Friday, August 13, 2010

More Summer Reading: Feminist Pin-ups, Gay YMCA, Lewis & Clark and George Eliot

One of my recent self-portraits inspired by Pin-Up Grrls
(which I'm pretending to read here)

While I sometimes want to read books that are quick, enthralling adventures, sometimes I want to eat a book that's meatier (metaphorically, of course, since I'm a vegetarian). And that's the type of book I'm reading right now.

Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture by Maria Elena Buszek
This is clearly a feminist take on the pin-up, which discusses the way in which women's sexuality has been epitomized by the pin-up and the ways in which women have appropriated the pin-up as a symbol of self-aware sexuality. The pin-up is something that I have a fairly tortured relationship with, since I love the imagery itself, but have issues with anything that is created just to please the male eye... I'm reading this in part because I want to be more at peace with this issue and partly cause it's just a damn interesting topic.

Take the Young Stranger By the Hand: Same-Sex Relations and the YMCA by John Donald Gustav-Wrathall
This very interesting book covers the YMCA's beginnings as a male-to-male-based religious association to one that is best known for providing gyms and swimming pools for American families. It discusses how close male friendships became less and less encouraged by the YMCA as homosexuality became an ever-greater fear. Turns out lots of the early YMCA literature was full of praise for same-sex love and lots of the "spiritual" closeness seems to have been, in part, due to a subdued sexual tension in many cases. Quite an intriguing read...

The Journals of Lewis & Clark edited by Frank Bergon
I'm enjoying the odd writing style and nearly non-existent spelling and grammar rules in the journals, as well as hearing descriptions of this land we live on before it was so heavily "civilized" and all the indigenous populations & wild life driven out. It's also interesting to find out that these guys had no problem eating beaver (which seems like a really odd game to me), knew a ridiculous amount of stuff about plants, and apparently dressed mostly in flannel shirts.

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
I finally got around to reading a George Eliot novel! I don't know how I managed to avoid it all these years, but I'm finally making amends. I just started this so I'm not very far in it, but from what I hear, it's about a brother and a sister and the different educations and possibilities available to them in life because of their gender. (That's my simplified take on the summary I just read so don't take my word on it.)

What are you reading/passing the time with these hot, humid summer days?

Related posts:
Summer Reading: Percy Jackson & The Olympians
Tattooed Ladies (Part 2)
Tattooed Ladies (Part 3)

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