I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.

AuthorBader, Eleanor J.

It's an engaging parsing that addresses the ways that sexism and misogyny constrain women, a provocative weaving of the personal and the political.

Zimmerman, an editor, essayist, and occasional fiction writer, begins by introducing a group she calls "sister monsters." There is Scylla, a six-headed beast with snake legs, a pack of dogs ready to lunge from her crotch. There's the Sphinx, hovering over male victims with an unanswerable riddle, forcing them to beg for their lives, and Medusa, a grimacing, sharp-toothed creature with a protruding tongue, eager to pounce.

Other monsters include Circe, a sorceress who can turn men into pigs, and Charybdis, a whirlwind who can swallow men whole. Another batch, called the Sirens, have women's heads atop bird bodies and sing in clusters. Their goal? To entice sailors into murky waters to drown.

Zimmerman argues that these terrifying models of female menace--so deeply ingrained that they're largely unconscious--have tainted how Western societies see women. Mixed messages abound: Women are expected to be "seductive but pure, quiet but not aloof, fragile but industrious, and always, always small. We must not be too successful, too ambitious, too independent, too self-centered." If we are, we are dubbed grotesque, unnatural.

There's ample evidence of this. Worse, as Hillary Clinton, Megan Rapinoe, and members of the so-called Squad in Congress that includes Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can attest, the relentless hammering of these messages can be brutal. One need only look to the existence of incels, involuntarily celibate men who blame women for their lack of sexual success to see that heteronormativity and misogyny are alive and flourishing.

Add in the backlash to the #MeToo movement, the tenacity of "rape culture," and the continued presence of male-led anti-abortion protesters outside virtually every reproductive health center in the country, and it is obvious that, when women attempt to assert their personhood, many men are threatened.

This is something that Zimmerman, like most people who identify as women, has personally encountered, and her honest assessment of her own self-silencing and near...

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