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Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology

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A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds--who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or not sexy enough--aren't just outside the norm. They're unnatural. Monstrous. But maybe, the traits we've been told make us dangerous and undesirable are actually our greatest strengths. Through fresh analysis of eleven female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. She guides women (and others) to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, teaching readers to embrace a new image of the female hero: one that looks a lot like a monster, with the agency and power to match. Often, women try to avoid the feeling of monstrousness, of being grotesquely alien, by tamping down those qualities that we're told fall outside the bounds of natural femininity. But monsters also get to do what other female characters--damsels, love interests, and even most heroines--do not. Monsters get to be complete, unrestrained, and larger than life. Today, women are becoming increasingly aware of the ways rules and socially constructed expectations have diminished us. After seeing where compliance gets us--harassed, shut out, and ruled by predators--women have never been more ready to become repellent, fearsome, and ravenous.


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A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds--who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or not sexy enough--aren't just outside the norm. They're unnatural. Monstrous. But maybe, the traits we've been told make us dangerous and undesirable are actually our greatest strengths. Through fresh analysis of eleven female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. She guides women (and others) to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, teaching readers to embrace a new image of the female hero: one that looks a lot like a monster, with the agency and power to match. Often, women try to avoid the feeling of monstrousness, of being grotesquely alien, by tamping down those qualities that we're told fall outside the bounds of natural femininity. But monsters also get to do what other female characters--damsels, love interests, and even most heroines--do not. Monsters get to be complete, unrestrained, and larger than life. Today, women are becoming increasingly aware of the ways rules and socially constructed expectations have diminished us. After seeing where compliance gets us--harassed, shut out, and ruled by predators--women have never been more ready to become repellent, fearsome, and ravenous.

30 review for Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Why you may not like this book: This is a non-fiction book that is half-way between a memoir and an exploration of mythology. For readers looking for one thing or the other, or who don't know what quite to expect, I can see this taking them by surprise or not being quite satisfied with either section. It feels like women and "monsters" of Greek mythology are the framing device Zimmerman uses to talk about her personal experiences with sexism, emotional abuse, fatphobia, and self-harm and general Why you may not like this book: This is a non-fiction book that is half-way between a memoir and an exploration of mythology. For readers looking for one thing or the other, or who don't know what quite to expect, I can see this taking them by surprise or not being quite satisfied with either section. It feels like women and "monsters" of Greek mythology are the framing device Zimmerman uses to talk about her personal experiences with sexism, emotional abuse, fatphobia, and self-harm and generally about the experience of being a woman in a way that will especially ring true for women in a post-Trump America. Why I enjoyed this book: I enjoyed both the fresh analysis on monsters of Greek mythology and the vulnerable and honest way Zimmerman ties them to her own experiences. For the most part, her connections between the mythology and the modern experience of being a woman felt smart. There were 1 or 2 times I thought they were a little more forced or stretched than others, but nothing that ruined the experience for me. This is already something I know I want to reread because I want to spend more time with the analysis. I know that during first read there were times I found myself agreeing and I found myself moved. I like to sit a little more with what Zimmerman is saying both about these mythological portrayals and "womanhood." I've thought about this book a lot since reading it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I don’t really have much to say about this. I did in fact enjoy my time with this and I thought the framework Zimmermann uses – speaking about different female monster from Greek/ Roman mythology and using that as a jumping point to write more generally about sexism – was really well chosen. I just do not think it was as great as it could have been and that is such a shame. This book sits squarely in an intersection of two of my great loves: feminism and mythology. I should have adored this. I t I don’t really have much to say about this. I did in fact enjoy my time with this and I thought the framework Zimmermann uses – speaking about different female monster from Greek/ Roman mythology and using that as a jumping point to write more generally about sexism – was really well chosen. I just do not think it was as great as it could have been and that is such a shame. This book sits squarely in an intersection of two of my great loves: feminism and mythology. I should have adored this. I think what makes this such a difficult review for me to write is that there is nothing wrong with this book – but I was not the right reader. I like my non-fiction either highly introspective and navel-gazing, or perfectly structured and researched. This was somehow neither. As such, I vastly prefered the parts where Zimmermann was close to her own life, using mythology to make sense of her experiences. These parts worked extremely well and gave me much to think about. On the other hand, the more general political points did not always convince me, probably because this was not really the focus of the book or because I found them very narrow in their application while Zimmermann made them sound universal. I am, however, not from the US – so your milage may absolutely vary here. Content warnings: discussions of sexism and racism, (mythical) rape, (mythical) miscarriage, abortion, emotional abuse I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cande

    I haven't stopped thinking about this book and I'm not sure I liked it. The blurb was misleading, this was not the thoughtful and in-depth analysis of monsters and women that I was hoping for. Instead, Zimmerman uses Greek mythology to mostly talk about the fatphobia and sexism in her own life. I wouldn't have minded as much if she hadn't made me so uncomfortable. First of all, her comment about women being forced to be covered in the name of faith because of invisibility. Muslim women have talk I haven't stopped thinking about this book and I'm not sure I liked it. The blurb was misleading, this was not the thoughtful and in-depth analysis of monsters and women that I was hoping for. Instead, Zimmerman uses Greek mythology to mostly talk about the fatphobia and sexism in her own life. I wouldn't have minded as much if she hadn't made me so uncomfortable. First of all, her comment about women being forced to be covered in the name of faith because of invisibility. Muslim women have talked time and time again about how western (white) women need to shut up about their supposed oppression. I have listened to this sentence again and again because I couldn't believe that in 2021 this ridiculous, Islamophobic sentiment would be written with such authority. But there are no limits to white feminist nonsense. And then, Zimmerman's discussions about sexuality. I struggle here because identity is deeply personal and equally valid, but the way she discusses attraction to women felt very uncomfortable to me. She seems to argue that attraction to women is understandable because of the objectification of women in media? Yes, this a point she makes about herself and the way she doesn't think she gets to identify as queer, how she's not even sure she's attracted to women, or her attraction may be different because of her insecurities... Internalized homophobia hello? I didn't like this, but I'm not sure if it's my own feelings showing up or like this is a seriously disgusting statement. After two weeks I have completely forgotten the points Zimmerman made, to be quite honest. Women and Other Monsters wasn't nuanced or smart, I'm not impressed. Also, she may mention here and there trans women and non-binary people but the narration is very much cis-centric.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    Thank you so much to Jess Zimmerman, Beacon Press, and Libro.fm for my ALC of Women and Other Monsters. This book talks about folklore and how it shapes our current culture of fear of powerful women. Women who want success, love, lust, or get angry are not “normal”. Women are expected to diminish themselves to make men feel more comfortable. Zimmerman analizes monsters such as the Harpies and Medusa and compares and contrasts them to women and their relationships with their bodies, race, beauty, Thank you so much to Jess Zimmerman, Beacon Press, and Libro.fm for my ALC of Women and Other Monsters. This book talks about folklore and how it shapes our current culture of fear of powerful women. Women who want success, love, lust, or get angry are not “normal”. Women are expected to diminish themselves to make men feel more comfortable. Zimmerman analizes monsters such as the Harpies and Medusa and compares and contrasts them to women and their relationships with their bodies, race, beauty, and even twitter trolls. Thoughts: I loved how relevant and relatable this book was. I found myself thinking YES GIRL almost the entire time. She is candid in the best way, talking about everything from how you never see ugly girls in the media to the way our most recent ex-president treated women as objects. I like the way she showed sometimes there is no winning. If you choose not to have children, you’re wrong. If you choose to have a child and work, you’re wrong. Women are put in a difficult position just because they are women. And we’re not even supposed to be angry about it, because it’s not feminine. Zimmerman called out the sexism, ageism, racism, homophobia, and other harmful parts of our society that diminish women, specifically women of color. She speaks on the gender gaps in our society and the implicit bias many have against women and their opinions. I loved her fearless writing and important points on what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a monster, and how sometimes, you can be both. 4-stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelsea

    Jess Zimmerman’s Women And Other Monsters is a fresh analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology mixed with memoir-ish glimpses into the author’s life and experiences that will likely resonate with many women and people who have experienced being treated societally as female at some point in their lives. Zimmerman’s tone was approachable, funny, and vulnerable. I really appreciated her openness; she’s quite candid about her thoughts, inner struggles, and past experiences, however uncomforta Jess Zimmerman’s Women And Other Monsters is a fresh analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology mixed with memoir-ish glimpses into the author’s life and experiences that will likely resonate with many women and people who have experienced being treated societally as female at some point in their lives. Zimmerman’s tone was approachable, funny, and vulnerable. I really appreciated her openness; she’s quite candid about her thoughts, inner struggles, and past experiences, however uncomfortable. There were a few parts where I thought the conclusions drawn felt a bit stretched or perhaps only really applicable to some portion of Zimmerman’s larger definition of “women.” I think, however, that this is inevitable to some degree when trying to draw any kind of conclusions for as diverse a group as her broadly defined “women.” Overall, this was a great read that really left an impression! I’m currently writing a book that involves a monster from folklore, and the relationship between mythology/folklore and the roles women often play in these stories has been on my mind a lot lately. This has given me a lot to think about. Huge thank you to Libro FM & Beacon Press for a free advanced listeners copy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    I saw "women", "monsters", and "Medusa" and I was sold so I went into this not knowing what to expect exactly, which is my own fault but also... what a find! If you're a lover of mythology (Um.... yes and my favorite "monsters" were always the gorgons...) and want a look at female monsters through a mythological feminist journey.... well here you have it. Full disclosure - feminist reads aren't really my thing. No, this doesn't make me any less of a woman, whatever that's supposed to mean. There I saw "women", "monsters", and "Medusa" and I was sold so I went into this not knowing what to expect exactly, which is my own fault but also... what a find! If you're a lover of mythology (Um.... yes and my favorite "monsters" were always the gorgons...) and want a look at female monsters through a mythological feminist journey.... well here you have it. Full disclosure - feminist reads aren't really my thing. No, this doesn't make me any less of a woman, whatever that's supposed to mean. There were a lot of FUCK YEAH moments in reading this and I loved the journey via mythology to make it even MORE interesting. But sometimes I was also like, ok ok.. enough. Back to the monsters.. um hello.. Hydra? Chimera? Medusa? Hello? If you're going to write me in as a character for your book, please make me the more interesting *monster* version please. I certainly don't fall within the bounds of natural femininity and if that's what makes me a monster, then SO ABSOLUTELY BE IT. I'm hungry. Time to hunt.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jami Engel

    I enjoyed this way more than I expected to! As someone who only reads a handful of nonfiction each year, I can be pretty picky about what I pick up. I was glued to this one. The narrative and audio of Zimmerman is authentic and honest--it is clear she spilled her heart out when writing this and made connections that "clicked" within me and, honestly, changed my outlook on a lot of things . I also LOVED the mythology aspects and how she drew countless parallels to female mythological creatures and I enjoyed this way more than I expected to! As someone who only reads a handful of nonfiction each year, I can be pretty picky about what I pick up. I was glued to this one. The narrative and audio of Zimmerman is authentic and honest--it is clear she spilled her heart out when writing this and made connections that "clicked" within me and, honestly, changed my outlook on a lot of things . I also LOVED the mythology aspects and how she drew countless parallels to female mythological creatures and how society views females today. It was QUITE astonishing to see. I dropped a star because I felt like there were only a few of these instances where this connectivity was illustrated; she spent a lot of time detailing anecdotes and personal experiences while, although interesting, tended to deflect from the purpose of the title. 4/5

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy Washburn

    Women and Other Monsters is a pure, unadulterated, feminist read analyzing female monsters from Greek mythology and comparing them to women today. The goal in doing so is to help women reclaim what they've originally been told is "monstrous" (mostly by men). To see that anger, greed, ambition, and sexual desires are not inherently bad, in fact they could be their greatest strengths. It is a powerful analysis, perfect for anyone looking for a new feminist read, or fans of mythology. Women and Other Monsters is a pure, unadulterated, feminist read analyzing female monsters from Greek mythology and comparing them to women today. The goal in doing so is to help women reclaim what they've originally been told is "monstrous" (mostly by men). To see that anger, greed, ambition, and sexual desires are not inherently bad, in fact they could be their greatest strengths. It is a powerful analysis, perfect for anyone looking for a new feminist read, or fans of mythology.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    For anyone reading Circe or Lore, this is a welcome companion read. While I got one impression from the blurb/marketing, this is definitely more of a memoir and reflection on the cultural treatment of women in a post-Trump America, as opposed to an academic or journalistic study of women and monsters. There are certainly moments where the depictions of monsters across cultures and specific authors (namely, ancient Greek and their adaptations) but it is only ever related back to a woman in western For anyone reading Circe or Lore, this is a welcome companion read. While I got one impression from the blurb/marketing, this is definitely more of a memoir and reflection on the cultural treatment of women in a post-Trump America, as opposed to an academic or journalistic study of women and monsters. There are certainly moments where the depictions of monsters across cultures and specific authors (namely, ancient Greek and their adaptations) but it is only ever related back to a woman in western society: the author herself notes this and admits that the book is written from the perspective of a white (and relatively privileged otherwise) woman, but still takes intersectionality into account in moments throughout the book. I think, had this been a collaborative book, it may have benefitted from the perspectives of women from other backgrounds (perhaps from a non-American standpoint), or to be related back to the treatment of Women in other cultures around the globe, throughout history. Maybe one day the author will create an additional compendium, with more monsters to reclaim. Overall it was pretty ok, not necessarily revolutionary, I think I was thrown off by the blurb. I listened to the audiobook, about a month before the book will be published. The print book looks like it's going to have some cool illustrations! Audiobook accessed through the libro.fm bookseller program, via my place of work, Oxford Exchange bookstore in Tampa, FL.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine McCune

    This book wasn't for me, and that's ok! I'm sure it's for other people. It was well written and (as far as I could tell) well researched. It also had a tendency to present the author's experiences and cultural touchpoints as universalities. It felt as though it made sweeping generalizations about "womanhood" and "manhood" without nuance (although the author definitely did try to be trans-inclusive, it just didn't work very well) and wound up coming across as having a very white, cis, and straigh This book wasn't for me, and that's ok! I'm sure it's for other people. It was well written and (as far as I could tell) well researched. It also had a tendency to present the author's experiences and cultural touchpoints as universalities. It felt as though it made sweeping generalizations about "womanhood" and "manhood" without nuance (although the author definitely did try to be trans-inclusive, it just didn't work very well) and wound up coming across as having a very white, cis, and straight point of view (acknowledging that the author herself is attracted to women as well as men and chooses not to label herself). Which brings me to another reason this book isn't for me: the understanding of queerness presented in the book was very one dimensional and was predicated on the notion that queerness only encompasses non-hetero sexual attraction (unsurprisingly, asexual folks were never mentioned) and nothing else. I'm glad this book exists for those who will, I'm sure, cherish it and feel empowered by it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    2.5 stars Before you look at the rating and go yikes, I'd love to point out that this low rating is 100% a "me" problem and not the fault of the book. It was a lot of little things that came together (or didn't come together) that prevented me from enjoying it. I don't have too much to say about this one, so this review is going to be short. Overall, I think that if you're coming to this text with any prior knowledge of the subject matter, you're not going to learn a lot of new things—topics of f 2.5 stars Before you look at the rating and go yikes, I'd love to point out that this low rating is 100% a "me" problem and not the fault of the book. It was a lot of little things that came together (or didn't come together) that prevented me from enjoying it. I don't have too much to say about this one, so this review is going to be short. Overall, I think that if you're coming to this text with any prior knowledge of the subject matter, you're not going to learn a lot of new things—topics of female representation in the classic Greek myths and other Western standards are covered, but in an introductory way that I often found myself nodding and go, "yes, now what else? What is the new angle here?" I also was surprised to find that this book was a much more personalized narrative that focused on the author's life experiences, thoughts, and personal insertions. This was done well, if you enjoy that kind of nonfiction, but I was confused by the level of author-insertion to this work. When you're here for the myths and their analysis of how they represent the ways we place monstrous traits on women in different contexts, its a little ??? to then receive a lot of personal anecdotes of the one cis/white woman behind the curtain as opposed to a more zoomed-out approach to larger groups of women. Again, would really like to stress that all of my above notes are not criticisms of the work as a standard, but more so why I personally could not get into it. If you are interested in the subject matter and my gripes sounded like positives, definitely check this one out! Thank you to Libro.fm and the publisher for my audiobook in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  12. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    This is an ARC review. Many thanks to Beacon Press and Edelweiss. Women and Other Monsters is equal parts feminist manifesto, personal essay collection, and call-to-arms; it's 100% badass. This book is a revelation and should be included on every feminist reading list going forward. It is a love letter to every woman who has tried to fit into the patriarchy's view of what a woman should be by making herself small, pretty, compliant. It is an angry scream into the void of misogyny, and it is a bat This is an ARC review. Many thanks to Beacon Press and Edelweiss. Women and Other Monsters is equal parts feminist manifesto, personal essay collection, and call-to-arms; it's 100% badass. This book is a revelation and should be included on every feminist reading list going forward. It is a love letter to every woman who has tried to fit into the patriarchy's view of what a woman should be by making herself small, pretty, compliant. It is an angry scream into the void of misogyny, and it is a battle cry to fellow women fighting every day for a place in this world. This is a book about how women have been made into monsters by sheer virtue of our existence and how we can reclaim that word, exploring and embracing our "monstrousness" and discovering why the very essence of us so terrifies the men in charge. Zimmerman explore the monstrous female through the lens of female monsters of Greek myth: Medusa, Charybdis, Scylla, the Sirens, the Harpies, Sphinx, the Furies, Chimera, Lamia, Hydra, and Echidna. I cannot even begin to tell you how fantastic a take this is... just read it and you'll see. Zimmerman is knowledgeable about Greek mythology and has a masterful ability to keep a point in mind despite everything she has to say per essay (it's a lot). You might assume, in spots, that she's going on a tangent, but she always has an aim and she always brings you back to it. Her focus is commendable, as is her ability to include so many points in each essay while still remaining relevant and readable. But perhaps her biggest strength is this: Zimmerman is able to eloquently write about experiences that every woman has had, but that few have put into words. She is honest and frank, lyrical and insightful, righteously angry and calmly rational (a fine line all women are forced to walk). You’ll find yourself looking up periodically and saying “YES” (I did…. a lot). One thing Zimmerman addresses her, and something I've always struggled with but found it hard to voice, is the disconnect between femininity and humanity. Women are supposed to be otherworldly beings, above everything, available only for sex or for worshipping (see: Madonna/whore complex) and yet, obviously, we aren't. We have bodies, we have bodily functions, we are human. But we don't get to be human in the way men do: "To be considered human, instead of monster, [women] need to overshoot and land in the realm of the ethereal." This book is the first time I've seen that disconnect spelled out in print. Zimmerman GETS IT: "If you are […] feminine and have a mortal body, you are born a monster." Our very existence makes us monsters. No woman can embody the ideal "woman" as set up by the patriarchy: "nobody is beautiful, or at least not beautiful enough that they feel they're finished and can relax. We merely strive toward beauty, which is not a state but an action." Because we can only strive, we can never succeed. The monstrous woman is always at our backs, about to grab hold. But why are we so afraid of her, anyway? The monstrous woman (and the fear she incites in women, carefully instilled since childhood) serves a vital purpose to the rule of the patriarchy. The fear of becoming her keeps women in line, always striving to be prettier, thinner, better. It keeps women from getting too loud or too angry, from being promiscuous, from taking risks or breaking the mold. If woman does these things, realizes her own agency, what's to keep her subservient to man? Think of it this way: "We've built a culture on the backs of these monstrous women, letting them prop up tired morals about safety and normalcy and feminine propriety. But the traits they represent - aspiration, knowledge, strength, desire - are not hideous. In men's hands, they have always been heroic." This is obvious everywhere. Take, for example: the woman who sleeps around is a whore, the man who sleeps around is just a man. Or, let’s all nod to Freud, a mother is often blamed for her child’s problems, a father rarely is (except the whole “daddy issues” trope – which is just another way to blame women, this time for a man’s failure). We are attacked from all sides. We are told we are monsters to keep us trying in vain for approval, but what if we stopped? What if we embraced the monster on our heels, the monster that we are, and allowed ourselves to be human? These are issues that jumped out at me, but Zimmerman covers everything in this book from intersectional feminism, to abortion and motherhood, to the vilification of the seductress, to every woman’s festering anger (yes, we all have it, whether we acknowledge it or not). The only essay that gave me pause was the “social justice” chapter because I felt like it was baldly pushing a political agenda. But then I went back and realized: You know what? What male writer has thought twice about pushing an agenda or talked about politics without all the facts? Within the narrative of this book, any reaching on Zimmerman’s part, any hyperbolic claim, is a reclamation of strength. She is reclaiming what is so ingrained in – so feared by – us all: a monstrous woman speaks about politics; a monstrous woman claims her ideas without apologizing. Upon reflection, I think Zimmerman is pushing an agenda, getting political, and daring the reader to judge her – to see her as monstrous and to second-guess ourselves as to why we do. So, sure, I may not have liked every single part of the book, but, in the end, no matter how many criticisms I tried to throw, this book slithered out from under them all. And why did I feel the need to criticize, anyway? Why did a woman speaking her truth make me feel the need to poke holes? Well, Zimmerman answered that question: because Hydra is dangerous, all those heads working together. I’ve been trained from girlhood to hate other women for what I perceived as them being smarter than me, prettier than me, more successful than me. Am I doing it again, reading Zimmerman’s words and trying to find fault to make myself feel powerful? A group fighting itself can never look up and realize who the real enemy is. Hercules couldn’t defeat Hydra on his own, united and fighting against him. Working together, woman would be a Hydra – angry, united, and ready to fight. I’ll stop my analysis here, because to continue writing my thoughts on everything included in this book would be to write a whole separate book. But if you are a woman, or if you know a woman, or if you have ever been a woman: read this and think. We have a long road ahead, but we’ll walk it together. Women and Other Monsters is a justification of anger, a proclamation of worth, and a beacon of hope to all women, everywhere. I hope this book gets its due attention upon publication.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This felt really confused....and was a very big letdown. What was pitched as a reflective and deep look at the Greek mythology tropes and legends that have permeated and persisted in our culture and have structurally defined and shaped our perceptions of women came across as a jumbled mess with a lack of structure. This is such a shame because as someone who has been fascinated by Greek mythology since middle school and selected Greek women and the role of sexism as her high school senior thesis This felt really confused....and was a very big letdown. What was pitched as a reflective and deep look at the Greek mythology tropes and legends that have permeated and persisted in our culture and have structurally defined and shaped our perceptions of women came across as a jumbled mess with a lack of structure. This is such a shame because as someone who has been fascinated by Greek mythology since middle school and selected Greek women and the role of sexism as her high school senior thesis, I thought reading this would feel like a return to that passion with sharp, witty, and careful dissection and thoughtful research and analysis. The barely surface level assessment was mired with the author’s personal journey and experiences that were more specific to her and her own emotions than grand societal influences dictated by centuries of Greek history. The concept of hunger especially was honed in on throughout, which I think is because of the author’s body dysmorphia, fat shaming, and eating disorder history rather than because it features so prominently in Greek mythology. There were so many other themes and tropes that could have been critically examined, such as overall emotions or anger (female wrath as seen in Medusa, scilla, Hera), beauty both as a standard and form of power and manipulation against men (sirens, harpies, Aphrodite), sexual violence and subjugation (rape, Pandora’s box, Persephone), the pitting of women against themselves to assert themselves (Hera, Athena) etc. There are so many huge themes that could have been broke up and assessed, each having a section or chapter devoted to them where source material is introduced and then critically examined. Instead....the focus is narrowly on hunger with examples of actual food quantity consumption which frankly felt uncomfortable (and also talked about men and a study of how they eat even when not hungry?), hunger in the emotional (for affection and validation) and physiological sense as if everything could be boiled down to that singular concept. The author’s discussion of her marriages felt out of place and didn’t connect to the themes in Greek mythology - for example the importance and expectations placed on the concept of marriage within Greek mythology and how that differs for men and women. It also isn’t clear how her early childhood love and fascination with Greek mythology impacted her life later on, namely through those mental health challenges and in those toxic relationships. Lastly, this felt like an ode to Madeline Miller’s book Circe, which is referenced (read worshipped) early and often. If this is meant to examine Greek mythology and its influence on our society and culture and by extension the role and treatment of women, ONE female authors’ book focusing on a female Goddess does not convey the message nor is it the hallmark of the systematic dismantling of centuries of misogynistic culture. While it’s great Circe features a female Goddess who overcomes many attempts at subversion and subjugation by men, it ultimately ends in the same way that many Greek stories do, with weird incest and sexuality, so ultimately what is the profound shift that Circe shows us? While I have no doubt the author’s deeply personal experiences are important and should be shared, they should stand alone instead of being wrapped up in a contrived analysis of Greek mythology and it’s intersection with feminism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cebrina

    An interesting book written in a clear, characteristic voice. Like many others have noted, this book tethers somewhere in between a memoir, an essay, and an analyses of select myths. The chosen myths serve as backdrops for the various issues and anxieties that Zimmerman voices, and I really enjoyed the way she read the myths. As she says in the foreword, she is not a classicist, but that is not a detriment. Her readings are very interesting, even if they are more "pop-culture oriented" (which is An interesting book written in a clear, characteristic voice. Like many others have noted, this book tethers somewhere in between a memoir, an essay, and an analyses of select myths. The chosen myths serve as backdrops for the various issues and anxieties that Zimmerman voices, and I really enjoyed the way she read the myths. As she says in the foreword, she is not a classicist, but that is not a detriment. Her readings are very interesting, even if they are more "pop-culture oriented" (which is in no way a critique), and the way she connects the myths with the overall argument(s) for the social commentary works really well. However, because the overall focus of the essays isn't exclusively the myths and monsters, some of the chapters could have done perfectly fine on their own, without the inclusion of the mythological aspect. This is a tad frustrating, if you've gone into the book wanting to read about women, monsters, the link between the myths and modern society. It also makes the subtitle "Towards a New Mythology" a little misleading, as this is not particularly something that Zimmerman is concerned with, except for perhaps in the epilogue. Mainly, she is re-reading mythology, not replacing it. This is not to say that Zimmerman's writing is poor; it is at turns anxious, melancholic, provoking, and painfully earnest, and I closed the book feeling like she'd discussed incredibly important aspects of society--especially those we might not like to think about as women. Gods know how much shit we've internalized, and how hard it is to come back from it. I also enjoyed her admittance that there were things she simply could not accurately write on, such as the experiences of Black women, or trans* folk, etc. It did slip a little from time to time, going a little far between "disclaimers", but then, you cannot write a whole book full caveats for every single remark. I also liked her inclusion of patriarchy as something harmful to men, and how important it was that we all, not just women but all of humanity, worked together to move away from its harmful effects (which is, of course, easier said than done, but the anxiety running through the text never lets you forget that either). Of the subjects I adored reading about the most, there was the internalization of rape culture, the choice to have or not to have children and all the anxieties that accompany that, and the importance of women supporting women (and also how this endeavor often excludes more women than it includes, and thus, in the end, often fails). The discussions were nuanced, even while they were also intensely personal, and the essay-memoir form worked really well. Lastly, the illustrations were goddamned glorious, and I am in love with Samira Ingold's art style.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    “It would have been easier in some ways, if my ex-husband was the monster instead of me, if he’d been cruel, if he’d betrayed me, it would have hurt more, but made a cleaner story, maybe even one that let me off the hook. But he wasn’t the one who asked me to tuck away my teeth and claws. I did that on my own. I thought it was the price you paid for love. He didn’t notice I was hiding them, but why would he? I didn’t even notice, not really, I just wanted to stay happy enough for our home to be “It would have been easier in some ways, if my ex-husband was the monster instead of me, if he’d been cruel, if he’d betrayed me, it would have hurt more, but made a cleaner story, maybe even one that let me off the hook. But he wasn’t the one who asked me to tuck away my teeth and claws. I did that on my own. I thought it was the price you paid for love. He didn’t notice I was hiding them, but why would he? I didn’t even notice, not really, I just wanted to stay happy enough for our home to be happy, helpful enough for our home to be good. For women who have tried to bow to the demands of simple domesticity, our own selves can often sneak up on us. What looks like a single creature is two, or more. What looks like a home is a cavern of visions. What looks like a solid mountain is pitted with flame. When you’ve spent all your life smothering your contradictions, their eruption can undo you. But it’s not like being a chimera that confounds you, most of us are born that way, it’s the years spent trying to simplify yourself, to present a domesticated and reliable facade, to take responsibility for carrying calm and contentment into the home and never letting it drop. If you’d always been allowed to be angry, sad... imagine how strong you’d be.” “The womb is the resting place of the sacred feminine, the generative power that sets us apart. This is silly for a number of reasons: infertile women, women who’ve had hysterectomies, women assigned male at birth, or otherwise born without a uterus, women who think it’s actually not that feminist to be told that the most valuable thing about them is their reproductive organs. But our capacity for birthing monsters really is one of our greatest weapons. You don’t need any special equipment for this. Monsters are engendered in the act of eating or fucking or shouting, of aspiring above your so-called station, of living in a body without shame. The tighter our constraints the more they pour from us every time we overflow, a seed bursting open. Like Echidna we make a womb out of our cell. This in the end is what matters, not that we stand proudly in all our monstrousness every day, but that we find small ways to gestate dissent and deviation, to nurse and nurture the things that are supposed to be wrong with us, until they grow into something great— this is our strength. That each of us has the capacity not only to be a monster, but a mother of monsters. We can birth from our own bodies every one of men’s fears.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    W. eFred

    I waffled between 3 stars and 2 stars on this book. 3 stars, because it is not as it was marketed, "A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories." Instead what you'll find in reading this book is a memoir. As a memoir, it was hit or miss. There were many poignant points and well-written lines. It examines the author's thoughts on and experiences of her own body and womanhood. She hints at a fluctuating bi/queer and dis I waffled between 3 stars and 2 stars on this book. 3 stars, because it is not as it was marketed, "A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories." Instead what you'll find in reading this book is a memoir. As a memoir, it was hit or miss. There were many poignant points and well-written lines. It examines the author's thoughts on and experiences of her own body and womanhood. She hints at a fluctuating bi/queer and disabled identity due to chronic invisible illness. She never definitively identifies with either of these groups, and her primary identity throughout the book is as a self-proclaimed ugly cishet woman (despite nominally praising ugliness as a super power, none of the illustrated monsters in her book are ugly. all of them are conventionally pleasing). Her analysis of monstrous bodies is limited to her personal and social experience of feeling monstrous and identifying with ugliness. The reader gets the sense that Zimmerman is genuinely attempting to stand for all women, and does not hold any conscious bias against any subset of womanhood. Even so, her attempts fall dangerously often into essentialism. Zimmerman aims for intersectionality, but much of her rhetoric very problematically mirrors islamophobic, fat-phobic, ableist, and bi-phobic dialogue. The deeper I got into the book, the more these things stood out to me. I had written a longer review addressing some of the more problematic areas, but shortened it so I could use the longer parts in my personal writing. Also if you're the manipulative professor that Zimmerman mentions in "That's What You Think" and you're reading the comments to see what people are saying about you: what you did has a clinical name. It's called gaslighting. You are an emotional abuser. Textbook. I hope karma catches up with you. You deserve awful things in life. If based off of what I've said, this is not the book for you, I have two alternate suggestions: &

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Thank you to Libro FM for sending me an audio ARC of Women and Other Monsters. This book comes out on March 9th, 2021. I will preface this by saying that I expected something different from this book. I was expecting an analysis of the women and monsters of the Greek world and how they relate. Instead, it was using the monsters of Greek mythology to explain and enhance the author's views on feminism and women. While this is an interesting and different take, it was unexpected and it took my enj Thank you to Libro FM for sending me an audio ARC of Women and Other Monsters. This book comes out on March 9th, 2021. I will preface this by saying that I expected something different from this book. I was expecting an analysis of the women and monsters of the Greek world and how they relate. Instead, it was using the monsters of Greek mythology to explain and enhance the author's views on feminism and women. While this is an interesting and different take, it was unexpected and it took my enjoyment out of the book a little bit. However, I do appreciate that this book brings a new perspective on how women (including people who identify as women, no matter their gender assigned at birth) have been oppressed for most of our existence. That being said, I was uncomfortable during parts of this book (but reading new perspectives can always be uncomfortable). I found some parts of the book stimulating, the comparisons in a mythology solely written by men and how women can be seen as an interesting aside that I had never really considered. The main takeaway from the book, that if we push ourselves to be monstrous, in that we push outside the norms placed on us, we can be more, was good. I liked the message (even if I could not articulate it very well). Where I took more pause was that it was a cross between a personal memoir and an analysis of monsters and feminism. There were a lot of personal anecdotes and stories. I wasn't expecting that and it felt that the author was trying to say that their experience was the quintessential feminine experience (whether or not that was the intention is unknown to me). I don't know how to explain this part really. It just felt off for me? Maybe it was the audiobook or my expectations. Instead of having many different experiences in this book, there was only one. There was not much discussion on POC and disabled and non-Western women and how that experience may relate to having female monsters. It felt a little like white feminism and that didn't sit well with me. I think what it boils down to for me, is that there was not enough discussion of the monsters and their relationship to women/feminism. That's it. I think it is an interesting read and I feel you will take more out of it if you understand what it really is.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Audrey H.

    Earlier this year I read Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths and absolutely loved it - so I was hoping this would be similar. Unfortunately, I think Zimmerman's publishers did her a disservice in their marketing, book blurb description, and even the title/cover of this book. Like many other reviewers have mentioned, this is not general non-fiction about female monster mythology; I'd categorize it more as a memoir. The entire time, I kept getting Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memo Earlier this year I read Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths and absolutely loved it - so I was hoping this would be similar. Unfortunately, I think Zimmerman's publishers did her a disservice in their marketing, book blurb description, and even the title/cover of this book. Like many other reviewers have mentioned, this is not general non-fiction about female monster mythology; I'd categorize it more as a memoir. The entire time, I kept getting Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In vibes (although that book is much better than this one). In Tran's piece, he provides a memoir of growing up Vietnamese-American in the 1980s, through the lens of different pieces of classical literature. Each chapter introduces a classical book with similar themes to the autobiographical content contained within the chapter. That's basically what Zimmerman is trying to do here - but with Greek monsters rather than canonical lit. While she brings up Circe, The Furies, Medusa, Harpies, and other familiar figures, they are merely a prompt for Zimmerman to talk about female beauty standards, anger, bodies and ambition - rather than the topic itself. Even if I had known this was more of a memoir, I don't know if I would have given it higher than 3-stars. While Zimmerman brings up important topics, her tone and feminist angle will likely only resonate to people that already have similar political and social beliefs. I agree with many of the points made - but even I feel like the presentation ranged from Fuck-Ya! Empower-Me! to decidedly acerbic and misandry.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristin B

    This book was a really great analysis of the roles/perceptions/expectations/etc. of women in a patriarchal society, framed underneath the monsters and creatures of Greek mythology. My favorite sections: The Snatchers: you truly will never think of a harpy the same way ever again. Shark, Snake, Swarm: struck me to my core, especially as I've just freshly escaped another Mother's Day and am feeling all of the mixed emotions about motherhood and child-rearing. It's one thing to find other mothers adm This book was a really great analysis of the roles/perceptions/expectations/etc. of women in a patriarchal society, framed underneath the monsters and creatures of Greek mythology. My favorite sections: The Snatchers: you truly will never think of a harpy the same way ever again. Shark, Snake, Swarm: struck me to my core, especially as I've just freshly escaped another Mother's Day and am feeling all of the mixed emotions about motherhood and child-rearing. It's one thing to find other mothers admitting that they have complicated (or straight up resentful) feelings about motherhood. It's another to not only have those (usually private) feelings not only validated, but also to have it pointed out that mothers are essentially set up to fail in a patriarchal society regardless of their efforts, desires, emotions... anything. Nothing has ever truly helped relieve the burden of motherhood for me quite like this section of the book. Come Back, Twice as Hard: made me re-evaluate some relationships I have (or had) with other women that have soured and see how a man not only very well may be at the root of that conflict, but also directly benefits from it. Made me mourn the absence of female relationships that could have flourished otherwise, made me crave a good female friendship story to smooth out the sadness. And lastly, The Epilogue (specifically, the final lines): "This is our strength: that each of us has the capacity to be not only a monster, but a mother of monsters. We can birth from our own bodies every one of men's worst fears." I highly recommend this take on feminism through the lens of Greek myths and monsters. And obviously, I would like a retelling of each of the monsters and creatures mentioned as the heroines in their stories. Please and Thank You!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel S

    This is a collection that would have meant much more to me at 18 than it does reading it at 28. I was disappointed, but I don't want to be too harsh about it, because I think a lot of older teenagers will benefit from it. As an adult who has done plenty of reading about Greek mythology and feminism, there just wasn't anything new for me here. Each section uses a female monster as a jumping off point for a personal essay. The actual feminist critique is based around a pretty shallow interpretatio This is a collection that would have meant much more to me at 18 than it does reading it at 28. I was disappointed, but I don't want to be too harsh about it, because I think a lot of older teenagers will benefit from it. As an adult who has done plenty of reading about Greek mythology and feminism, there just wasn't anything new for me here. Each section uses a female monster as a jumping off point for a personal essay. The actual feminist critique is based around a pretty shallow interpretation of the monster in question (Medusa = ugly, the furies = SJWs) and doesn't at any point address the society and culture in which they were originally created. That's my biggest gripe: these stories are thousands of years old, and to analyze them with a modern lense without context gives us a warped view of what we are observing (or, more frankly, what Zimmerman is having us observe). As a memoir, though, it's pretty good. The framing technique of using monsters to define periods of time in the author's life is more compelling to me. I wish it had chosen to be one or the other. Something I found interesting: the prelude and first chapter both discuss how, over time, the monsters of Greek mythology have been stripped of their ugliness in their portrayals (by men) to meet the beauty standard of the day, and to blur the line between "woman" and "monster." So to see the beautiful, thin, extremely woman-like illustrations of the monsters did seem like an odd choice. They are stunning though.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book was frustrating in that there were sections of it that I loved and sections that I hated. The book is essentially broken up into a number of personal essays, reflecting upon the base concept of female "monsters" from ancient Grecian myth. Some of these essays were fantastic. I absolutely love the chapters on hunger and fury in particular, and if my review were based on these essays alone, I would have rated this higher. There's a line from the huger chapter ("it is a nakedness worse th This book was frustrating in that there were sections of it that I loved and sections that I hated. The book is essentially broken up into a number of personal essays, reflecting upon the base concept of female "monsters" from ancient Grecian myth. Some of these essays were fantastic. I absolutely love the chapters on hunger and fury in particular, and if my review were based on these essays alone, I would have rated this higher. There's a line from the huger chapter ("it is a nakedness worse than nakedness to be caught wanting") that's already sticking to me, and I have an inkling I'll revisit these chapters in the future. But unfortunately, I found much of the other essays, despite being well written, a bit dull and repetitive. I think I'd still recommend them to people? There's still much I think people can take from them. But as someone who does quite a lot of feminist and women's' advocate work, I didn't take or learn anything new from these chapters. I'm sure that'll be the case for many people who are already quite involved in feminist or leftist activist spaces. I should say, as well, that I enjoy a little bit of memoir in a non-fiction, but this book crossed the line of being too much in places. I enjoyed hearing about the author's experiences, and how those experiences were relevant to the reflection being made, sure. But I think I was looking for something that analysed greek myth a little further, rather than memoir being the main focus. Something I really liked was the illustrations, though! Those were super pretty!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth Young

    I really didn't like this, even though I couldn't finish it in the end, I kept thinking about it, in a negative sense. It's a shame that a topic so rich with promise, a topic in which many interesting writers and events might be drawn into is given this whiny one note treatment. I think it's so pretentious, so western-centric, so classist, so ahistorical as to be practically useless to the conversation. It's interesting that the author opens with a long preamble about inclusion but then says she I really didn't like this, even though I couldn't finish it in the end, I kept thinking about it, in a negative sense. It's a shame that a topic so rich with promise, a topic in which many interesting writers and events might be drawn into is given this whiny one note treatment. I think it's so pretentious, so western-centric, so classist, so ahistorical as to be practically useless to the conversation. It's interesting that the author opens with a long preamble about inclusion but then says she's just gonna use "we" to make it more personal even though it may not apply to everyone. She doesn't even attempt to include other material realities in her "we" though, her "we" is just her and it's basically a personal journal that attempts to extrapolate that one perspective to the general, that it in turn leads to a lot of assumptions and generalizations by the author and a grating vagueness. It's copy and paste feminism plus pop culture. As an aside, I hate her takes on "ugliness" and just generally spending pages on navel gazing. It's just a rehash of all the ways women can hate their bodies, maybe there will be more stuff to feel neurotic about. But again she applies this specific neuroticism to all women so if you don't spend a shit ton of time specifically hating yourself in the mirror, what is wrong with you. Her take is just so narrowly self focused in this way, if it was presented and written more as a recovery memoir personal manifesto it would be more accurate and less problematic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    DNF @ 67% I went into this book thinking it was going to be an analysis of female monsters and witches that show up in Greek mythology from a contemporary (hopefully intersectional) feminist perspective. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what this is. I'd describe Women and Other Monsters more as a memoir where the author is relating the experiences of female monsters in Greek myth (and her interpretation of their experiences) to her personal experiences throughout her life. While the interpretati DNF @ 67% I went into this book thinking it was going to be an analysis of female monsters and witches that show up in Greek mythology from a contemporary (hopefully intersectional) feminist perspective. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what this is. I'd describe Women and Other Monsters more as a memoir where the author is relating the experiences of female monsters in Greek myth (and her interpretation of their experiences) to her personal experiences throughout her life. While the interpretations of these female monsters were interesting, I didn't relate to a lot of her personal experiences she was relating their myths to. And she made it seem like some of her personal experiences were universal experiences, which they definitely aren't. Also, none of her interpretations were novel. If you're familiar with Greek myth and analyses of Greek myth you've probably already come across similar takes. I think it's important to read about other women's experiences in the world, especially to keep moving forward towards a better version of feminism, however I think the book could have been marketed better. I was listening to it as an audiobook and I just kept losing interest, which is why I decided to DNF it. I think I could have finished it if I were reading it though. It just wouldn't have been my favorite reading experience. This isn't a bad book, and it's well written, I just didn't connect with it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carey

    I had early access to the audiobook as part of the ALC program for librarians through libro.fm. Holy cow, this was so good. I didn't even know I was feeling some of this stuff until Zimmerman wrote it. Or, I did, but either thought I was alone or overreacting or both. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a woman, has ever been socialized as a girl/woman, doesn't understand why women are so fucking angry, or thinks they understand why women are so fucking angry. This is a book for every woman I had early access to the audiobook as part of the ALC program for librarians through libro.fm. Holy cow, this was so good. I didn't even know I was feeling some of this stuff until Zimmerman wrote it. Or, I did, but either thought I was alone or overreacting or both. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a woman, has ever been socialized as a girl/woman, doesn't understand why women are so fucking angry, or thinks they understand why women are so fucking angry. This is a book for every woman who has ever felt ugly, stupid, or weird (the bad kind). It's for every woman who has ever been told they're too angry, depressed, anxious, paranoid, or extra. It's for every woman who isn't "like other girls" and every woman who is exactly "like other girls." It's for feminists and also women who don't identify as such. It's for fans of Lindy West, Roxane Gay, Samantha Irby, and even Martha Stewart. Reading this was cathartic. I felt a lot of anger, but also joy. I think I'm a cross between Medusa and the Sphinx. I'm fat, which makes me ugly, and smart AF, which makes me a threat. But I love those things about myself, especially when they disturb others. If living your best life isn't disturbing mediocre, unimaginative people, you're doing it wrong. Go ahead and be a monster, and be proud.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    3.5 I'm having a hard time writing a review for this book. I really enjoyed this book, but my difficulty lies with trying to categorize it. First I went the librarian route and looked up what Dewey classification other libraries had assigned it. Although the majority placed Zimmerman's book in 155.3, sex psychology, I'm not sure if that is the right place. Zimmerman does a wonderful job explaining how women monsters in myth can and do represent different aspects of female sexuality and other perc 3.5 I'm having a hard time writing a review for this book. I really enjoyed this book, but my difficulty lies with trying to categorize it. First I went the librarian route and looked up what Dewey classification other libraries had assigned it. Although the majority placed Zimmerman's book in 155.3, sex psychology, I'm not sure if that is the right place. Zimmerman does a wonderful job explaining how women monsters in myth can and do represent different aspects of female sexuality and other perceived notions of femininity. How women can reclaim these monsters and shake off the expectations placed on women from birth. If the book was only about that, I could see why it was categorized in 155.3, however much of the book is about Zimmerman's journey to breaking away from the pressures and expectations placed on her. Each monster is tied to different parts of her journey, making this book part memoir as well. I don't think the book would have been as thought provoking or engaging if Zimmerman had not tied her thesis to her own experiences. Which brings me back to how to categorize this book, well I can't, which I feel fits so perfectly with the message this book is trying to put out into the world. Thank you libro.fm for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    First, this was great. But secondly, the title and blurb are a little deceptive. From first glance the book seems to be about female monsters from mythology and their influence on gender and women. But Zimmerman’s piece reads more like creative nonfiction, a blended memoir, or a collection of loosely collected cultural essays. This is not a bad thing -- I think this actually makes the book a much stronger contender to meet people’s interests. It is not just about Greek Mythology, it’s about all First, this was great. But secondly, the title and blurb are a little deceptive. From first glance the book seems to be about female monsters from mythology and their influence on gender and women. But Zimmerman’s piece reads more like creative nonfiction, a blended memoir, or a collection of loosely collected cultural essays. This is not a bad thing -- I think this actually makes the book a much stronger contender to meet people’s interests. It is not just about Greek Mythology, it’s about all the ways in which history, culture, and our own perceptions have influenced the ways women are perceived, perform, and view themselves. Personally, I found this incredibly relatable. Zimmerman is a fat/plus-sized author who has contemplated ugliness, has questioned her sexuality, has had every type of good and bad relationship one can have with others and herself, and so much more. Many of her experiences have mirrored mine and I cannot explain the relief I found while reading her work. Zimmerman brought to paper some of my most innermost feelings I’ve never been able to verbalize -- and many thoughts I wouldn’t even dare to admit to myself. While reading this I felt incredibly raw, while also seen and heard. It was a dose of medicine I didn’t know I needed. And I think many others could feel the same on this reading journey. Side note: Zimmerman remained trans inclusive and aware of the complexity of gender and gendered experiences throughout. It was genuinely a thoughtful, respectful read that is a great addition to today’s conversations on gender, womanhood, and perceived and actualized worth. Thanks to LibroFM and Beacon Press for allowing me to read this book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Scott

    This book was okay. It wasn't anything ground-breaking that I would recommend to a friend, but it was somewhat interesting. My rating for this book could be, in part, that I expected something a little more from this book. Zimmerman says herself, at the very start of the book, that she is not a Classics expert. She goes on to say that she has somewhat of a passive love for mythology, and she has found modern connections to the myths that she knows from the ancient world. I went into this book lo This book was okay. It wasn't anything ground-breaking that I would recommend to a friend, but it was somewhat interesting. My rating for this book could be, in part, that I expected something a little more from this book. Zimmerman says herself, at the very start of the book, that she is not a Classics expert. She goes on to say that she has somewhat of a passive love for mythology, and she has found modern connections to the myths that she knows from the ancient world. I went into this book looking for a deeper look at some of these myths and their connection to the feminism of our modern world. However, that's not what I was given while reading the book. While, yes, Zimmerman connects the concepts of these selected myths to modern struggles that women face daily... the focus was less on the reasons for these connections and more on how these similar issues have continued over time. I felt like I was gaining more insight on the myths themselves (through focusing with a more modern-lens), than I did about the modern struggles that women face, and how to improve upon those inequities. I just felt as if the book was a little more surface-level than I expected... which may benefit those readers that may not have as much context for Classical Studies and mythology. As someone whose minor was Classical Studies, and who took multiple courses on mythology and its connection to modernity... it didn't quite impress in the ways in which I expected. I also felt that this almost served as a memoir, of sorts, for Zimmerman who recounts specific examples of these inequities that she has faced in her own life. Again, not that anything is wrong with that... it just wasn't what I anticipated when going into this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe Archer

    It's largely my own fault that I didn't enjoy this book. A) I should have read the goodreads reviews beforehand and B) I was told explicitly in the introduction that this book wasn't written for me (which is completely fair). I do think that the publisher's description begs for disappointment. This book is 80% memoirs and 20% literary criticism of ancient mythology through a feminist lens. Based on the book jacket, I was expecting (and hoping for) 100% of the latter. I have no problem with a book It's largely my own fault that I didn't enjoy this book. A) I should have read the goodreads reviews beforehand and B) I was told explicitly in the introduction that this book wasn't written for me (which is completely fair). I do think that the publisher's description begs for disappointment. This book is 80% memoirs and 20% literary criticism of ancient mythology through a feminist lens. Based on the book jacket, I was expecting (and hoping for) 100% of the latter. I have no problem with a book that balances memoirs with historical nonfiction. "Why Fish Don't Exist" by Lulu Miller, for example, uses both genres quite effectively. I do think there needs to be an equal distribution to make it work. Too much of one or the other and you are left wondering why the minimized genre was even there in the first place. That's what happened here. I think if these were feminist memoirs on their own, and I knew that going into the book, I would have enjoyed this more. All that being said - I am a cis male so, again, this book was not written for me and is very likely much more engaging for someone that has identified, or been perceived, as female. I didn't write this review to convince you not to read the book, just to explain my lukewarm rating.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allison Sylviadotter

    I was immediately put off by the author's "note to the reader" wherein she includes males in her definition of women. To quote her: "I use the term [woman] in its broadest sense, encompassing people who identify as women (regardless of assigned gender at birth)..." Yet the whole point of these "monsters" is that it is being FEMALE that is demonized. Being a woman is not an identity, or a feeling. Sex is not "assigned" at birth, it is simply, objectively observed. She could have easily said this I was immediately put off by the author's "note to the reader" wherein she includes males in her definition of women. To quote her: "I use the term [woman] in its broadest sense, encompassing people who identify as women (regardless of assigned gender at birth)..." Yet the whole point of these "monsters" is that it is being FEMALE that is demonized. Being a woman is not an identity, or a feeling. Sex is not "assigned" at birth, it is simply, objectively observed. She could have easily said this book is for females, people born female, or female-bodied people, because that is what this book is about, the female body and how it has been weaponized against us. Males, people born male, and male-bodied people will not relate to this book, it's not about them. But I guess the demographic of 50% of the world's population and our unique struggles as women wasn't enough for the author, she had to include males too. Pure pandering. Otherwise the book was fairly interesting, but somewhat shallow at times. Not a book of real substance, but good entertainment. 2.5/5 ⭐

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Samuelson

    This book pairs societal pressures faced by modern women with ancient myths. Each chapter uses a different female Greek monster as a lens to examine a specific aspect of modern ideals of feminine attributes. These attributes range from beauty to temperament to motherhood and the book looks at what happens when women do not meet those ideals. I am fairly familiar with several Greek myths (Thank you, Percy Jackson) and I found it very interesting how the echoes of ancient female monsters like Medus This book pairs societal pressures faced by modern women with ancient myths. Each chapter uses a different female Greek monster as a lens to examine a specific aspect of modern ideals of feminine attributes. These attributes range from beauty to temperament to motherhood and the book looks at what happens when women do not meet those ideals. I am fairly familiar with several Greek myths (Thank you, Percy Jackson) and I found it very interesting how the echoes of ancient female monsters like Medusa, The Sirens, Charybdis, and The Sphinx could be found in the way modern society views things like female beauty, desire, need, and knowledge. I particularly found the chapters regarding The Hydra, The Harpies, and Lamia to be illuminating. Despite all the pressures to conform to society, the author argues in favor of doing the opposite. By embracing behaviors, characteristics, and beliefs that go against societal standards, one becomes a monster, and with monstrosity comes power.

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