Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers

The Guerilla Girls are back with a fresh critique of female stereotypes.

The Guerrilla Girls—those anonymous, ape-masked, performance-artist provocateurs -- have been culture-jamming their way into our hearts for the past 18 years, calling bull on the sexism permeating the worlds of art and the media. Now, the simian sirens take us on a safari of the labels that hound women, with the aim of "empowering women to create their own stereotypes and to reject the ones our culture tries to squeeze us into."

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With their barbed wit and insolent cut-and-paste graphics, the Girls take on "cradle to grave" stereotypes (among them, "daddy's girl," "tomboy," and "spinster"). They also audit sexual slurs and examine how real women and fictional characters from Tokyo Rose to Lolita solidi-fied into stereotype. Meanwhile, satirical Barbie dolls -- "to have, to hold, and to let go of" -- illustrate the section on racial and religious stereotypes (including Latisha, the Welfare Queen, who was "expressly created for us by Ronald Reagan," and Theresa, the Good Catholic Girl, who comes with a warning: "Due to a manufacturing flaw related to real-life Catholics in the U.S., 97 percent of Theresa dolls will use contraceptives sometime in their lives and 87 percent will make up their own minds about having an abortion."). Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers also includes a do-it-yourself "stereotype eradication" kit that encourages readers to monkey around with the cultural assumptions hindering all humans, not just the females of the species.

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