• Enlightened Sexism

    "Enlightened Sexism offers an antidote to the contradictory messages and predicaments many women experience today…"

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  • The Mommy Myth

    "In a book crackling with humor and sarcasm, the authors point out a growing obsession…

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  • Listening In

    Starting in the 1920s and moving up to the turn of the 21st century, Listening In is a…

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  • Where the Girls Are

    Where the Girls Are is a romp through the confusing and often contradictory images of women in American pop culture…

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Enlightened Sexism

"A must-read: Whip-smart, witty, and scathingly insightful. Susan Douglas has penned a brilliant -- and often funny -- critique of the myths about equality, ambition, and femininity that are currently being served up as 'reality' in our media-crazed culture. She challenges those who insist that feminism is outmoded, that strong women are scary and unlovable, and that 'real' girl power comes from Botox, a bustier, and the ability to pole-dance in a pair of size-two hot pants. Best yet, Enlightened Sexism offers an antidote to the contradictory messages and predicaments many women experience today. It’s a call to action and an inspiration." -- Susan Jane Gilman, bestselling author of Kiss My Tiara, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven.

“In this witty skewering of pop culture, Susan Douglas shows how girl-power fantasies – vampire slayers, tomb raiders, lean girls, and mean girls – hold women back by obscuring how far we haven’t come. Douglas manages the difficult trick of bringing disquieting news while remaining funny, erudite, warm, and delightful. She’s our most enjoyable – and smartest – media critic.” -- Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation and author of Learning to Drive and Reasonable Creatures

“Here is an incisive history of the liberation that doesn’t liberate, the story of how the same-old is peddled as ever-so radical. In Enlightened Sexism, Susan Douglas dissects pop-culture pseudo-feminism with wit, style, and a considerable amount of humor.”
-- Thomas Frank, bestselling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew

“Enlightened Sexism is an all-too-important reminder that sexism, sadly, is alive and well – and that it’s being sold to women as feminism. Whether it’s a consumer culture that tells women the Pussycat Dolls and Girls Gone Wild are bastions of feminism, or the media that would have us believe that women have nothing left to fight for – Susan Douglas makes sure her readers know that the battle for equality is far from over.” -- Jessica Valenti, author of The Purity Myth

“In a sharp-witted polemic against the media’s stereotyping of females and feminism, University of Michigan communications professor Douglas (Where the Girls Are) parses music, movies, magazines, television dramas, reality TV, and news coverage to demonstrate how the “girl power” of the early ‘90s developed into “enlightened sexism”: “a response, deliberate or not, to the perceived threat of a new gender regime.” Given women’s progress, enlightened sexism assumes, now “it’s okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women.” According to Douglas, this media trend includes stereotypes of black women as lazy and threatening in characters like Big Momma or Omarosa on The Apprentice, and the insidious sexualization of young girls. Douglas supports her analysis with data, such as on women’s continuing inequitable pay and professional opportunities, black women’s struggles for equality, and the negative consequences of the rising use of plastic surgery. And while the media focused on girls bullying other girls, a much bigger problem, says Douglas, is sexual harassment of young girls by boys. Readers may not agree with Douglas’s politics, but her position that women’s interests are being harmed by the media is well argued and well documented.” -- Publishers Weekly

"In a sequel of sorts to Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media (1994), the author asserts that pop culture sends out the false message that women’s liberation has been accomplished and that feminism is now old hat." Douglas (Communication Studies/Univ. of Michigan; Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination, 1999, etc.) analyzes the way females are presented on television and in movies, advertisements and the press, and she is not happy with what she sees. She argues that pop culture is guilty of a backlash against feminism that objectifies women’s faces and bodies, exploits and punishes female sexuality and divides women against each other by age and class. This phenomenon, which she terms “enlightened sexism,” had its beginnings in the early ’90s, and is really just “old-fashioned grade-A patriarchy.” Citing dozens of examples from the media, Douglas demonstrates how female accomplishments have been exaggerated at the same time that old stereotypes of women as bimbos have been reinforced. The author’s zippy prose—“So, what might you get if you combined the six-foot fearless, alligator-wrestling, unsmiling crime fighter Janet Reno with the statuesque, gorgeous, dark-haired super model Cindy Crawford? One delicious answer might be Xena: Warrior Princess—makes this mostly an entertaining read. Besides a host of familiar characters from movies and television, she draws on such figures as Lorena Bobbitt, Anita Hill, Sarah Palin, Amy Fisher and Hillary Clinton to make her points about attitudes toward women. Although the examples become repetitious, the author’s takes on the media’s obsession with the foibles and pregnancies of celebrities and the biased news coverage of prominent successful women have the ring of truth. Her message is that ordinary women face everyday problems such as salary inequities, maternity leave and child care, many of which are ignored in the media, and that it is up to women to change this. Her epilogue presents two alternative scenarios of the future and urges women to take action to make the preferable one come true. Sharp and savvy." -- Kirkus Reviews 


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The Mommy Myth

"In a book crackling with humor and sarcasm, the authors…point out a growing obsession with this idealized, and guilt-inducing, version of motherhood that women can't achieve." -- Chicago Tribune

Taking readers on a provocative tour through thirty years of media images about mothers -- the superficial achievements of celebrity moms, the sensational coverage of dangerous day care, the media-manufactured "mommy wars" between working mothers and stay-at-home moms, and more -- The Mommy Myth contends that this "new momism" has been shaped by out-of-date mores, and that no matter how hard they try, women will never achieve it. In this must-read for every woman, Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels shatter the myth of the perfect mom and all but shout, "We're not gonna take it anymore!"

"Does Martha Stewart make you feel like you never do enough for your kids? Do "celebrity mom" profiles leave you feeling lumpen and inadequate? That's because they're supposed to, say Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels, authors of The Mommy Myth and self-professed "mothers with an attitude." Both scathing and self-deprecating, their pop-culture critique takes on "the new momism," the media's obsession with motherhood and the impossible standards which that obsession promotes. Today's ideal mom makes June Cleaver seem like a layabout: she may work outside the home, but never too much, always looks at the world through her children's eyes, makes sure to buy only educational, age-appropriate toys, and includes a loving note with each hand-prepared lunch. Meanwhile, the news media hype stories about child abduction, politicians excoriate so-called "welfare queens," and parenting experts advocate wearing your child in a sling until he moves out on his own. Romanticized, commercialized, sensationalized, and demonized by turns, today's mothers are damned if they work and damned if they don't; what’s more, the idea that the government might do something to help their plight has come to seem almost quaint." -- Amazon.com Review

"In the idealized myth, mothers and babies spend their days discovering the wonders of life, reading, playing and laughing. Mom wears her baby in a sling, never raises her voice and of course has unlimited time and patience. Baby grows up safe, happy and respectful. In real life, however, it's a different story. Douglas (Where the Girls Are) and Smith College philosophy professor Michaels, "mothers with an attitude problem," blow the lid off "new momism," "a set of ideals... that seem on the surface to celebrate motherhood, but which in reality promulgate standards of perfection that are beyond [a mother's] reach." The authors examine the past 30 years of television, radio, movies, magazines and advertising to show that the bar has been increasingly raised for "the standards of good motherhood while singling out and condemning those we were supposed to see as dreadful mothers" (notably harried working mothers). Using ample humor (e.g., buy the wrong toys and your child will "end up a semiliterate counter girl in Dunkin' Donuts for life"), abundant examples and an approachable style, Douglas and Michaels incriminate not just Republican administrations and Dr. Laura, but also celebrity mothers, Drs. Spock and the evening news." -- Publishers Weekly


Praise for The Mommy Myth
I have one word for The Mommy Myth: FINALLY! With humor, wit and solid information, Douglas and Michaels take on the sentimentalized, privatized moralism of contemporary motherhood and show how it harms both women and children. -- Katha Pollitt author of Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

"An absolutely fascinating exposé...this eye-opening report contains a wealth of valuable insight into the never-ending, and ultimately self-defeating, quest for the maternal perfection glorified by contemporary American society." -- Booklist

“In sharp, funny, fed-up prose…The Mommy Myth takes such a cathartic bite out of the celebrity-mom mystique, you can save that backup carton of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch for a different emergency.” -- The San Diego Union-Tribune

“A full-on feminist attack on the way the media portrays mothers, done in a manner reminiscent of Susan Faludi’s Backlash…The Mommy Myth provides a sprightly and thought-provoking tour through the last thirty years of feminist attitudes toward motherhood.” -- The Washington Post

“The Mommy Myth” is a fun read and a smart one, too…Witty, engaging, and backed by a lot of research,” -- The Nation

"This is a book for mothers who can admit that they yell sometimes, feed their children processed food, and occasionally get bored playing Barbie camp-out under the dining room table...It's a book for mothers who would be okay with being imperfect, if only the rest of the world would stop pointing out their shortcomings." -- The Washington Post

“The chapter ‘Attack of the Celebrity Moms’ is alone worth the price of the book for its dead-on analysis of the ways stars and the people who write about them constantly harp on the pleasures of family life.” -- The Baltimore Sun

“Lively and irreverent, The Mommy Myth…pokes fun at airbrushed profiles of celebrity moms and pokes holes in the media panics about child safety, including a fascinating demolition of the ;epidemic’ of cracks babies, an alarmist falsehood from start to finish.” -- The American Prospect

“Fascinating, funny, smart, scary, and long overdue, The Mommy Myth debunks the next big myth that’s gotta come down: that of the Perfect Mother. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT SKIP THIS BOOK.” -- Cathi Hanauer, editor of Bitch in the House and author of My Sister’s Bones


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Listening In

"Flat out terrific ... just the right balance of history, scholarship, media theory, and great storytelling. Susan J. Douglas makes reading about radio as much fun as listening to it. Turn up the volume on this one!" -- Pete Fornatale, New York Radio personality and co-author of "Radio in the Television Age

Starting in the 1920s and moving up to the turn of the 21st century, Listening In is a reconsideration of what listening to radio did to America in the 20th century, and how it brought a completely new auditory dimension to our lives. Listening In explores how radio altered our day-to-day experiences and generational identities, and played a pivotal role in helping us imagine ourselves a part of invisible, imagined communities. The book pays special attention to the romance associated with radio listening, to radio’s powerful role in bringing African American culture to the center of American life, to radio and sports (especially baseball), to the rise of radio news and then talk, and to radio’s central importance to youth cultures in the United States.

"An informative and entertaining ride across the country and the radio dial from the 1920s to the present. Far from being simply TVs poor old mom, Douglas argues, radio has been a seminal force in American culture. Even in the age of the Internet and cable TV, it remains the medium to which Americans turn to alter or sustain particular emotional states,'' whether its the nostalgia of oldies stations or the anger vented on talk radio. In her historical overview of the medium, Douglas sees racism both exploited and exploded by the popular Amos 'n' Andy show, with further race-mixing coming from blues, jazz, and other music stations. The author depicts radio comedy as a continuation of vaudevilles wordplay, exemplified by Abbott and Costellos ``Whos on First'' routine. On the political front, radio not only first broadcast presidential debates, but also allowed FDR to undercut legislative opposition by appealing directly to listeners. The two world wars gave rise to broadcast journalism and the classic voice of Edward R. Murrow (prototype for Walter Cronkite), who Douglas believes helped convince Americans to reject isolationism. Whether through entertainment, sports events, or war news, coast-to-coast radio broadcasts ``created a sense of a national culture,'' the author argues. But radio was also the medium of rebellion (especially for teens) in the decades after WWII, as ham radio, the hi-fi, the transistor, and then the Walkman made ``listening to music a daily requirement for millions'' and helped preserve regional, linguistic, and cultural differences. The success of satellite-driven syndicates like those featuring Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern may finally quell rebel radio, fears Douglas, by denying a mike to anyone without an audience of millions. Warmly analyzing the medium's uniquely intimate relationship with listeners, this thoughtful history shows radio awakening our personal and national imagination." -- Kirkus Reviews


Praise for Listening In
“Once again, Susan Douglas has put her arm around a daunting subject and brought it back to us alive. Vibrant and Compelling.” -- Ken Burns, author of The Civil War and Baseball: An Illustrated History

"A brilliant analysis of the pervasive medium's influence upon our hearts and minds. This is the best book about radio that I've read in years." -- Michael Harrison, editor, Talkers magazine

“A superb work detailing not only how Americans became entranced with radio, but why. A lively, sympathetic book certain to inform and challenge readers all across the spectrum.” -- Jim Ledbetter, author of Made Possible By: The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States

"A thoughtful and affectionate look back at how radio shaped and strengthened our past, and an insightful look forward to how, in spite of rank commercialism, radio still offers an alternative form of bootstrap expression in a TV-dominated age." -- Susan Faludi, author of Backlash

“No history of America in the twentieth century is complete without the story of radio; and no history of radio is complete without Susan Douglas’s stunning book, Listening In. This is a book for anyone who listens to the radio—all of us.” -- Tom Lewis, author of Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

"A pioneering, witty, remarkably insightful study of the role radio has played in our history, our culture, and our lives." -- Lawrence W. Levine, author of The Opening of the American Mind

"Douglas’s wonderful book offers a sophisticated history of radio listening." -- Journal of American History


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Where The Girls Are

"Terrific...amazing...Where the Girls Are may be the funniest, most original, most brilliant piece of academic writing I've ever read." -- The Washington Post

"Smart and devilishly funny, Where the Girls Are is as much fun as driving around town in a top-down convertible." -- The Chicago Sun-Times

"A bright, mouthy, accept-no-bullshit treatment of the media's contradictory images of women since World War II...a brave and funny book...a welcome, intelligent cultural history." -- Elle

"What a pleasure it is to find Susan Douglas...engagingly written, Where the Girls Are provides a first-rate analysis of the music, movies and TV imagery that helped shape female psyches." -- Newsweek

"A book so sincere, witty and pragmatic that it’s positively subversive…more like a smart self–help book than an academic treatise…Where the Girls Are may auger a new populism in media studies, an era when everyone will think of mass culture as something to be analyzed as well as absorbed." -- Women’s Review of Books

"Wonderfully witty...sometimes acerbic, often amusing, and always eloquent." -- Chattanooga Free Press

"A pleasure to read...an engaging book...displays a wisdom and tolerance that bespeak an understanding of complexity and ambiguity" -- The Boston Globe

"Where the Girls Are is so good--so real, so true, so funny---that no review can do it justice." -- The Pilot

"Douglas is a snappy, opinionated writer...brilliant...Where the Girls Are deftly explores how the mass media has made us women what we are today--cultural schizophrenics who rebel against yet submit to the prevailing images of what a desirable woman should be...Douglas does a great job of excavating the origins of our ambivalence." -- Fresh Air, National Public Radio

"A witty and spirited tour d'horizon of the mixed signals transmitted over the last four decades to American women via radio, TV, magazines, music and movies...belongs on the same shelf as Susan Faludi's Backlash." -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Provocative...rollicking...peppy and indignant...the most original and engaging parts of "Where the Girls Are" are Ms. Douglas's irreverent and sometimes very funny readings of specific television shows and pop songs." -- The New York Times

"Where the Girls Are is as original and refreshing a popular culture critique as anybody is producing these days." -- Ann Arbor News

"A penetrating flotilla of wit, nostalgia and revenge...Douglas delights as she dresses down the media to its sexist bone." -- Vogue

"Her finely honed wit and sense of the absurd will keep you turning the pages…After reading Susan Douglas’s media history, you’ll never regard television as an innocuous companion again." -- The Detroit News and Free Press

"Some books are just fun to read, no matter how much seriousness lurks beneath the surface...filled with pungent criticism...a well-argued piece of work." -- Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

"The wisecracks are choice...a bracingly acidic review of the way women have been portrayed." -- The Milwaukee Journal

"Douglas has written a delightful chronicle of mass media portrayal of women from the 1950s to the present...Douglas successfully shows the complex role the media play in our lives." -- The Trenton Times

"Douglas brings irony, insight, and more than a little humor to this new take on what the last several decades have had to say to and about women in America." -- Bibliophile

"Susan Douglas has perfectly captured the ever-present internal battles between femininty and feminism...her tone is playful but her message is serious." -- In These Times

"Highly recommended...Like machine gun fire, the history of women through this century explodes from her pen...she knows her topic thoroughly and presents it as a rapid fire lecture without drawing a breath...highly literate." -- West Coast Review of Books

"Douglas zings just about everyone in Where the Girls Are, a perceptive, irreverent and thoroughly enjoyable tour of the mass media and how it has shaped the female psyche in America." -- The Seattle Times

"An interesting, witty analysis...the book's contribution lies in bringing the reader to new recognitions of familiar events…succeeds admirably in rescuing much of female culture from the dustbin of history…the formative media influences of our past and present will take on new meanings for those who read this intelligent and delightful book.” -- The San Francisco Chronicle

"An angry, amusing pop-culture chronicle...Douglas produces vibrant notes... energetic and accurate." -- New York Magazine

"An intriguing baby-boomer Baedeker to the conflicting portrayals of women in postwar pop culture...there's sure to be something in Girls that will bring a groan of recognition." -- People

"A wickedly funny examination of media images of women over the last 50 years." -- Entertainment Weekly

"In this thoughtful, cheeky tour of television and the rest of American pop culture, Douglas is tough yet anything but a scold as she deciphers the markedly mixed messages fed to women and girls...written with insight and good humor." -- Associated Press


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