Sunday, November 25, 2012

Feminist Gift Guide #1: Penny Red by Laurie Penny

The holiday season is quickly approaching weather you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or celebrate the winter solstice with non-denominational socially obligatory gift-giving.  As such, I thought I would join the pack of bloggers offering their readers seasonal gift-giving guides . . . with a Sunny Jim twist!

Today’s entry will be the first in a regular series of posts designed to give readers ideas of what to buy the feminist in their life-- be the individual male or female.  These gift ideas are by no means limited to those who are self-identified feminists; rather, they would be appropriate for anyone on your gift list who is progressively minded or for those who have only just had their political consciousness raised.

I’ll try to update this gift guide at least twice a week (once at the weekend and once during the workweek) through the season.  My selections will all be below (well below, in most cases) US$50.00.

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Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent (2011)
by Laurie Penny
Pluto Press (ISBN: 9780745332086)
US$20.00 (paperback)

[caption id="attachment_364" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Penny Red by Laurie Penny[/caption]

If the ongoing protests against austerity measures in Europe have caught the attention-- or actively involved-- someone on your gift list, might I recommend picking them up a copy of journalist Laurie Penny’s relatively recent collection of essays.  This set of previously published reportage finds Penny, a columnist with The Independent and The New Statesmen, finds the author creating a new intellectual topography in the wake of the Global Economic Crisis.

In some intellectual circles, Penny has been heralded as the John Reed of our generation, unabashedly leftist in a world that seems more than willing to let itself be consumed by Neo-Conservatives. Her book lives up to this reputation.

Separated into five sections-- This is Actually Happening; Girl Trouble; Kingdom of Rains; Cultural Capital; Their Hallucinations, Our Desires: The Grassroots--  Penny Red, considers the political landscape in the late capitalist west, the state of (and necessity for) feminism, as well as the social justice movements that have risen up (and in many instances been wrongfully vilified by the media) in the past few years.  This isn’t a book just about Uncut UK or about the Occupy movement; rather, the collection shines a light on corners of our political battleground that have long been neglected by “mainstream” progressives and willfully ignored, or belittled, by the press.

Penny is at her best when taking on “Call Me Dave” Cameron and his Conservative cronies which, for her American readers, are analogous for the Republican power elite.  Though she writes about social issues within a specifically British context-- duh, she’s an English journalist-- the topics she writes about are of trans-national importance.  It’s hard not to place yourself in Penny’s shoes when she infiltrates a Young Conservatives event and not imagine a similar scenario set in a Campus Republicans event.

As you have probably figured out by now, I wouldn’t recommend buying this book for your ultra-conservative friend (by the way, why would you have an ultra-conservative friend *shivers*), but it would be a perfect gift for sister who loves Le Tigre or your cousin who is actively involved in an Occupy UC protest.  Even those on your list with a leftist bent, but without the desire to take those ethos on the march, would certainly find a kindred spirit in Penny.

Do you have any feminist-friendly books you are thinking about sharing with your like-minded friends this festive season?  Share your suggestions in the comments below.

Cheers,

j.

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