of their works animal harm death internet harrassment, death threats, Reddit misogyny


  9. says:

    I love Sady Doyle s writing She s able to weave together stories about actual historical and current figures, fictional characters, and women from myths into an entertaining book about the patriarchal and misogynistic fear of monstrous women The book is broken down into three main sections daughters, wives, and mothers I definitely enjoyed the book as a whole, but I wasinterested in the daughters and wives sections than the one about mothers I d recommend this to anyone looking for I love Sady Doyle s writing She s able to weave together stories about actual historical and current figures, fictional characters, and women from myths into an entertaining book about the patriarchal and misogynistic fear of monstrous women The book is broken down into three main sections daughters, wives, and mothers I definitely enjoyed the book as a whole, but I wasinterested in the daughters and wives sections than the one about mothers I d recommend this to anyone looking for afun book about pop culture and history viewed through a feminist lens


  10. says:

    I m so amped Female power let s goooo.


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