I’ve recently read two essays by Laurie Penny: “Most Women You Know Are Angry—And That’s All Right” and “On the Milo Bus with the Lost Boys of America’s New Right.” Both are engaging and provocative in their different approaches to an interlinked topic: the clash between right and left in the United States, as well as the way men and women see each other in Trump’s America. I heard that Penny’s new book, Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults, and I was intrigued enough to break my read-only-my-books fast to put in a hold at the library.
Penny’s book spans essays, most previously published, from 2013-2016. The first chapter covers the election and rise of Donald Trump. It is filled with all the fury and rage that all women should possess towards 45. The other essays cover a range of topics, from sexuality to polyamory, to dissent and anti-establishment politics. The essays are fairly uneven in quality, but the first and last are absolutely stellar. Penny’s post-mortem on the election is reason enough to read the book.
I would absolutely recommend this book as a new approach to feminism in the 21st century. Penny needs to be read alongside Roxane Gay as more contemporary examples of feminism, and despite the uneven quality of essays, this entire collection deserves to be read. I will have to look at Penny’s other books, because my interest was piqued enough to keep reading, and because we need a fresh examination of feminism. I’ll be interested to read about Penny’s own take on Brexit and English politics, which I hope will get space in her next book.
Cross-posted to my blog.